Maps where countries are coloured in with flag patterns: I’ve seen a lot of them around, especially on Reddit, but I haven’t necessarily liked them; xkcd’s comic from last Wednesday goes one step further in that it offers a way to hack them.
Inspired, he says, by Itchy Feet’s maps of Every European City and Every American City, Alfred Twu has come up with a Map of Every Chinese City. (Chinese version here.) Twu is no stranger to these parts: he worked on rail maps for California and the Northeast Corridor some years back.
At some point, xkcd cartoonist Randall Munroe is going to put out a book focusing on his map-related cartoons, isn’t he. The latest in his “Bad Map Projection” series (previously: All South Americas, Time Zones, Liquid Resize) is The Greenland Special, an equal-area projection except for Greenland, which uses Mercator. And I thought he was messing with us before.
How this map isn’t nothing but Columbuses and Springfields, I have no idea.
The thing about this xkcd cartoon is that at first glance it’s entirely plausible: Randall has done violence to state boundaries while maintaining the rough overall shape of the lower 48. He’s snipped out seven states without anyone noticing if they don’t look too closely.
A map of Scarfolk has been announced. For those blissfully unaware, Scarfolk is Richard Littler’s fictional, satirical English town locked in a 1970s-era dystopia. Littler has been producing deeply creepy examples of graphic design—public information posters, mainly—purporting to emanate from Scarfolk authorities on his blog and in two books so far. This “road and leisure map for uninvited tourists,” which apparently comes with a postcard and visa, costs £12. As they say in Scarfolk: For more information please reread. [via]
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal’s take on the Mercator projection is … not what you’d expect. The punch line is similar to Christopher Rowe’s short story, “Another Word for Map Is Faith”: if you can’t make the map conform to the territory, make the territory conform to the map. Since we’re dealing with the Mercator projection, this requires some … escalation.
xkcd is back with another bad map projection: in this one, it’s all South Americas. The alt-text: “The projection does a good job preserving both distance and azimuth, at the cost of really exaggerating how many South Americas there are.”
If you’re not familiar with that poem, here’s the key passage:
He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.
“What’s the good of Mercator’s North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?”
So the Bellman would cry and the crew would reply
“They are merely conventional signs!
“Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we’ve got our brave Captain to thank:”
(So the crew would protest) “that he’s bought us the best—
A perfect and absolute blank!”
And here’s the accompanying map:
It’s not like xkcd has a monopoly on comics about maps. Last week, Zach Weinersmith’s Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal web comic posted a comic about alternative non-spherical Earth theories: everything from a hollow Earth to, well, stranger variations—including a slightly lumpy oblate spheroid Earth, which I frankly find hard to believe in.
In Monday’s xckd, Randall Munroe points out that when it comes to coordinate precision, there is such a thing as too many decimal places.
After a hiatus of more than two and a half years, Jay Foreman and Mark Cooper-Jones are back to producing new episodes of Map Men. Back in 2016 I called the series “two silly people being very smart about often-silly cartographical situations” (though I may have gotten that backward). Anyway, they’re back, with episodes on the geological origins of the English-Scottish border and trap streets.
On Last Week Tonight’s 17 February episode, host John Oliver took a moment to look at how New Zealand keeps getting left off world maps—the case of IKEA’s map poster being the most recent example. They are nothing if not helpful: as a solution, the show’s Twitter account has posted a cutout map of New Zealand to print and paste on any map that has left it off.
IKEA’s going to need extra security.