Out of this world maps

Friday, February 29, 2008 at 2:15 PM



I am excited to see that David Rumsey's maps have come to life in Second Life, the extremely popular online, 3-D world. It's such a cool idea: historical maps in a virtual world. I've spent hours playing with the Rumsey maps that appear in Google Earth, sliding back and forth between today's borders and the maps of yesteryear. I find the constellation maps in Sky to be particularly awe-inspiring; I am always amazed at how accurately our ancestors were able to portray the night sky without the aid of powerful telescopes.

As a self-proclaimed map nerd, I'm grateful for the work David has done to make historical maps accessible to the world, and appreciate the innovative ways that he has found to display such fragile documents in digital formats. I highly recommend exploring the more than 17,000 maps of all kinds available on his website, as well as visiting Rumsey Maps Island in Second Life. Being able to interact with a 17th century map in an online world is a pretty amazing experience.