A Twisted World

When I was fourteen I got this book about Life after Man. It's about how 50 million years after humanity goes, life has evolved into all kinds of new wonderful forms. But what really got my interest were the maps. The continents had moved. So I tried to write a program to simulate the movement of continents. What I quickly realized, is that it can't be done. Not on a mercator projection.

The mercator projection is one of many attempts to get a globe on a map and a rather bad one when it comes to representing the actual size of continents. Africa seems just a tat bigger than Greenland, Spitsbergen seems about the size of Indonesia. You have to wonder whether on some level we think less of Africa because it seems smaller (or for that matter we think less of continents on the lower half).

Last summer we decided to replace our tile based mapping system with a vector based one. But for compatibility reasons we still are sticking with Mercator. The vector maps are great for our travel guides, but they also gave us the tools to show the world in Mercator projection with Europe and North America in the middle. It looks something like this:

Greenland in the middle - looks a lot smaller than Africa now

So during our recent Jamboree in Marrakech in this strange, exciting environment Vincent and me set out to create an interactive tool to make it possible to explore the universe of Mercator projected maps. As weird as they are, they're all equally correct in representing our planet as a bitmap. It took quite a bit of beer and math (we had to divide the work, Vincent doesn't drink), but here it is, powered by processing.js.

Some examples of the twisted maps you can make with our interactive tool:

Asia as the south pole

An ozzie centric world

Africa on the North Pole
I guess you are curious to try out to see if you can create even weirder looking maps. So go and check our labs section and see our twisted maps. 


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