Maps have been at the centre of both politics and commerce down the ages, as well as key to the evelopment of the human imagination. In his new book, On The Map, Simon Garfield explains that, just as the empires of the past understood that marking territory was crucial, so Google and its rivals now wield influence.
They are even implicated in border disputes. Garfield describes how in 2010 the Nicaraguans cited Google Maps in support of their action when they invaded Costa Rica. Brian McClendon, who developed the mapping technology bought up by Google in 2004, told Garfield that the Nicaraguans argued that they were justified in moving onto the extra territory accidentally assigned to them.