The Incredible Historical Map That Changed Cartography

Very interesting article for anyone with an interest in maps, mapmaking or the history of cartography.


Some history of shipbuilding as well, article includes a link to this page:

By 1500 the shipyard/armory was the nerve center of the Venetian state and the largest industrial complex in the world. It employed production methods of unparalleled efficiency that long predated Henry Ford, including assembly lines and the use of standardized parts; vertical integration; just-in-time delivery; time management; rigorous accounting; strict quality control; and a specialized workforce.

With regards to cartography the very first line of the linked article mentions the short story On Exactitude in Science , Jorge Luis Borges about the map that uses a scale of 1 to 1.

That short (one paragraph) story is here: On Exactitude in Science

Wikipedia article includes Lewis Carrol’s story:

“What a useful thing a pocket-map is!” I remarked.

“That’s another thing we’ve learned from your Nation,” said Mein Herr, “map-making. But we’ve carried it much further than you. What do you consider the largest map that would be really useful?”

“About six inches to the mile.”

“Only six inches!” exclaimed Mein Herr. “We very soon got to six yards to the mile. Then we tried a hundred yards to the mile. And then came the grandest idea of all ! We actually made a map of the country, on the scale of a mile to the mile!”

“Have you used it much?” I enquired.

“It has never been spread out, yet,” said Mein Herr: “the farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight ! So we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.”

from Lewis Carroll, Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, Chapter XI, London, 1895

The Jorge Borges fable is also the subject of the first page of this book by Jean Baudrillard, which I never finished.

If once we were able to view the Borges fable in which the cartographers of the Empire
draw up a map so detailed that it ends up covering the territory exactly (the decline of the
Empire witnesses the fraying of this map, little by little, and its fall into ruins, though
some shreds are still discernible in the deserts - the metaphysical beauty of this ruined
abstraction testifying to a pride equal to the Empire and rotting like a carcass, returning to
the substance of the soil, a bit as the double ends by being confused with the real
through aging) - as the most beautiful allegory of simulation, this fable has now come full
circle for us, and possesses nothing but the discrete charm of second-order simulacra.