Monday, April 27, 2009

Journey past the center of the earth

As a kid I was fascinated by what was on the other side of the world – and we got very literal about it. Digging a hole in the beach always seemed like a sensible start until we got tired and the tide came in! In Lancaster, where I grew up, we believed we could dig through to New Zealand because it looked like it was on the opposite side to us on the globe we had at school. Was this experience in the back of my mind when I made my home in New Zealand? An outfit called Antipodes Map wouldn’t be surprised. This is a company fueled by opposites. Using Google Maps, they can show you the antipodes of any place on earth. The antipodes is the opposite point on the planet from where you are. I was a little disappointed to find that in fact the antipode of Lancaster is deep in the Pacific Ocean. Not far from New Zealand for sure, and intriguingly, right on the International Date Line, but still not on dry land. As the ocean covers about two-thirds of the planet, I guess that’s a common result. However, Antipodes Map does reveal that my home in Auckland has its antipodes mid-point between Malaga and Cádiz in Spain.

Is this just a game? Of course it is, but like all games it shows something profound about human beings and what drives them. Start with the romance and the mystery the ends of the world have always exerted. What’s round the corner, over the hill, across the sea, and on the other side of the planet has always been a magnet for the adventuring spirit. I reckon that Antipodes Map would be a brilliant tool when you’re choosing people to work with. Turn the tedious old recruitment exercises on their heads. Give people the software, and anyone who can’t play around with it for ten minutes and come up with a flood of ideas probably lacks the crucial quality I hope you are looking for: curiosity. For me, the unknown is one of our great driving forces. It’s why even in tough times like now, when no one has any idea about what’s coming next and they even admit it, challenge is the only thing worth turning yourself upside down for. Still, I’m glad I didn’t dig that tunnel and drown Lancaster under the gushing waters of the South Pacific.

1 comment:

Kate said...

Here's a map I enjoy, - it shows you what books people are buying across the globe.