CLOSE
istock
istock

How Google Maps' Borders Differ From Country To Country

istock
istock

Most of us likely see maps as something uncontroversial and relatively permanent—a simple tool for getting from point A to point B. But in regions engaged in border disputes, maps can become a lot more contentious. In the past, individual cartographers could avoid controversy by simply drawing maps that reflected their country’s worldview. But what happens in the Internet era, when the whole world is using Google Maps?

As it turns out, Google Maps has a pretty fascinating policy for “solving” border disputes. Popular Science reports that when a border is disputed by two or more territories, Google Maps simply changes its borders in each country to reflect that country’s beliefs. Those in countries not affected by the border dispute see two dotted borders. On the other hand, citizens in the countries in disagreement see a solid line, one that represents their country’s view of the land dispute (see more of Google’s shifting borders here).  

This method of customizing borders based on each individual country’s view of a geopolitical situation was the subject of a recent study, published in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. Researchers worry that Google’s seemingly impartial border-drawing policy could inadvertently fuel border disputes.

“While Google’s cartographic platforms, Google Maps and Google Earth, are the most widely used mapping services in the world, their methodology for affixing borders and naming key features is completely unregulated and deviates from traditional mapping doctrine,” researcher Ethan R. Merel explains. “Google customizes its maps to adhere to each individual country’s beliefs and laws, so that its maps do not show a single and objective reality, but rather affirm existing perspectives of the world.”

Merel hopes to find a better way for Google Maps to display borders, and is advocating for increased oversight and regulation with regards to Google’s mapping policies. But for now, though we might all be using the same map app, we’re all seeing slightly different versions of the world. 

[h/t Popular Science]

arrow
Afternoon Map
The Richest Person of All Time From Each State


Looking for inspiration in your quest to become a billionaire? This map from cost information website HowMuch.net, spotted by Digg, highlights the richest person in history who hails from each of the 50 states.

More billionaires live in the U.S. than in any other country, but not every state has produced a member of the Three Comma Club (seven states can only lay claim to millionaires). The map spans U.S. history, with numbers adjusted for inflation. One key finding: The group is overwhelmingly male, with only three women represented.

The richest American by far was John D. Rockefeller, repping New York with $257.25 billion to his name. Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Microsoft's Bill Gates clock in at the third and fifth richest, respectively. While today they both make their homes in the exclusive waterfront city of Medina, Washington, this map is all about birthplace. Since Gates, who is worth $90.54 billion, was born in Seattle, he wins top billing in the Evergreen State, while Albuquerque-born Bezos's $116.57 billion fortune puts New Mexico on the map.

The richest woman is South Carolina's Anita Zucker ($3.83 billion), the CEO of InterTech Group, a private, family-owned chemicals manufacturer based in Charleston. Clocking in at number 50 is the late, great socialite Brooke Astor—who, though a legend of the New York City social scene, was a native of New Hampshire—with $150 million.

[h/t Digg]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Afternoon Map
8 City Maps Rendered in the Styles of Famous Artists
iStock
iStock

Vincent van Gogh once famously said, "I dream my painting and I paint my dream." If at some point in his career he had dreamed up a map of Amsterdam, where he lived and derived much of his inspiration from, it may have looked something like the one below.

In a blog post from March, Credit Card Compare selected eight cities around the world and illustrated what their maps might look like if they had been created by the famous artists who have roots there.

The Andy Warhol-inspired map of New York City, for instance, is awash with primary colors, and the icons representing notable landmarks are rendered in his famous Pop Art style. Although Warhol grew up in Pittsburgh, he spent much of his career working in the Big Apple at his studio, dubbed "The Factory."

Another iconic and irreverent artist, Banksy, is the inspiration behind London's map. Considering that the public doesn't know Banksy's true identity, he remains something of an enigma. His street art, however, is recognizable around the world and commands exorbitant prices at auction. In an ode to urban art, clouds of spray paint and icons that are a bit rough around the edges adorn this map of England's capital.

For more art-inspired city maps, scroll through the photos below.

[h/t Credit Card Compare]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios