The intention of this activity is to give you a sense and opinion of how the world has been visually depicted and how this representation is actually an altered form of reality.
- Students will learn about cartography and map projections.
- Students will compare map projections, specifically the merits and limits of 3 common map projections.
- Students will consider how maps represent information, and what data and metadata are needed to create maps.
The Mercator map is the most popular map projection; it is used by Google, Wikipedia, the UN, and in many other popular depictions of the world. However, the Mercator map distorts perception of the size of continents, departing from their actual land-mass size, and rendering North America and Greenland as larger than Africa, for example.
What does this do to our ability to frame and understand importance, dominance, and geopolitical relationships, specifically in light of the historical power configurations among developing countries (mostly minimized, marginalized, in the Mercator projection)?
Use these 2 resources to help you think about the differences between the Mercator projection, Gall-Peters Projection, and the Dymaxion Projection:
Write-Up Answers to the Following Questions (turn into D2L):
- What differences in perspective are shown between the Mercator Projection, Gall-Peters Projection, and the Dymaxion Projection?
- Examine this map titled “Ancient Near East” and the description below the map.
- Based on the information above and the 2 linked resources, make an informed guess about which projection do you think this map is using, and why you think it’s that projection.
- What information does this map display?
- What does this map do well, what are its strengths as a representation of spatial information?
- What are the map’s limits as a representation of spatial information?
- Think back to this week’s assigned readings. What should cartographers consider when making maps to represent historical places and information thousands of years old? What are the pros/cons of using a modern projection for ancient history?
Assignment credits: Activity 4.6 in Chapter 4: Critical Approaches to Digital Literacy by Maha Bali and Cheryl Brown.