We all have our cognitive maps. We pull them out when we need them.
Thinking about, say, climate change, you might have invested in a sophisticated map that details meteorological data through a long historical arc, coupled with markers of population growth and trade expansion, colonial conquest and agricultural development, a little more...Your map will be of great use to you, and others around you. And you likely invest in similar maps.
But there's something about the implications of our moment in history, what we're living through, that suggest the territory ahead is not quite what we thought it would be. We've maybe sensed this a little with Covid-19. Odd valleys, deep ones we didn't see from the ridges.
We have great maps, but the map is not the territory.
If you like to walk in the bush and occasionally go cross-country, in a way that makes you reliant on a topographic 1:25,000, you'll know that, when navigating, its vital to question your assumptions. Your map is crucial but you know that its wise to pull back from it occasionally and analyse its effect on your thinking, check its veracity, your interpretation of it, and fiddle with its orientation. Sometimes its some random knowledge—the way vegetation interacts with geology, perhaps—that gives a clue more reliable than the system of path-finding you were relying on.
Sometimes something happens to cause you to lose your map altogether, or render it unusable. Its then that you really begin to interact with the territory you find yourself in. Who knows, then, what knowledge or insight will become relevant to your survival.
The Map Is Not the Territory is our name for an annotated collection of works, curated for relevance, of what we think are highly valuable contributions, in different media, from various thinkers around the world. The name is a reminder to ourselves, as much as anyone, to never quite be satisfied with our picture of things. And that an inquisitive mind is a highly adaptive tool.
At least, its a list of recommended reading, listening and watching, with resilience and adaptation in mind, humbly posted. At best, its a double-handful of new data points, hard-won insights and alternate entryways to new fields of understanding, strewn online for readers to investigate. Perhaps it could help deepen your adaptive capacities and consolidate your systems of sense-making, revealing something about the nature of the territory ahead.
In any case, we hope you find something of use.