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The Mercator Problem

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about maps lately. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about how easily they can deceive us. Take the Mercator map projection, for instance.


When most of us think about the world, we think of this type of map. It was first created by the Flemish cartographer and geographer, Gerardus Mercator, in 1569, and has been the most popular type of map ever since. There are some great things about this map, but there are also some major problems, particularly when it comes to judging the size of various land masses. I wanted to explore this idea a little further comparing the size of some well-known land masses on the Mercator map and in reality. So, I created a data visualization. Below is a screenshot, but the full visualization is interactive, so I encourage you to check it out. You can click on this link or simply click on screenshot to see the full viz.



Ken Flerlage, June 1, 2017

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