Have you ever looked at a map of the world and thought, “That doesn’t look quite right…”

Well, you would be right to think that. Today, we introduce a topic we have all interacted with in one way or another, but have probably thought very little about.

Maps are actually pretty fascinating. They can range from works of art to utilitarian tools, storytelling agents to lifesaving documents. However they choose to render the globe in two dimensions, cartographers inevitably find themselves confronted with a major problem:

It’s impossible to accurately represent our spherical earth on a flat piece of paper.

Now, this may seem trivial, but after you take a look at this great video from Vox, you may be thinking a little differently the next time you are confronted with a map of our planet. Not only is this video fantastic, but Vox is too! Take a moment to poke around their content when you have the chance – you won’t regret it.

Via: Vox 1
We’ve paired this video with thought-provoking discussion questions perfect for the classroom in this touchstone on our education platform, EWCed!

Shift your perspectives…

From how we choose to represent the sizes and shapes of countries, to what we choose to make a focal point, maps are, in many ways, a means of framing a particular perspective on the world.

I remember the first time I saw a map of the world with the Pacific Ocean at its center. Maybe I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but at the time I was in my late teens, and it had never even occurred to me that a map could be drawn that way. I stared at it, perplexed. Suddenly the proximity of California to Japan and the vastness of the Pacific with all of its tiny islands were there, right in front of me. Europe and Nort America were no longer obvious neighbors.

Seeing the world like this was a strange shift in perspective. I was forced to confront my biases and worldviews head on, with my home relegated to the fringes of the map. Isn’t it strange how dramatic a perspective shift like that can be?

I tell this story because I think it speaks to something important about biases we forget to acknowledge: our biggest biases are the hardest to recognize.

Maybe thinking about how the earth is represented in two dimensions goes beyond a fun bit of trivia. It is a wonderful example of how perspective can change everything and an important reminder to confront our most ingrained biases every now and again.

Like a good mind massage about the shape of the Earth? Try this one about its timeline!

6 minutes

Laying Out Earth’s History on a Football Field

How much do you really know about this planet's history? How long have we been here? How does that compare Earth's entire history? With the help of a football field, let's gain a little perspective on these questions.

Read More

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  1. “Why All World Maps Are Wrong.” YouTube. Vox, 02 Dec. 2016. Web. 09 Dec. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIID5FDi2JQ>.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

CEO of Ever Widening Circles, Founder of EWCed

Since 2015, Liesl has been a writer, editor, and is now the CEO at Ever Widening Circles. She is a life-long camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often root-tripping—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV