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A Deeper Dive: The Pursuit of “Mappiness”

December 3, 2020, 7:00 pm - December 17, 2020, 8:00 pm

The first two sessions of this series have passed; however registration remains open for the final session and a recording of the first two can be viewed below. 

This three-part series will forever change the way you look at maps. We’ll use old maps, new maps, red maps, and blue maps to illustrate the ways in which scale, symbols, projections, and propaganda goals all influence how we perceive our world. We’ll peek behind the GPS curtain to understand the miracle of a global satellite network that makes our phones smarter and world politics more complicated. Do you associate local history with cutting edge technology? You may be surprised to see how dusty old maps from the archives are solving modern mysteries through online mapping tools. You will come away from our “Pursuit of Mappiness” as a more informed and discerning map reader seeing every map with new eyes.

Program Summary:  

December 3 (7:00 p.m. Central): “All Maps Are Lies” 

Maps spur our imagination. Maps transport us. In maps we trust. But all maps are lies. Filled with examples of maps from the Show-Me State and beyond, this presentation will forever change the way you look at maps. You will come away as a more informed and discerning map reader with an understanding that “not only is it easy to lie with maps, but it is essential.” 

December 10 (7:00 p.m. Central): “Mapping Yourself with GPS” 

The who, what, when, where, why, and how of global navigation technology is a story of geography, science, politics, and power.  While your GPS is finding the best route to Grandma’s house, it’s also monitoring worldwide nuclear detonations. When and why did the smartphone in your pocket start communicating with Russian satellites? We’ll take a glimpse behind the GPS curtain to better understand how our society relies on technology  for mapping ourselves.

December 17 (7:00 p.m. Central): “Mapping the Past” 

Libraries and archives preserve incredible hand-drawn maps documenting our history. Many American towns, even the small ones, and their historic buildings were repeatedly mapped at an outrageous level of detail in the 19th and 20th centuries before drones, aerial photography, or GPS. Now these maps, and the gold mine of information they contain, are becoming available to a wider audience. Learn how online mapping tools combine maps, old and new, to answer important questions about our past.

Speaker Bio:  

Kelly Johnston is a native of Missouri, earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Central Missouri and a graduate degree in Geographic Information Science from Indiana University. He taught mapping on the faculty at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and his maps have been published in the New York Times. Most recently he taught Geographic Information Systems at Drury University.

Accessing the program

This free, livestream program will take place via Zoom. Registration is open now and will remain open through the final live session on December 17.  By registering once, participants will receive links to all three live sessions via Zoom. To help us better serve our audiences, we have included some demographic questions in the registration form. Your response to these questions is voluntary but appreciated.  Thank you! 

Click here to register


The Linda Hall Library encourages people of all backgrounds and abilities to participate in our public programs.  Closed captioning is provided.  If you require additional reasonable accommodations in order to participate, please contact events@lindahall.org or call 816.926.8753 at least 24 hours in advance of the event. 

Once you register for this event, you will receive email communications from the Linda Hall Library and the Linda Hall Library Foundation. You may choose to opt out of these communications at any time. Your contact information will not be sold or provided to any third parties. 

The program will also livestream on the Library’s Facebook page.

This program is funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. 
Its content is solely the responsibility of the Linda Hall Library.




December 3, 2020, 7:00 pm
December 17, 2020, 8:00 pm
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Eric Ward

Questions? Contact Eric Ward at 816.926.8753 for more information about these events.

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