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Maps and Borders

First, you will turn right at the hwy 50 and 46 junction. Travel until you get to the 2nd gravel road. Then you will turn left and drive past the old oak tree on the right side of the road. Drive until you come to a fork in the road. You will take the road with the little mulberry bush next to it. Drive past the 2nd cedar tree on the left side and turn right. My house is the third white house on the right side of the road next to the big red barn. If you get lost stop and ask for directions to the old William Smith house. Good luck-you will need it. Dakota Territory

Now let’s try something a little different. First you need to travel two miles north of the hwy 50 and 46 junction. They you will turn west and travel 3 miles until you come to a fork in the road. Take the road that heads south. Travel 1.5 miles, then turn west on the dirt road. Travel 1.75 miles; my house is on the north side of the road.

Both of the hypothetical examples above describe the route to the same location. They seem very different, because the first example is unstructured using visual cues found on the road, while the second example uses standard directions like north and south. Places are also easier to find when a map can be used which includes roads, symbols, borders and a legend.

Cartographers make all types of maps. There are city maps, county maps, state maps, world maps, 911 maps and even topographical maps that show elevation difference and man-made features. The maps made today by places like the EROS Data Center are very detailed and exact.

Finding your exact location has improved drastically over the years from using compasses and longitude and latitude coordinates to using portable global positioning systems and satellites. Directions like “turn right at the old fence post” have been replaced by the push of a button.

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