Why I Am Posting Rather Than Publishing “Seduced by the Map”

Some six years ago I suspended GeoCurrents because I felt that I needed to write another scholarly book before I retired to maintain academic credibility. I had long been blogging on and teaching about the mismatch between the conventional political map and actual geopolitical conditions, and figured that it would make a nice book project. As I was already working on the topic, I thought that I could finish a manuscript in a year or two and then return to blogging. I made a plan and set about writing a book that I tentatively titled Seduced by the Map: How the Nation-State Model Prevents Us from Thinking Clearly about the World.

But the project did not go as I had imagined, in part because I had succumbed to the planning fallacy. As psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky showed in the late 1900s, most of us severely underestimate how much time will be needed to complete any major undertaking. A good general rule is to double the expected period of work. In this case, however, more time than that would have been necessary. I reached retirement age this summer and the manuscript was still not ready for submission. At the same time, I was growing tired of the whole endeavor, eager to move on to other topics. I therefore suspended work and abandoned plans for publication. But not wanting to discard everything that I had done, I decided to revive this website and post on the manuscript on it. This was not an easy decision. Seduced by the Mapwill not be taken nearly as seriously as it would have been if I had managed to publish it through a university press. It will also almost certainly have a much smaller readership. But at least interested readers will not have to purchase a book to get access to the information. Readers will also be able to make comments, add information, and provide criticism through the Disqus comments forum. Finally, I will also be able to include many more illustrations than would have been possible in a conventional book . All of that is some consolation.

The biggest problem that I encountered in trying to complete this project is the immense size of the relevant scholarly literature. The number of books and articles published on nationalism alone is staggering, and that is only one of several key topics that I needed to address. As I continued to read, I continued to add new material, especially to the introductory chapters. But these chapters then became bloated and unwieldly, and I found it necessary to prune heavily. But at the same time, I continued to find new information that seemed essential to include, resulting in further rounds of bloating and pruning. Eventually I decided to clean up the manuscript, call an end to the work, and get on with other projects. That has been liberating.

At any rate, I hope that a few people will read this manuscript and find it worthwhile. If so, please feel free to provide comments, and many thanks for taking the time to engage. The introduction to Seduced by the Mapshould appear on this site tomorrow.