Geography is a subject that I was deeply interested in during the first decade of my life. I got engrossed in it and aced in it in Class V and just as simply left it to pursue my interest in Astronomy.

Geography literally translates as “drawing of this world”. Representing the world around us on paper – in maps seems to have been the end result of a process. Studying the world around us, looking at the types of soil, the kind of physical features around us, looking at representing human settlements and representing them so that they may be used to understand topography, identify good places to build human settlements and also as a way of going from one place to another.

Applying this data, various maps were made – maps of topographies, political and physical maps, maps for soil etc. This data is now available via proprietary media like Google Maps and Survey of India and is also being crowd-collected again through initiatives such as OpenStreetMap.

I’ve always wondered of what use would it be in our daily life and how rarely we use this data to understand the world around us. We only mug Geography in school in order to obtain certain grades but don’t understand how to use it in our day-to-day life to understand the world around us.

As in all cases, there is hope. There are groups of people around the world who are collecting data about their surroundings by setting up personal weather stations and by mapping roads, buildings and places of public interest. This data is being re-collected again by the public because it is currently closed behind private and government silos. But, as in all other things we learned in school, its application to make better decisions in our life or even simple day-to-day things seems a little far away.

Mumbai. January 3, 2016.

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