The surprising history of the first message map
There was a guy in Sicily who obtained high quality prints of historical maps, hand-colored them, and sold them in the public market in Catania, not far from the seafood stalls.
When he sold them, he described the historical and cultural details they captured in detail. He was a cultural historian; the lecture was part of the deal for me.
Was he a “map maker”? I’m inclined to say yes, but wth do I know.
Message Maps isn’t a “real” map maker either; instead, its “strategic message maps” exist to help grow a business, basically.
Meanwhile, the first map of any kind, as far as we know, was Imago Mundi, created by a Babylonian 2,700 or so years ago.
Here it is with Babylon at the central point of the world’s great commercial and cultural internet, the Euphrates (the vertical swath):
Nowadays, geographic maps are more utilitarian but this map’s main job was not to “give you directions to a taco stand” but to convey key messages:
- Babylon sits at the intersection of the world
- Babylon is a great commercial hub and a center of riches
- Babylon is a cosmopolitan city of knowledge, learning, artistry
- Babylon is the most multicultural and multi-linguistic place in the world – you are welcome here
So I guess I’m not the first to make a message map.
But here’s the real takeaway: strategic message maps are nothing new and they have helped organizations grow for a long time.
(This was originally published on Art of Message – subscribe here)