Chicagoan Adrian Holovaty, former Washington Post in-house Web genius and now of EveryBlock fame, is kicking off the Mapping Today series, a Festival of Maps spinoff, at the Chicago Cultural Center on Wednesday. Also, take a minute to read Nick Paumgarten’s 2006 New Yorker piece on maps in Chicago and beyond.

“The tension between these two modes of navigating [the itinerary, or strip, map and the road map] goes back to these maps,” he said. “The itinerary represents space as one experiences it on the ground. A map like this [a coastline map] has that element, but it starts to introduce the notion that you can conceive of it as a larger unit. It’s a God’s-eye view, which puts you in charge of navigating through space. This is the origin of the notion that you can pull yourself away from the world and see it from above.”

The irony is that centuries later, when we have perfected the God’s-eye map and become conversant with it, we have, in the thrall of technology, turned back to the ancient way: the itinerary and the strip map. OnStar and MapQuest zero in on the information that’s relevant to reaching your destination. “They close down your choices and give you a route,” Akerman said