Woods in Ealing by the Grand Union Canal. The view from Alexandra Palace, looking south across #London.

Me on National Geographic Live!

Last year I was lucky enough to be invited into National Geographic in Washington DC to give a Nat Geo Live! presentation. Part of National Geographic’s Geography Awareness Week this is my 50 minute presentation compressed into 20. I hope you like it.

How to become a death-defying explorer, like me

Being an explorer is inherently risky. Asking questions and venturing into the unknown is fraught with dangers, but by overcoming our fears we create seemingly endless opportunities to learn about ourselves and the world around us. Danger is a relative term though. Our perception, knowledge and understanding of “hazards”, our ability to asses and mitigate their risks as well as our motivations for (not) overcoming them vary massively between each and everyone of us. What feels like a comfortable walk in the (world’s largest national) park to one person can feel highly adventurous for another.

This sense of relativity is what convinces me that we are all explorers who go to extremes and accomplish death defying acts (from the likes of this and this). Your extremes may not be to venture to the Earth’s freezing poles, but in our everyday lives we perform experimental and extreme acts that put at risk our jobs, relationships, time and money. My latest gamble was on Sex and the City 2. Despite my best risk assessment I ended up losing part of my life to that film, something I’ll be mourning for days to come.

We are all explorers and as we venture through our life-journeys the best things we can do to increase our chances of survival are to trust aggregated review sites and to learn some basic first aid. I think this video from St Johns Ambulance is extremely powerful.

Getting on a First Aid course is a great idea. If you’ve got a smart phone then I highly recommend this app by the British Red Cross. It’s one of the best ways to become a death-defying explorer, like me.

Exploration Revolution


I’m looking forward to speaking at a National Geographic event at the Wellcome Collection tonight ahead of the 125th anniversary of the organisation. The evening for commercial supporters of National Geographic in the UK is called the “New Age of Exploration”. In my short presentation I plan to (re)frame what ‘geography’ is (much like in this recent interview with Geographical Magazine) and then touch on an ‘exploration revolution’ that is taking place. Technology is not only changing how we conceive, plan, organise, conduct, share and review our explorations, but the number of people who can engage in them.

I love this short video by ito! showing four years of edits on Open Street Map. It’s an awesome example of collaborative and open exploration that involved over 750,000 registered users and shows collaboration at its best. For me, some of the most exciting cartographic ‘events’ in this video are where sparks of activity appear in countries, regions and neighbourhoods that were otherwise left uncharted or unpublished by governments and other organisations. It all demonstrates that places are not just discovered once, they can be discovered and rediscovered millions of times as they change and new people and other animals visit them. It’s a video that shows an Exploration Revolution that you are unavoidably part of…


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