Worldmapper: seeing the world in new ways

by Richard on February 26, 2007

All maps are a distortion in one way or another. It just isn’t possible to present the surface of a sphere onto a flat surface without introducing some sort of inaccuracy. The conventional Mercator’s projection — the one we’re all used to from our school atlases — offers a map on which straight lines are lines of constant compass bearing. Dead useful for navigation, but by preserving the shapes of the nations as they appear on the globe, the map introduces a distortion in the relative sizes of the nations. The Peter’s Projection, on the other hand, deliberately presents relative land areas accurately but distorts the shapes of the land masses.

Now there’s a new way of looking at the world: Worldmapper produces maps on which territories are re-sized according to a subject of interest. Absolutely fascinating.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }


Catholic Richard 02.27.07 at 6:30 pm

Anyone familiar with the surrealist comedy novels of Robert Rankin will know the answer he presents to the problem of mapping a sphere onto a flat piece of paper- His character, Hugo Rune, challenges a fellow philosopher to wrap a map around a globe of the same size, which is only accomplishable by cutting out pieces of the map- once this is done, it fits exactly. According to Rune, these cut away pieces of map are the “hidden zones”, areas all over the world which humans cannot get into. In these accumulate biros, small screwdrivers, and any items which disappear in every day use- it all ends up in the hidden zones. They’re ruled over by fairies, by the way, but that’s not really relevant.
I hope I’ve explained that coherently. It’s a completely insane theory, of course, but I haven’t yet found any conclusive proof that it isn’t also true.


T 02.28.07 at 6:35 pm

Now any West Wing fans will have been aware of the discrepancies in map-dom (is that a word?) for many years…ever since its campaigners made an appearance on big block of cheese day :)
You see, the West Wing really was educational!

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