maps

20 07 2008

[By Shawhin] I just read an article about mapping and thought I’d share.  It was about the influence of maps on people’s conception of the spaces around them and also about alternate methods of mapping and the ability of maps to discover and promote aspects of the world we engage with.

(to view larger version, click here: tehranshake-exhibit)


I’ve always been a big fan of maps.  The only poster I’ve ever had is a Peter’s Project World Map – which is essentially an equal area map of the world.  It’s amazing how much maps or depictions of space influence our concept of where we live or of a place.  Simple example: the common map most people see has the equator shifted far below center thus placing Europe roughly at the middle of the map whereas it should be closer to the top edge of the map; and on top of that, land mass areas are distorted resulting in gross misrepresentations of actual land sizes.  Europe, for example is actually less than two-thirds the size of South America, whereas in the maps we often refer to, Europe looks larger that South America.  You can see more examples illustrated at: http://www.petersmap.com/table.html.


… or the continents as one continuous land mass:

So I got to thinking of what Tehran was like in relation to the San Francisco Bay Area, or the neighborhood I grew up in and the neighborhood I live in now.  In my mind, Tehran is far larger that the Bay Area, but I did a little comparison, and they are actually not that far off.  Each of the paired comparisons shown below share the same scale: (view larger version here: tehranshake-exhibit)

A friend of mine from work also shared the following very interesting website with rare maps: http://www.raremaps.com/.  It’s so interesting to look at the range of perspectives people have held about perceived space, area, and distances.  More interesting still is thinking of ways we can create maps that bring new meaning to how or what we see in our world.

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2 responses

25 07 2008
Shideh

very interesting. I often think about how the Euro-centric view has affected most disciplines, which is not limited to geography. It’s interesting that it is clearly evident in world maps as you pointed out though.
Most people around the world are familiar with European artists, philosophers, politicians, musicians, architects, scientists, etc. I wonder what it would have been like if everyone started seeing the entire world through fair glasses. Life would have probably been quite different if everyone credited the Egyptians, the Chinese, the Persians, and others outside of the European influence according to their contributions as opposed to denying their vast historical influence on many things that we consider European in origin. I can say that in the case of Iran, much of the current conflict might have been prevented if Iran’s history was better known and acknowledged!

25 07 2008
Shawhin

An interesting mapping project, the wikibivouac: http://ecosistemaurbano.org/?p=1081… it’s a bit more abstract but the concepts are interesting – I’m curious to see if it will take flight.

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