Crafty Cartography
November 12, 2007 4:36 PM   Subscribe

Lost? Why not consult a map? Because, according to a past exhibit at the British Library, the mapmaker might have a political agenda.
posted by Rykey (14 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
For such an old map the do a better job on PEI and Cape Breton than a lot of drawings I see today.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:50 PM on November 12, 2007

If ya wants cartographic neutrality, it's hard to beat Buckminster Fuller's nifty Dymaxion map. ;p
posted by PsychoKick at 5:02 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Interesting, but it seems from the story that the point of creating the second linked map was to illustrate a political agenda for discussion: this is how the English wanted the land to be divided up.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:29 PM on November 12, 2007

How quaint.
posted by Saddo at 5:53 PM on November 12, 2007

A great modern example of the political agenda of the mapmaker is a German school atlas from the '60s that my ex owns. The GDR is labeled "eastern Germany" (as if it just a bit east of here), and just past the soi disant eastern Germany is my ex-father-in-law's birthplace.

When he was born, it was part of Germany. In the '60s, the map very carefully explained that it was "currently under Polish control".

No. No agenda there.
posted by djfiander at 6:15 PM on November 12, 2007

For the vast majority of history, map-making has primarily been an exercise in stating "this bit is ours, not yours". Put something in the blank bits, and if someone else actually found something there you could say "oh yeah, see, that's what we meant - so it's still ours". It's really only been within the last couple of hundred years that they've changed from that to a description of things not to run in to.

Of course, our more enlightened and civilised society nowadays still uses maps to say "this bit will be ours, not yours".
posted by Pinback at 6:54 PM on November 12, 2007

Venezuela issued map stamps to make its claims to most of Guyana.
posted by adamg at 7:05 PM on November 12, 2007

Saddo-- maybe we'll see an exhibit of redistricting maps in the near future. Texas would need its own wing.

A good MetaProjects for somebody?
posted by Rykey at 7:05 PM on November 12, 2007

I recently made a website for a medical conference to be held in Japan, but they made me redo the "conference venue" page because my map of Japan didn't show the 4 rocky, godforsaken Kuril Islands north of Hokkaido, which are claimed by Japan on the grounds that Russia didn't sign the San Francisco treaty at the end of WWII. I had to include these islands as part of Japanese territory on the map. Lookit me, I'm a Japanese nationalist web designer.
posted by planetkyoto at 7:12 PM on November 12, 2007

Map making is rife with ways of deceiving people, always has been. A favorite example of one of my cartography & GIS teachers was using the mercator projection, which makes things larger the further they are from the poles, and then coloring communist countries red. With Russia stretched via the mercator and then colored red, it really looks like the majority of the world is communist and out to get you. Since any map projection contains distortion of distance, size, shape, direction, or all of the above, though, it's all about "which factual distortion do I want?"
posted by agentofselection at 7:26 PM on November 12, 2007

Those maps are tiny. Worst of the web.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:28 PM on November 12, 2007

Perhaps *the* book on bias in mapmaking, for anyone interested who hasn't seen it, is Denis Wood's The Power Of Maps, with chapter titles like "Maps are embedded in a history they help construct" and "The interest the map serves is masked." Disclosure: he's a friend, but it really is a great book for explaining this kind of thing.
posted by mediareport at 10:00 PM on November 12, 2007

my political agenda.
7am - eat lucky charms
8am - stick it to the man
9am - metafilter
5pm - pizza
6pm - fight the power
7pm - metatalk
11pm - sleep
posted by blue_beetle at 11:03 PM on November 12, 2007

How to Lie with Maps is also good.
posted by BinGregory at 12:08 AM on November 13, 2007

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