“Nothing tells us more about the spread of humans across the Earth than city lights.”...
"For three weeks spread out over April and October of this year, the Suomi NPP satellite (jointly of NASA and NOAA) scanned all the Earth's land as it appeared at night. Scientists then mapped the satellite's data -- 2.5 terabytes of it -- over an earlier Blue Marble image, transforming that picture's daytime blues, browns, and greens into a nightime palette of blues, blacks, and gold."
This video is a great compliment to the classic Earth at Night composite image as well as the adjusted cartogram for population density.
Questions to Ponder: What do these lights "tell us" about human geography? What does the intensity of the lights indicate?
This is a clip from the TV show West Wing (Season 2-Episode 16) where cartography plays a key role in the plot. In this episode the fictitious (but still on Facebook) group named "the Organization of Cartographers for Social Justice" is campaigning to have the President officially endorse the Gall-Peters Projection in schools and denounce the Mercator projection. The argument being that children will grow up thinking some places are not as important because they are minimized by the map projection. While a bit comical, the cartographic debate is quite informative even if it was designed to appear as though the issue was trivial.
Questions to Ponder: Why do map projections matter? Is one global map projection inherently better than the rest?
TED Talks Map designer Aris Venetikidis is fascinated by the maps we draw in our minds as we move around a city -- less like street maps, more like schematics or wiring diagrams, abstract images of relationships between places.
This video touches on numerous themes that are crucial to geographers including: 1) how our minds arrange spatial information, 2) how to best graphically represent spatial information in a useful manner for your audience and 3) how mapping a place can be the impetus for changing outdated systems. This is the story of how a cartographer working to improve a local transportation system map, which in turn, started city projects to improve the infrastructure and public utilities in Dublin, Ireland. This cartographer argues that the best map design for a transport system needs to conform to how on cognitive mental mapping works more so than geographic accuracy (like so many subway maps do).