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Of Exactitude in Manchester

By Rhizome

The precision of maps has long been considered an issue of scale. Both Jorge Luis Borges and Lewis Carroll have written about the absurd desire for total geographic mastery that leads to the crafting of a map at the scale of the actual place being described. Scale may be one way of thinking about the fallibility of maps but, perhaps more importantly, the location of authority is another challenge or limitation of cartography. The singularity of voices expressed under such a model often distances the map from those who inhabit its terrain. Yet some folks in Manchester (UK) are trying to disrupt the authoritative power of map-makers by employing 'citizen cartography' in a project entitled 'Mapchester.' On May 13-14, as a prelude to this year's Futuresonic Festival, members of the public can help map Manchester, bringing their own tools, or receiving hands-on training with provided gear. Adding to already existing open-source mapping projects, like OpenStreetMap.org, Mapchester is a wiki-based project, inviting people to create a map as 'a guide for a festival created on collaborative and open principles.' Futuresonic's organizers see the project as 'a test-case festival guide,' determining the character of the city and the way in which people seek to inhabit it. The issues raised by the project suggest that we should start supplementing scale with perspective: Along with a key to the scale of a map, one might now expect to find a key to the perspective of the map makers. - Ryan Griffis

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