The great unknown. Hundreds of years of expeditions, crossing the perilous oceans and mountains, often for years at a time, in extreme conditions to consciously map the geological topography of the planet. What do other places look like? What’s at the bottom of the ocean, south of Africa, at the South Pole, in the middle of the Guatemalan jungle, on top of Everest? Curiosity drove people to find out. What resources are out there? Spices, precious metals, foods, animals, peoples? What new opportunities are there?
When these explorers set out, many of the people at home told them the world was flat, everywhere else looked just like it did at home, and if you traveled far enough you would fall off the edge. The explorers went anyway. They discovered a wide variety of landscapes, seascapes, foods, natural resources, beautiful scenes, extreme environments, animals, plants, cultures, languages, and sports.
Now that we have mapped much of the earth and the solar system, what is next? The new explorers are mapping the social topography of human agreements.
Like the earlier observers, many of the people at home suggest that the topography of human agreements is also flat, with everywhere being a better or worse version of what home looks like, and if you try to go far from that version you will fall off the edge of the earth, into the underdeveloped void.
With our colleagues around the world, we are beginning to see that the social topography of human agreements is as varied as our earths’s geological topography. Peaks and valleys in many forms. Treasures abound. Things we have never imagined around every corner. The flatearthers of human agreements are missing out–there is a lot of treasure out there, ready for all of us to discover, marvel at, and learn from. It only takes the quest(ion) to find it.
In the next post, I will share what we are doing to map this new frontier, the social topography of human agreements.