Maps: The Geographer's Favourite Tool (4th lecture)

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Published on 12 Oct 2011
School
McMaster University
Department
Geography
Course
GEOG 1HB3
Geography Lecture September 26th, 2011
Maps: The Geographer’s Favorite Tool
Maps are two-dimensional graphical (visual) representations of the world and
they depict spatial relationships. We use them to interpret and reveal spatial
relationships, patterns, etc.
Maps communicate information. Information that has spatial meaning, I,e,
locations of cities, towns, boundaries of countries and your property line.
Maps: analysis of spatial information. – A geographer’s job is to analyze
spatial information.
Maps: ‘socially constructed’ – They reveal the information that the map
maker (cartographer) has chosen to reveal to you. You can tell any kind of
story you want, through a map (just like statistics.)
You must read maps with a critical eye – What is the actual message of this
map? What message is the cartographer trying to make you believe? Do
you agree or disagree with them?
Viewing the World Through Maps: Perspectives
Maps help us to look at the world from different perspectives.
Example #1: Atlantic centered maps – one of the most common
versions of a world map. The Atlantic Ocean is centered, making North
America look very big and important.
Example #2: Pacific centered maps – the Pacific Ocean is centered,
making North America look more isolated and remote.
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Geography Lecture September 26th, 2011
Depending on which ocean is in the middle, it changes what you think is
important and the layout of things.
Example #3: “Antipocentric.” – An upside down map. It is upside
down, only in the sense that we typically put North at the top of a map.
This is arbitrary, as there is no real reason why we put North at the top.
The earth doesn’t have a top and a bottom, it just floats in space. We
often put North at the top of a map because it is a social convention.
Antipocentric maps are often used in Australia.
Making World Maps: The Challenge of Projections
How do you portray a 3 dimensional sphere in only 2 dimensions?
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Geography Lecture September 26th, 2011
This portrayal doesn’t show what is happening on the other side of the world.
A good way to think of it is - think of the earth as the peel of an orange. The earth is an orange peel and you peel it.
Unwrapping of the surface of the earth works quite well in some ways, but what happens in the gap areas is uncertain.
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Document Summary

Maps are two-dimensional graphical (visual) representations of the world and they depict spatial relationships. We use them to interpret and reveal spatial relationships, patterns, etc. Information that has spatial meaning, i,e, locations of cities, towns, boundaries of countries and your property line. A geographer"s job is to analyze spatial information. Maps: socially constructed" they reveal the information that the map maker (cartographer) has chosen to reveal to you. You can tell any kind of story you want, through a map (just like statistics. ) Maps help us to look at the world from different perspectives: example #1: atlantic centered maps one of the most common versions of a world map. America look very big and important: example #2: pacific centered maps the pacific ocean is centered, making north america look more isolated and remote. Depending on which ocean is in the middle, it changes what you think is important and the layout of things: example #3: antipocentric. an upside down map.