Find your place in the world

By Richard Churchill – First Published November 2010

I don’t know about your but I’m fascinated by aerial photographs and maps, I love looking at where thing are, and how they relate. You can follow old road ways or marvel at the beauty and elegance of the design of the gardens of a stately home.

While maps have been easily available for a very long time, most of us only saw an aerial photograph when some one turned up at the door offering to sell you a picture taken from a plane. A lot of us have these photos and they are very interesting but they are a bit … local. It would be nice to be able to look at pictures from all over the globe. Well, now you can.

Online mapping sites have been around for a number of years. One of the most popular sites was; through this site you had (and still have) access to street maps from all over the world. They were also the first site that I can remember offering satellite pictures and a handy overlay service so you could see the street names marked on a real picture of the roads. There are now may companies that offer online mapping, Google and Microsoft primary amongst them.

These online services are now very rich with many landmarks and businesses marked on the maps with links to relevant websites. You can ‘drive’ round the maps with pictures taken at street level. I’ll save going into detail for later articles as I can’t do them justice in one or two paragraphs.

A decade ago you could buy CD-ROM atlases. These were mostly replaced by the online services; now, however, you can download a new generation of atlases from these websites. This new generation of atlases has all the features of their online relatives and are updated every day. However by being on your computer they can do a lot more. You can see how a place has changed by viewing older maps and aerial pictures. You can add tags to a place so you can find them easily or remind of an event that occurred there. You can produce customised maps that follow the route of a trip.

There are so may things you can do I have barely scratched the surface. Now it’s over to you to find your place in the world.

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