Monday, March 31, 2014


"It's impossible to have a truly objective map" says the interviewer in a story posted at  He's talking to Michael Blanding (author of the forthcoming The Map Thief), who goes on to explain the Borges story about the 1:1 map that covers the whole world.  Shrinking things to manageable size necessitates selection and generalisation, not to mention the production of cartography textbooks and manuals.  This, in a story about the cartographic battle for Crimea.

Crimea has been annexed by Russia, but it is not official until state departments, cartographers, and commercial mapmakers make maps reflecting the geopolitical shift.  Rand McNally and National Geographic have both been pulled into the battle for cartographic representation, but they are hedging their bets, waiting on the outcome of various diplomatic dealings and official statements as John Kerry and others do their work.

Google and Wikipedia are both mentioned.  Google, which is free but not open-source, has been badgered to make changes to its maps and it has so far resisted anything overtly political.  Wikipedia allows changes by users and a battle has ensued with edits and counter-edits being made to their map of Russia.

Listen to the audio here:
Crimea: Crisis of Cartographic Proportions

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