Judgmental Maps

One of the first “grown-up” things I remember learning as a teenager is that maps are never unbiased, that they always represent the predilections of their cartographers—or their cartographers’ sponsors. You can’t create a flat map without distorting proportions and thereby misrepresenting the relative sizes of continents and countries, for instance, and even globes imply an “up” and “down” that is more a reflection of politics than physics. This clip from “The West Wing”—which is typically didactic but nevertheless amusing—runs through some of the inherent problems in the Mercator projection map that we’re all familiar with.

All of which, aside from making me sound smart, is meant as a setup for Judgmental Maps a collection of crowdsourced charts of American cities that have been marked up with frank labeling as to who lives where and what can be found there. Many readers of this blog will be especially interested in the entries for New York City and San Francisco:

Judgmental Map of New York City
Judgmental Map of San Francisco

I found the interpretation of Baltimore pretty hilarious, too, especially the way it reflects how most white collar people living outside that city have come to think about what can be found there:

Judgmental Map of Baltimore

More at Judgmentalmaps.com.