Friday, May 15, 2009

A road to nowhere

Maps. I like maps. I'm not sure why. Partly that is an aesthetic response

{{Potd/-- (en)}}Image via Wikipedia

and partly because they are engrossing to pore over. Though that does make me a very bad navigator as I'm more than likely looking at the wrong page when approaching a key junction. If you are planning a trip to the hinterlands then don't take me along if you want to be sure to get there. I'm ballast. A great passenger but as a driver or directioneer? Not so good.

When I'm poring over them I've got one mental eye open for trap streets - fictitious roads and locations put on printed maps to catch out copyright thieves. The reasoning being that anyone making a map for themselves would not reproduce those made-up places.

The story I'm working on at the moment caused me to look more closely at trap streets. I thought they would be pretty rare. Word has it that there are more than 100 in the 2005 edition of the London A-Z. 100! I guess that puts one on pretty much every page to catch people who copy any part of it.

There's been court cases over it so I guess they are real and work too. One of the first such fakes to be put in a reference work was Lillian Mountweazel who appeared in the 1975 edition of the New Columbia Encyclopedia.

Despite the claims that there are lots, not many have been found. A few here and there but no comprehensive list. There are even supposed to be phantom churches. Add a few more fake buildings and suddenly you have got a shadow city that exists only in cyberspace. Perhaps it is populated by those fake characters too. Fabulous.

Copyright symbolImage via Wikipedia

It's not quite that fab, though as often the trap streets do not last very long. Perhaps that's why they are so useful. On new developments, mappers give unnamed places a holding name until they get an official title. Hmm. That might work outside London but there can't be that many new streets popping up in the centre of town.

I wonder what would want to exploit, use or live in that parallel metropolis? Vampires? At least they'd be out of the sun all day. How would they get there. How would anyone get there?

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