Why do we see emerging culture so differently?


Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time (by Dava Sobel)

Seeing the world differently to each other is not new. Why do some think post-modernism is an evil to resists, some embrace it, and then what it is and how to live in it, brings a myriad of response. Is it even real, does it exist?

In 1492, Christopher Columbus, ran into the Americas, literally accidentally. You see until 1714, people could measure their latitude accurately (how far north or south of the equator we are) but no one could measure their longitude, i.e. how far east of west you have traveled from what is now used as a marker, the Greenwich Meridian.

Sailors would literally be lost once they had lost sight of land. And when they found land again, would not be sure what land they had found. So sailors would stumble into land, not knowing where they were, and make maps, and guess what they had found and what it looked like, and people make maps over time.

There is some conjecture that Columbus, so wanted the King and Queen of Spain to fund his exploration that rather than get accurate maps that showed the real distance (which was much farther than anyone thought) he used maps that showed things nearer, to fit his view of the world, and allow him to get his funding. He sought maps that fitted with what he believed things should be like, and not what they really were.

People stumbled into the same thing as Columbus, and yet saw it differently, drew different maps, and described it differently. Eventually we got accurate maps, and people agreed on the landscape, the location, and the nature of the country.

You can read about this process in the short but engaging book above, and how John Harrison came up with an ingenious solution for measuring longitude. There is also a wonderful two part TV mnini-series drawing on this true story.

It mostly reminded me that we are all like people before 1714, bumping into to the same land in different places, all trying to draw maps, or using others, all seeing the same thing very differently. It reminds me that we should be humble in our claims, we should share our maps and findings together, it is not competition to be right, and be prepared for other people's maps to be better than ours and not reject them just because they don't fit our view of the world, or how we insist things should be.

BTW whose maps are you reading, who is helping you understand the landscape?