The xkcd from last Friday, “Island Storage,” is the most recent map-related way that Randall Munroe has hurt us in the eyes.
All Online Maps Don’t Suck?
The notion expressed in Monday’s xkcd, particularly in the alt-text—
OpenStreetMap was always pretty good but is also now really good? And Apple Maps’s new zoomed-in design in certain cities like NYC and London is just gorgeous. It’s cool how there are all these good maps now!
—is unexpectedly more on point than not.
In 2013 I wrote a screed saying that all online maps sucked: that no one map platform had a monopoly on errors. At the time Exhibit A for the suckiness of online maps was Apple Maps; since then, and particularly since 2018, Apple has been putting in the work. Not that they’re done, but still: the product is fundamentally better now than it was then. And it’s not like the other platforms have been idle in the meantime. No one platform is going to achieve Cartography’s ideal of the universal and accurate Map—that’s inherently unachievable—but better? I’ll take better.
xkcd’s Madagascator Projection
Uncharacteristically for xkcd’s Bad Map Projection series, the Madagascator is actually totally legitimate as a projection. Not that it’s any less mischievous, mind.
Update, 3 May: Turns out there was more to this xkcd cartoon. See Mercator: Extreme.
xkcd: The Goode Homolosine to the Rescue!
Randall Munroe’s map projection humour is increasingly on point, as last Friday’s xkcd demonstrates. (The mouseover text is even better: “There are two rules on this ship: Never gaze back into the projection abyss, and never touch the red button labeled DYMAXION.”)
Previously: xkcd: The Greenland Special; xkcd: All South Americas; Blame the Mercator Projection; xkcd’s Time Zone Map; xkcd’s Liquid Resize Map Projection.
xkcd Sabotages Those Flag Maps
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.
xkcd: The Greenland Special
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.
xkcd: ‘No, The Other One’
How this map isn’t nothing but Columbuses and Springfields, I have no idea.
xkcd’s 2020 Election Map
xkcd did another map thing, so I have to post about it; it’s a rule. This time Randall revisits the design of the map he did for the 2016 U.S. presidential election, in which one figure represents 250,000 votes for each candidate. In a Twitter thread, he explains the rationale for the map:
It tries to address something that I find frustrating about election maps: Very few of them do a good job of showing where voters are. […] There are more Trump voters in California than Texas, more Biden voters in Texas than New York, more Trump voters in New York than Ohio, more Biden voters in Ohio than Massachusetts, more Trump voters in Massachusetts than Mississippi, and more Biden voters in Mississippi than Vermont.
Previously: xkcd’s 2016 Election Map.
The Contiguous 41 States—Wait, What?
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.
Previously: xkcd’s United States Map; ‘They Just Wanted to Fix Some Things About the State Borders’.
xkcd: Reaction Maps
The latest xkcd comic suggests a fiendish way to express yourself: by creating phrases from driving direction waypoints.
An obvious upgrade would be to use one or more of the places from the Magnificently Rude Map of World Place Names (previously).
xkcd: All South Americas
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.”
Previously: xkcd’s Time Zone Map; xkcd’s Liquid Resize Map Projection; xkcd’s United States Map.
xkcd on Coordinate Precision
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.
xckd’s ‘Least Informative’ Google Trends Maps
Oh look, another map-themed comic/infographic thingy from xkcd: the March 20 edition is having some fun with the maps generated by Google Trends data. The maps are real, says Randall.
Pop vs. Soda Maps Spoofed by xkcd
By law, I am required to share every xkcd comic about maps. Today’s makes great fun of pop versus soda maps—the maps showing where in the U.S. carbonated beverages are referred to as pop versus where they’re referred to as soda. Randall takes things to their ludicrous extremes, as he is, by law, required to do.
Blame the Mercator Projection
Last Friday’s xkcd suggests that the Mercator projection’s reputation can be used to convince anyone of any false geographical fact.
Not that I’d suggest you do that, mind. No.
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