RE: mapping the planet

[Image: The world mapped according to number of aircraft passengers].

New Scientist calls our attention to the wonderful world of warped cartography, courtesy of Worldmapper, based at the University of Sheffield, UK. Created by Danny Dorling and Anna Barford, Worldmapper's maps transform traditional cartographic projections using unexpected statistical guidelines: the world according to machine exports, car imports, working tractors, dairy exports, aircraft departures, children in the workforce, population in 2300 AD – etc. etc. Worldmapper's goal is to release 365 different maps throughout the upcoming year.
Some particularly eye-popping examples appear here...

[Image: The world mapped according to number of container ports (!)].

[Image: The world mapped according to refugee origin].

[Image: The world mapped according to net immigration – apparently no one's moving to India].

[Image: The world mapped according to expected human population in 2300 AD – look at Australia].

[Image: This is the world mapped according to toy exports and toy imports, respectively].

More – and more and more – of these maps can be found at Worldmapper. While you're at it, check out these beautifully executed globes by Ingo Günther's World Processor...

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

am racking my brain trying to remember where i recently saw similar maps warped by the time cost of travel. any ideas???


May 10, 2006 9:31 AM  
Anonymous q said...

i like the fact that the land area map in their website shows the world as it truly is. I have always wondered why conventional maps are skewed to make the northern countries seem larger than their southern neighbors.

May 10, 2006 1:42 PM  
Blogger John Althouse Cohen said...

[Image: The world mapped according to expected human population in 2300 AD – look at Australia].

But Australia is tiny in the map of the current population too, so is that really so significant?

May 11, 2006 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Roger Sweeny said...


As you get away from the equator, the earth gets smaller. If you want to make a rectangular map, you have to start stretching everything east to west. Then in order to keep the shapes (in technical terms, to make it "conformal"), you also have to stretch things north-south.

So things far away from the equator, like Greenland, get mad large. Unfortunately, there is no way to make a map projection that is both "conformal" and "equal area."

Try flattening the peel of an orange some time :)

May 11, 2006 5:49 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

John - Agreed, but Australia actually appears even smaller to me in the 2300 map - but, either way, it's totally stunning to see that country's fate in relation to what happens to India and China, for instance, which swell like balloons. That is a very mundane observation, of course, but it's interesting to see it depicted in so clear a way.

Then there's Russia, of course, where Putin is now offering cash bonuses to couples who have kids to reverse his country's dwindling population. Future novel plot: Russia is all but depopulated. Huge tracts of eastern Siberia are sold to a private American firm. At first, only a few thousand Americans begin moving there. Then more and more. Small utopias form. New Kansas or some such. Hijinks ensue... Angry natives...

Anyway: Roger and q, there are different projections of the world available that give equal graphic space to each squared longitudinal/latitudinal area, resulting in a totally different depiction of land mass. Also, many world maps lop off part of Antarctica and give far more paper-space to the northern hemisphere, which is clearly an editorial decision. I had a link once to a fascinating map site, with all kinds of weird projections, but now I can't find the link. If you know what I'm talking about, let me know! Thanks -

Oh, and anonymous, Paul Virilio has some maps where travel time is prioritized over geographical distance. I think he calls them chronographs? Or chronotopographs? So London and Paris, for instance, are practically right next to each other, but rural France is miles away. I'll look for them later -

May 11, 2006 6:26 PM  
Anonymous Nicolai said...

Somehow, "utterly fascinating" and "insanely cool" don't begin to cover it...

May 12, 2006 12:17 AM  
Anonymous steve said...

The greatest thing about all this is that any map projection now seems totally arbitrary - even using land mass and geography. Why is land mass better than any other? I've looked at maps all my life based on physical geography, but we might as well raise kids on maps of population, or maps of mobile phone use or maps of World Cup championships.

Fantastic find.

May 12, 2006 12:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


May 12, 2006 1:14 AM  
Anonymous steak is the new veal said...

City of Sound featured the distorted maps of Europe in January.


May 12, 2006 2:27 PM  
Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

Very nice. Self-absorbed Americans may be interested in these of the U.S. showing party affiliation, population, etc.

May 12, 2006 4:51 PM  

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