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A Guide to the City

Chengdu: The Factory

Personalised city guide site Jauntful opened out of beta this week. It is co-founded by a couple of good friends Raphael and Moka and it’s been interesting to have an insider’s view of it’s development.

I created a couple of maps: Tokyo for Cafe and Coffee Lovers and Kabul: A Walking Tour. We all have one or two city guides in us, usually living somewhere in Google Docs, that are shared when friends come to town, and they have their own aesthetic, wear, feel.

Jauntful comes into its own for printed maps beautifully rendered for example Moka’s Paris: The City for Lovers… of Designery. and as such they’ve had to find the right line between restrained and well manicured content and the freedom to tinker. Just as Twitter forces a constrained style of writing, so do the constraints of pre-determined note fields – you need to think about what to say, and not everyone has sufficient writer in them to be able to pull it off.

Thoughts for today: In a world of digital who values physical printed maps? Do they value beautifully rendered ones? How does a beautiful, personalised map change one’s perception of a journey? Of an experience? Or of the expectation of a visit? For what kinds of visitors is it worth making the effort to give them something extra? And who else could benefit from it? The hospitality business is an obvious target.

What does put in? And what does one leave out? My Tokyo maps contains gems that visitors rarely get to see, but I also deliberately left out my favourite cafe in the city because I don’t want a bunch of stranger turning up and changing what makes it so compelling. Jauntful handles this pretty well by having private maps. I have a Tokyo Obscura map of those fantastic places that for me, define the city, but that’s just for close friends, unless they in turn decide to share. Normal rules of social etiquette abound.

Try Jauntful here.