View Full Version : 'How Maps Change Things' Free Ebook on maps - available only until the end of march

03-27-2012, 05:37 AM
You can get it here:


Found on Cartotalk.

I should add that the one review by daan Strebe of the ebook on Cartotalk has been blisteringly unfavourable:

I have read the book. Presumably some people will find it eye-opening. I worry that many people will find it eye-closing.

Like all defenses of the Gall–Peters projection, the book obsesses over size disparities in maps as a proxy for cultural inequality. Never mind that the few studies on the topic show no such cognitive bias. Never mind that no one thinks the Greenland natives are at some pinnacle of human power and prestige by virtue of their apparently gigantic landholdings on the Mercator. Never mind that the Peters map strongly favors the mid latitudes—including Peters’s native Germany—while grossly distorting the very territories the Peters sympathizers claim they have rehabilitated.


I don’t think many cartographers are in danger of getting sucked into the reality distortion field of the book. Sadly, plenty of well-meaning lay people will, directing yet more energy into vapid, quasi-religious crusades which could otherwise go toward helping some actual need. Yes, the world needs more equality. No, the Peters map is no way to get there. This book breaks no new ground. If the author were truly interested in getting people to understand maps, he would advocate a diversity of projections and orientations rather than devoting the bulk of the book to Peters adulation.

For the full quote and thread go here (http://www.cartotalk.com/index.php?showtopic=8016) (you may have to register).

03-27-2012, 09:10 PM
Huh. And I had thought that the Gall-Peters was just as reviled for distortion as the Mercator. I'll probably pick up the book on principle though. Thanks for posting :)

03-29-2012, 06:58 PM
Huh. And I had thought that the Gall-Peters was just as reviled for distortion as the Mercator. I'll probably pick up the book on principle though. Thanks for posting :)

Mercator is a perfectly reasonable projection for accomplishing its particular goals. The only problem with it was that it was used by people who are not trained cartographers/geographers in situations to which is wasn't as well suited. Gall-Peters on the other hand is reviled by cartographers. It's far inferior to non-cylindrical projections as an equal area representation of a full globe, and far inferior to hybrid projections as a full globe projection for general reference maps.

Peters was not a Cartographer, Geographer, Mathemetician, or Geodeticist, he was a Cinematographer. He figured out enough to come up with a bland and unimaginative projection (Simply a configuration of Cylindrical Equal Area) that Gall had come up with a century earlier. He just got more traction with the public than anyone who had pulled this sort of thing before. He made ridiculous claims about the projection, and about the harm of using non-equal area maps. (Does anyone really think Greenland is as important as Africa simply because they look the same size in Mercator?)

If a real cartographer is making a global map, they will generally use something like Mollweide or Hammer if they really need it to be equal area, like for maps involving population densities. If it's a general map, they will use a hybrid projection like Robinson or Winkel Tripel. And if they need some specialized property like Conformality, they'll use an appropriate projection like Stereographic or Mercator.