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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Maps of the World

Jorge Luis Borges is said to have remarked that the only accurate representation of reality would be reality itself; by extension, the only accurate map of the Earth would be the exact shape and size of the Earth itself. Since we cannot construct such a map, we accept a certain level of inaccuracy from our maps, conceding, for instance, that individual buildings need not be marked on a city map, or that fluctuations in elevations will remain unmarked until they deviate by more than a set number of feet from a pre-established elevation. As Borges implied, we must expect some inaccuracies of this kind. But even beyond this simple separation of reality and representation, our society functions in relative naïveté about the accuracy of maps. Most of us blindly accept the borders on our maps, for example, but if you ask an Indian and a Pakistani to draw the boundaries of Kashmir on a blank map of the Indian subcontinent you will almost surely get two very different maps (From Modern Medieval Map Myths: The Flat World, Ancient Sea-Kings, and Dragons, by Michael Livingston)

Medieval World Maps
In this are listed the medieval cartographic images in the wonderful Henry Davis's collection, such as the Macrobian (A.D. 400), the Al-lstakhri (A.D. 934), and the Polychronicon (A.D. 1350)
Launch

Wolrdmapper
The maps presented on this website are cartograms, otherwise known as density-equalising maps. The maps of the world you are used to seeing attempt to represent countries according to their land area. A cartogram re-sizes each country (or other geographical unit) according to some other variable - for example population, GDP, number of people with AIDS, etc. In the population example, densely-populated country such as the UK will appear much larger than it does on a standard map, and sparsely populated countries will appear smaller
Launch

Maplecroft
Maplecroft is a highly visual web-based resource which contains detailed country information for over 200 states and maps key social, economic, environmental and political issues and their significance to business and society. The interactive map enables users to view an issue individually or in combination with other issues in order to illustrate the relationship between two or more associated topics. This innovative tool is designed to raise awareness amongst corporations, government and non governmental organisations, academics and students of how an organisation's operations interact with wider society, and how the risks and opportunities generated can be responsibly managed through stakeholder engagement and partnership
Launch

World Sunlight Map
Watch the sun rise and set all over the world on this real-time, computer-generated illustration of the earth's patterns of sunlight, darkness, and cloud cover based on current weather satellite data
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Internet Mapping Project
The Internet has a diameter of about 10,000 pookies
Launch

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