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Maps That Defend Your Mind From the Weakening Effect of GPS

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Say you had no access to GPS, and you wanted to set out on a walking tour from Kenwood to see Bucktown. And you needed to give directions to your friend in Pilsen to meet you. Could you do it?

Generally, you should be able to rely on your hippocampus, the area of your brain that can make the terrain underfoot match the path in your mind. But with our reliance on tools like Google Maps, we have a shadowy area in the place of specific directions.

Well, fear not. The brain has plasticity, so it's not too late to whip your understanding of the world around you into shape. And a certain individual by the name of Archie Archambault is here to help with his concept of mind maps to get you going.

Having done 32 maps of cities all over the world, Archambault takes the archetypal simple shape of a circle to create the defining features of each urban area. Besides simplicity, circles have the practical side of conveying the overlapping nature that neighborhoods take. There are plenty of instances where you may find yourself on a street corner that two or three neighborhoods could lay claim to. It's also a metaphor for understanding a whole concept; a whole world can be found within a neighborhood.

According to BostInno, he spends a week of research to talk to people in each city (no GPS!), and designs the map in about 40 hours. Not to say that he's anti-tech--he just knows when he wants to use it. He posts his draft onto Instagram, asking for feedback from the residents there. It's a matter of self-identification, mind you--if you can recognize the meaning, then you can comment on it.

Apparently, Chicago has approved this map, which is fairly popular with Airbnb hosts who can explain the city to newcomers. While most of the other cities' maps are self-contained within a circle, Chicago stretches tall in a rectangular portrait to capture the spoke-and-wheel streetscape.

Who's ready to go analog?

·Chicago map [Archie's Press]
·Cool Map Thing archives [Curbed Chicago]