I have a penchant for maps, as some of you know.
They are remarkable feats of human cognition - not only in our capacity to create them, but for our ability to discern from them the relationship of places and things on vast scales. All of us can draw a simple diagram of places in the sand, and all of us can understand them instinctively.
Maps reveal a little bit of genius in all of us.
And as a communicator, I have an interest in the visual image as a persuasive vehicle for abstract ideas.
At their best, images like maps are data-rich treasure troves, delivering at a glance and in an instant a complete download of useful information.
At their worst, they're the perfect canvas for propaganda and agit-prop. Cheap to produce, easy to replicate distortions of reality to leverage fear, hate or anxiety.
The Economist has assembled a remarkable collection of maps used - depending on your perspective - to inform, persuade or deliberately distort.
Thanks Paddy Blewer for pushing this my way.
As witty and beautiful as they are, their unsubtle visions of a threatening outside world – reminiscent of medieval warnings about terra incognita, “here be monsters” – both reflected and encouraged jingoism.