Europeans, US citizens, San Franciscans, Harajuku girls, West Point alumni, gym members, ex-pats, tourists, Sarasota retirees—from birthplace onward, we use locations to define ourselves and others. In turn, these geography-centric definitions allow us to repurpose maps into increasingly rich encyclopedias: intimate yet vast, historical and current.
A set of map coordinates forms the link between Joni Mitchell, the Troubadour in West Hollywood, Lenny Bruce and Spanish expeditions in the 1700s. They tie my friend Libby to Elvis through a trip to Graceland. Childhood haunts still hold meaning even if the buildings we remember are gone, and we use landmarks and landscapes to recall history long after the battles are over. This talk covers some of the many ways we continue to add to our growing repositories of location data and what we can learn through these points on a map.