The lost language of GenZ: map reading

Business City Education

Map reading week goes without  the use of traditional  maps

Mumbai: Digital map reading has evolved as a new form of map reading and the younger generation has almost given up on traditional maps.

Prajakta Surve, a citizen, Mulund, Mumbai said, “I have not bought a map yet for my son. If, while studying Geography, he wants to see anything, we show maps on the internet. Especially since last year’s education was online, the question of buying a hard copy of a map didn’t arise. We used to have map reading competitions in the school. It gave us opportunities to learn about other countries. I think this generation is missing that learning.”

Traditional map selling has gone down at bookstores also. A representative of Sonal booksellers in Mulund, Mumbai said, “Earlier we had good demand for globe and maps as schools were going on. But as schools are closed since last year there is no demand for globe and maps at all. Though there is a demand for other books in online classes, schools are not asking students to buy maps or globe. Also, all these maps are available online hence no one is buying these traditional maps nowadays. We also haven’t ordered these maps since last year’s lockdown.”

Mahibur Rehman, Geography teacher said, “Everywhere we go we need to know the location and we realise the importance of reading maps. Many people get stuck at locations because they do not know the correct direction. Even though they have maps they still  can’t find the location because they have not been properly taught how to read a map. Hence map reading is essential for students to be clear on all the directions. Now that people directly put the location on Google maps, they are missing out on learning things like scale, distance, navigation.” 

Wooden map makers in Byculla, Mumbai said, “We make wooden maps which can be hung on the wall. Mostly we sell maps to big offices and they are our major customers. They keep using it for office decorations. But our sales have gone down now compared to earlier. Especially due to the second lockdown, many offices are closed. In the last six months, we have sold only twenty bigger maps. Our business has gone down by almost 20 to 30 percent.”

Map manufacturers, Planet Pvt. Ltd. said, “We get larger orders from corporates like IT firms, for bigger maps. We sell a bulk of1000 to 1500 maps at a time. After the second lockdown and also after the pandemic our orders for globe and other bigger maps have gone down by 90 percent. We take orders online or through phone, still demand for traditional maps due to lockdown is very less.”

Dr. Hariman Deka, head of department of geography, Mangadai College, said “Google maps is modern technology and it’s definitely useful in practical life. But it’s an easy method, it doesn’t give students more opportunities to learn.. In the case of traditional maps, they are more knowledgeable. Students get knowledge of scale, distance and exposure to more opportunities to learn all the surroundings of nearby areas.”