Wolf Hall meets GIS: Mapping musings for the holidays

The great Mark Rylance in character of Thomas Cromwell, from the BBC. I realize this is not the real Cromwell, but Rylance is way easier on the eyes.There are so many reasons I keep returning to Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. The book to me seems infinitely revealing, I keep hearing new details. I also managed to use a quote from the book's dialogue in a faculty meeting this year, so there. She comments on history, art, science, collaboration, violence, power, love, politics, craft, cooking, and family. And of course, also mapping. Maps are mentioned many times through the book. At the end, Mantel has Thomas Cromwell say:

"But the trouble is, maps are always last year's. England is always remaking herself, her cliffs eroding, her sandbanks drifting, springs bubbling up in dead ground. They regroup themselves while we sleep, the landscapes through which we move..."

Lovely stuff! and a great holiday read (or re-read, or re-listen). It reminds us that mapping is a continual effort, a continuous process. All that we map changes: crops are harvested and fields are replanted, cities evolve, forests burn and re-grow, and people move across the face of the earth leaving traces. Our task is to capture in virtual space the key functional elements of space and time - through maps, through spectral reflectance and lidar, through text and discussions - so that we can find answers to to the key questions facing society today. It can also be very personal effort: mapping is mostly concerned with finding the best way to represent and describe a landscape or process that we love and want to understand better. 

Excerpt From: Mantel, Hilary. Wolf Hall. Henry Holt and Company, 2009. iBooks.