Friday, July 08, 2005

Where am I? Where are you?

At the time I started this blog, I was punning on the title of Cormac McCarthy's magnificent 1985 novel, Blood Meridian. I cannot recommend that novel highly enough, by the way; it's the most haunting novel I've ever read. But my blog description's brief parody of a line from Wallace Stevens' equally magnificent poem "The Idea of Order at Key West" (not to mention the other quote from the same poem that appears as the footer for this blog) should suggest to the reader that something I've always been interested in is the location of things. This blog is something of a map of things that interest me as they come to my attention and I think I have some little something worth saying about them. And as anyone looking at the Geo-Loc map on the right-hand side can see, I'm interested in knowing where my readers come from, too; I figure y'all don't mind that too much (pace, regular-reader Grobie).
And that leads me to a more familiar meaning of meridian, the one that most people are familiar with: "4 a (1): a great circle on the surface of the earth passing through the poles [. . .] b: a representation of such a circle or half circle numbered for longitude on a map or globe." Over the past couple of days, I've run across a couple of things that I've added to my site, some visible, some not, that fascinate this ol' map-lover and might interest some of you as well. But these aren't mere toys to me, either: today's events in London serve to remind us, as if we needed yet MORE reminders of this, of how interconnected most all the world is, how ideologies do not respect the borders of sovereign nations. Maps can place us in the world in a way that merely staring at TV or a computer screen cannot--and actually knowing where someone is (physically) coming from makes that person more real, less unknown, and, perhaps, less-potentially an enemy.
Yesterday, I was visiting Blogwise and noticed they now feature something called Blogmaps. This map shows the locations of those blogs that have metatags indicating their latitude and longitude. I cruised around this site, fascinated but sad that good ol' Blog Meridian wasn't on this map. Yet.
Blogwise provided a link to A2B, a site which not only will tell you your exact latitude and longitude and how to place that information as a metatag in your blog but will also give you the URLs of nearby places, closest to more distant. Click on the A2B button I've placed above the Geo-Loc map to see what's close to me. So. This site is now tagged. The curious can seek me out . . . that is, once I actually take up residence in August at those coordinates.
It was while I was looking at that list of URLs closest to me today that I discovered the Degree Confluence Project; its humble goal is to post online a photographic record of the physical site of every intersection of degrees of latitude and longitude on (the land surface of) the planet. It is very easy to spend LOTS of time there. Here is a link to a photo-mosaic of all the photos submitted thus far. As I gazed at this particular image--which, of course, I know to be the product of coincidence--I found myself thinking that this might also serve as a decent visual representation of our relative awareness of the world. The absence of images for some of these places is in direct proportion to our need to know more about them. Note, for example, the relative blankness of Africa and the Middle East. Even Mexico has surprisingly few images representing it, and that corresponds prefectly with the sense I have that most of my countrymen have little or no knowledge of Mexico beyond the beach or the border.
So, then, all these things provide us with, at the very least, fascinating bits of trivia. One could go further in one's thinking, though. The cynical could meditate on our ever-shrinking sphere of privacy or how no section of the world is off-limits to a person with a digital camera. For my part, though, I find these things humbling (in a good way) reminders of my smallness in the blogosphere and--a good thing, I think--our world's growing interconnectedness and our need to be alive to the consequences (good and bad) of that interconnectedness.

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