The Shape of the WorldThis is yet another winning DVD set from the Athena folks, I do not know how they find the material, but when it comes to documentaries they can not be beat.

We think little about mapping the world today, from the comfort of my PC I can go anywhere in the world I wish using services like Google Earth. I can live my past vicariously through Google Street Maps, I can cruise down the streets that I used to frequent, or I can visit new places. In fact before we even came to look at the house we now live in, I had checked the area out through the computer.

Our experiences today though are a far cry from those of our forefathers. The history of cartography is a great adventure. I love history, and this one aspect reveals so much about our society today. Even our early ancestors had a need to understand the world that they lived in. The great civilizations of Greece and Rome also had a driving need to understand the ‘world’ that they owned, or planned on owning. The Chinese may have been the finest cartographers of their own world, but cared less about the rest of the planet, merely noting that everywhere outside of China was undesirable.

One thing is clear, man has an insatiable appetite to understand his world, from the smallest island nation to the largest continent, everyone wants the knowledge. Maps of everything, the physical, the metaphysical, and the heavens. Maps are part of our history, and part of our future.

Patrick Stewart is best known for his role in Star Trek, a sci fi adventure, yet an adventure that involves mans quest to learn. It is fitting that he should narrate this series.

The mapping of the world continues today, it is by no means complete, the depths of the oceans are sill not well understood. The heavens reveal more data every day, there is a new Lunar probe starting to bring back better images than we have ever seen before of the Moon, the two small Mars explores continue to relay their data back to us.

By nature we are inquisitive, our thirst for knowledge is insatiable. Our need to map is an unquenchable thirst. We have mapped most of our world, we map other worlds, we map ourselves, understanding DNA is as important as understanding our planet.

I for one am, and always will be a huge fan of maps. As a kid I spent endless hours pouring over maps of the area I lived in. Potential fishing holes, potential areas of adventure, the map contained everything. Last year (and I still do not know how I did it) I persuaded my wife to take a 4 day bus ride rather than a four hour plane ride. Three Canadian provinces, and seven US states, I had my map, and now I have my memories. Maps are great.

The Shape Of The World will be available in your favorite Video store on August 4, but you can beat the rush by ordering your copy from Athena.

Other Athena titles that I have really enjoyed are Every Picture Tells A Story and Brian Sewell’s Grand Tour. Take a trip on the wild side. This company really has some powerful stuff.
Simon Barrett

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