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Why Map Projections Matter

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?  

 

Tags: Mapping, geospatial, video, visualization. 

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Lydia Blevins's comment, September 13, 2012 6:17 AM
I think it is very important that we start using more accurate maps. In school, the maps we use are so different from how the world actually is. I agree that children will grow up thinking some places are less important because they are minimized by the map projection.
Greg Atkinson's comment, October 10, 2012 12:31 PM
Great clip. I use it in my WRG class as a comedic introduction to the power of projection.
Mary Patrick Schoettinger's curator insight, December 18, 2012 3:01 PM

This absolutely the best video clip for SS teachers EVER!

Rescooped by Rachel Mon from Metaglossia: The Translation World
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The TRUE Size Of Africa - An Erroneous Map Misled Us For 500 Years!

The TRUE Size Of Africa - An Erroneous Map Misled Us For 500 Years! | humen geography | Scoop.it

The map shows how Africa (30,3 million km⊃2;) is larger than the combination of China (9,6 million km⊃2;), the US (9,4 million km⊃2;), Western Europe (4,9 million km⊃2;), India (3,2 million km⊃2;) and Argentina (2,8 million km⊃2;), three Scandinavian countries and the British Isles (map gives no surface for these last two areas). Map Source

The Peters Projection World Map


The Peters Projection World Map is one of the most stimulating, and controversial, images of the world. When this map was first introduced by historian and cartographer Dr. Arno Peters at a Press Conference in Germany in 1974 it generated a firestorm of debate. The first English-version of the map was published in 1983, and it continues to have passionate fans as well as staunch detractors.

The earth is round. The challenge of any world map is to represent a round earth on a flat surface. There are literally thousands of map projections. Each has certain strengths and corresponding weaknesses. Choosing among them is an exercise in values clarification: you have to decide what's important to you. That is generally determined by the way you intend to use the map. The Peters Projection is an area accurate map. - See more at: http://www.whydontyoutrythis.com/2013/04/the-true-size-of-africa-erroneous-map.html#sthash.faoavt3e.61TU0ZBQ.dpuf


Via Charles Tiayon
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Rudolf Kabutz's curator insight, May 6, 2013 2:36 PM

The medium of mapping greatly influenced perspectives. How do our present mediums of audio, video and text influence the perspectives of our present media users?