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Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of…
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Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks

by Ken Jennings

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Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Being a map lover, although not an obsessed map nerd such as Jennings describes in his book, I had mixed reactions to Maphead. Jennings himself comes off as the obsessive compulsive data collector that one might expect from a Jeopardy champion. He includes plenty of fascinating "facts" in his book & I did enjoy much of this. I enjoyed the first chapters most, since these deal with maps & map collectors as I know & appreciate them, even the fantasy world makers & mappers. I was particularly enthralled by the chapter about the map collection at the Library of Congress. Jennings then proceeds from historical maps to all manner of obsessive life list games of collection that involve geography or maps in some way. I found these chapters much less interesting in the same way that I find birdwatching with life listers annoying. Or any type of artificial score keeping. I just don't understand gaming fever I guess. As a starting point, a to do list, say of visiting all the National Parks, isn't a bad program. It can start you off in a direction. But when it becomes a manic drive to check off points, I lose interest in such activities. Jennings includes chapters on the Geography Bee kids; the club for traveler's who have "visited" 100 or more countries (amusing how they parse what a country is); Highpointers (they tag the highest elevation point in each state); road geeks; geocachers (the "litter" involved in this game appalls me, all those tupperware containers, film canisters & pill bottles niched into the landscape at practically every conceivable point); GPS gamers of all persuasions; Google Earthers, etc. ( )
  Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
I borrowed this from a friend, and wasn't expecting much from it, but it's a clear, lighthearted look at the role of maps in modern life. ( )
  MikeRhode | Feb 21, 2014 |
The three stars are there because I'm a maphead! To give some objectivity to the book, KJ says right out that he dislikes my favourites, the Hypsometric, or Colour=height maps, so we don't get a chapter on them, which is a loss. But if you are looking for a factoid book, proceeding chapter by chapter , about many of the threads of map-collecting, you will like this entry in the field. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Oct 2, 2013 |
This has been on my list to read since it came out - having had both personal and professional interest in maps and geography for decades (crowned by spending the last 10 years working directly on Map Search, for MetaCarta and then Nokia.) Yes, I have the laminated world and europe maps on the wall, with wet-erase markers clipped to them to "keep score" (thick line for "been there", little airplane icon-sketch for "flew through, never really left the airport".)

Turns out that there really *are* a lot of "us" - a very broad spectrum of geographic obsession, including the geocachers and the Century Club (> 100 countries), those that collect maps-as-art, and the kids at the Geography Bee who know (not just trivia, but can reason about) vast quantities of information about the world and what's in it.

Jennings (famously obsessive himself) brings a wealth of both well-footnoted facts and very human stories to the table, including Alex Trebek's enthusiasm for the Geography Bee, and how turning off GPS Selective Availability led *directly* to the invention of the hobby/sport of GeoCaching.

If you're the sort to browse map stores, or accumulate gas station maps, or even to think "hey, google maps is pretty cool, where did it come from?" you'll enjoy MapHead; it's also easy to read in bits and pieces - while there are interesting cross-connections, it's an exploration, not a novel. ( )
1 vote eichin | May 10, 2013 |
Somewhat meandering look at people who are obsessed with maps and geography. Slightly unfocused but I found the chapters dealing with map illiteracy the most interesting. I mean honestly, we have major problems in this country if people can't find Chicago on a map. It's super easy to find. Right next to one of the five big blue things in the upper half. Also agree that GPSs are evil and never trust them. You'll end up in a lake or stuck on train tracks, right where they want you. ( )
  akmargie | Apr 4, 2013 |
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Epigraph
My wound is geography. - Pat Conroy
Dedication
For my parents. And for the kid with the map.
First words
They say you're not really grown up until you've moved the last box of your stuff out of storage at your parents'. If that's true, I believe I will stay young forever, ageless and carefree as Dorian Gray, while the cardboard at my parents' house molders and fades.
Quotations
Why did maps mean - why do they still mean, I guess - so much to me? Maps are just a way of organizing information, after all - not normally the kind of thing that spawns obsessive fandom. I've never heard anyone profess any particular love for the Dewey Decimal System. p.11
Falling in love with places is just like falling in love with people: it can happen more than once, but never quite like your first time. p. 15
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Geography geeks,
Map nerds and the maps they love
Wittily profiled
(jbd1)
True map geeks unite!

Secret meeting spot hidden

in endnotes. (Joking.)

(legallypuzzled)

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It comes as no surprise that, as a kid, Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings slept with a bulky Hammond world atlas by his pillow every night. Maphead recounts his lifelong love affair with geography and explores why maps have always been so fascinating to him and to fellow enthusiasts everywhere. Jennings takes readers on a world tour of geogeeks, from the London Map Fair to the computer programmers at Google Earth. Each chapter delves into a different aspect of map culture: highpointing, geocaching, road atlas rallying, even the "unreal estate" charted on the maps of fiction and fantasy. He also considers the ways in which cartography has shaped our history, suggesting that the impulse to make and read maps is as relevant today as it has ever been.--From publisher description.… (more)

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