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Categorised to a tee

Consider today's XKCD.

For the record, I like Isaac Asimov and XML, I've been thinking about buying a pair of Vibrams for the last year, I think that the Segway looks neat (and, as a child, quite the sort of vehicle which I was led to believe would be in my future), and I've been looking for an affordable head-mounted display for the best part of a decade. And yes, my favourite map projection is Dymaxion.

(although not because of Bucky Fuller, but rather because of my youth misspent on certain games)

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I am curious as to why xkcd hates me.

I looooved today's XKCD (and knew the Dymaxion description would fit some of my friends)!

All it says about me is that I'm clever. I was muttering "globe" to myself before I scrolled down far enough to be able to see that it was even listed!

Eeeee. :D

Have you ridden a Segway? I was actually fairly impressed, although I also came away from the experience thinking that policy makers made the right decision in refusing to allow them on pavements (and thus unfortunately dooming them to obscurity).

It was the second time that day that computers came to the rescue by making the complicated technology do what the stupid humans think it should do, rather than what it would naturally do left to its own devices (the other was an electric car, which drove exactly like a conventional car).

I too thought Globe, and then "Why the hell are there so many of these?" and then I thought about the protagonist from Player of Games complaining about maps being upside down.

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So what about other projections, like healpix and mollweid, both of which we use in cosmology all the time??????

Having worked in GIS and read around the subject in far too much detail to be healthy, I don't have a favourite projection. So I suppose that probably puts me into the globe category.

Also, FWIW, having worked in SGML for another job, I don't think much of XML. Not really sure what it's doing in that list, though.

If you were writing an article where you wanted to include some maps on say the global incidence of poverty, rhematoid arthritis, budgerigars, iPads and animated conversations about maps, which projection would you include for those diagrams?

Note that if the answer is 'it depends what data I'm representing' I think there's a big risk of bias there.

What I was saying was that all projections have their flaws, so I wouldn't really be happy with any of them. In your hypothetical scenario, rather than depending on the data, I think it would depend more on the audience. If they were unfamiliar with the issues around projections, that would be problematic, to the extent that I might not want to use maps at all. For a more sophisticated audience, perhaps various different projections and copious footnotes. Or more ideally, an interactive GIS system where they choose their own projection(s), with appropriate caveats issued. That's barely scratching the surface of the issue though.

I think the Wikipedia on Gall-Peters explains a lot here.

As a small child, I had a small, low-quality globe of which I was very fond. It makes clear, unlike all of these projections, that one entire hemisphere is 99% covered in water; it has no projection issues*. Obviously you combine with atlases, but the requirement for a 'world map' you can hang on the wall has never been completely compelling to me.

However, we need a projection that can be used for social diagrams and charts to illustrate a wide variety of issues. For that I think the arguments for equal area are very strong because of the emotional distortion issues of Euro-centric projections. Of this set, Hobo-Dyer probably has the edge for this purpose. I would only use the South-at-the-top version if I was absolutely determined to make a point.

In that way of parents, I bought my kids an expensive toy globe, which has languished unloved ever since.

Finally, I remember a party, sometime in the late 80s, at a house with a Peters map on the wall. An animated discussion broke out about the variety of mathematical approaches to projection and the inherent difficulties and compromises. The host meandered over. "That map was supposed to be a conversation piece," he remarked. "But this is not the conversation it was supposed to start...".

*except it is significantly miniaturised...

Edited at 2011-11-15 10:25 am (UTC)

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