Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
Watch out, Google.
Designers spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to evoke the real world in the digital one (this is why the virtual trash on your computer screen looks like a real garbage bin, and why you can turn the pages on an ebook as if they were made out of paper). Inevitably, this relationship was bound to change directions. Behold: an actual paper map that behaves a lot like a virtual one.
User experience consultant Anne Stauche has created "the zoomable map on paper," a square map that brilliantly unfolds into views of the city at different scales. Stauche has already designed the hand-folded "map²" for London and Berlin, and she's working on one for New York City. But it's no easy feat to make and mass produce these things, and so Stauche has a Kickstarter campaign winding down to expand the series.
"Looking at the great zoom features of digital map systems, I found it frustrating that their physical counterparts are not so flexible," Stauche says. "You usually have to open an entire map even if you only want to see one specific area, you can't choose the level of detail, and of course you can't zoom in."
The Internet has vastly expanded the possibilities of real-time, individualized mapping. But as it turns out, the web may also inspire us to create old-school, put-it-in-your-pocket paper maps in entirely new ways, too.