Friday, 7 November 2008

I did the actual wiki-ing today but the spark for this train of thought came from a time when I told my roommate about how the Mercator projection screws up perspective of world geography and how a globe is a better indicator of geographical proportion.

Intrigued we did what net-heads must do. We wiki-ed 'mercator projection'. Even as we had gotten to the mathematical function that explains the flattening of the globe to depict our planet as a two dimensional expanse (trying get us to beleive the world is flat aren't they?) my roommate began voicing concerns that given the tendency of the mercator projection to increase the apparent geographical expanse of the Northern and developed world. I brushed him aside saying that this is the only way to depict our sphere on a flat surface. I was proved wrong by the time we got to the see also section of the wiki article. There is the Cassini projection, Dymaxion map, equirectangular projection, Gall-peters projection, Gnomonic projection and a host of others which I couldn't be bothered to follow. Barring the equirectangular projection which seems quite similar to the mercator projection, all the others were quite an experience as they provided a view of the world in a way I had never seen before. Especially reading about the controversy surrounding the Gall-peters projections I began to think that there was some basis to the 'cartographical imperialism' conspiracy theory which says that the maps were designed this way to make the developed nations appear bigger than they are. If you, have seen only the mercator projection map for most of your life, do follow the links that I've provided and beleive me, the world as you see it shall never be the same again.

This had faded from the desktop of my mind till I listened to the song 'land down under' by 'men at work'. Then remembering the truth about map projection, I immediately and easily kicked away another myth that had formed in my head as I already knew in theory that the world is not necessarily so. This was the myth that north is up and south is down and thereby the land that produced Gilchrist is down under.

Even so I didn't seem to be mentally prepared to see the upside down map and it took me quite by surprise. And turns out that I am not in an obscure minority either. There is a sizable movement which is dedicated to removing the north up bias from the minds of people.

Wiki says that thes also serve as a critical thinking tool and that they are sold as souvenirs in Australia and New Zealand. Another online source shows rotated maps and maps which seem completely different from any other I've seen before but depicting the same planet and as accurately as any other.


BAbramms said...

Thanks for the tip about the song 'land down under' by 'men at work'. Our web site,, is dedicated to deconstructing those types of world view "prejudices."
WE have a new social justice DVD which deals with that "map issue." In fact we'll give you a free copy if you hold a screening of Arno Peters: Radical Map, Remarkable Man
As someone concerned with Fair Trade, Social Justice, environmental &
Media Literacy issues, you will be particularly pleased with the
collection of resources that we've packed onto the DVD. In addition to this fascinating story of a very controversial man and his radical map, we've also included director's cuts, movie trailers,
MP3 audio files, and over 300 PowerPoint slides. We also networked with a variety of organizations, many of which we met at the US Social Forum in Atlanta, to add some outstanding bonus features. This DVD is a
fantastic resource to cover a variety of social justice issues, which were at the heart of Arno Peters' motivation to create his innovative map.
If you'd like a copy of the DVD, all you need to do is host a local
screening of it -- even in your home.
Simply go to:
and click on Host a screening at the left. Also, if you know of
journalists or reviewers who would like to receive a copy, please have them contact me.
A YouTube Trailer is available on the web at:
Or you would like to simply order a copy, go to:
Bob Abramms
ODT Maps
1-800-736-1293 * 1-413-549-1293 * Fax: 1-413-549-3503

a fan said...

Completely different line of thinking :)

Thanks for posting's really like questioning why 1 is 1 :)

vikramhegde said...


tried your website. Sadly it is only for those living in US or Canada. Would have loved to have a screening here in law school.

@a fan
Thanks a lot. For reading, sharing and for the compliment.

You wuz here