Maps As Stories

World Map of USSR (1928)world_map_from_the_atlas_of_the_ussr_published_in_1928

This map was developed in 1928 by a Russian Cartographer for an atlas used in the U.S.S.R. It has the same distortions as the Mercator map such as the countries and continents in the north looking much bigger than countries and continents in the south. However, unlike most maps we are familiar with seeing in a classroom where the U.S.A. is in the center, this map centers the U.S.S.R. The message that this map is sending is the importance and dominance of the U.S.S.R. in comparison to the rest of the world. The size distortions of landmass in the north makes the U.S.S.R. look huge in comparison to other landmasses, which plays on our psychological thinking that big=powerful=important. The U.S.S.R. being centered on the map also conveys an idea of importance. As consequence of size distortions of the northern landmasses, this map marginalizes Africa and South America by making them look much smaller than their actual size. The psychological thinking at play here would be small=weak=not important. This map is obviously trying to sell the U.S.S.R. as #1 world power and advance its interest.

As for the maps Mercator, Gall, Molleweide, Peters, and Miller, there is no such thing as more “accurate map,” unless we determine what we are measuring. If we are measuring true direction, than Mercator would be a more accurate map then the Gall projection. However, if we are measuring true land area representation, then the Gall projection would be more accurate than the Mercator. Every 2-d map comes with distortions. In a classroom, I think it is more important to represent the true land area over direction, so I would pick the Gall projection to display in my classroom.

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