Finding Home with a Homemade Map

We’re going to start this week out with some good news and for that we turn to China. 30 years ago, child traffickers kidnapped four-year old Li Jingwei from his family and sold him to another family over 1,000 miles away. A BBC article from earlier this month covered Li Jingwei’s reunion with his family. How did it happen? Because of a map he drew and shared with the internet.

Here’s a screenshot of that map.

It’s missing a Starbucks though

We all create mental maps of our surroundings. And not surprisingly they grow larger as we get older. But this man’s ability to recall details of his family hometown allowed internet sleuths, and eventually the police, to identify the village. DNA tests then connected Li to a woman whose son had been abducted.

When we draw out these maps ourselves they become a link to the cartographic world. And that this man was able to use his own mental map to find his home. Well, like I said, we’re going to start the news off with some good news.

Credit for the piece goes to Li Jingwei.

Author: Brendan Barry

I am a graphic designer who focuses on information design. My day job? Well, they asked me not to say. But to be clear, this blog is my something I do on my own time and does not represent the views of…my employers. I think what I can say is that given my interest in information design—be it in the shape of clear charts, maps, diagrams, or wayfinding systems—I am fortunate that my day job focuses on data visualisation. Outside of work, I try to stay busy with personal design work. Away from the world of design, I have become an amateur genealogist and family historian. You will sometimes see that area of work bleed into my posts.

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