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Web App Reveals How Misleading Maps Really Are

If you grew up thinking Greenland was bigger than India, or that Alaska was the size of Brazil, you probably learned geography from a Mercator map. Originally created in the 16th century for sailors, the immensely popular Mercator map eventually made its way into 20th century elementary schools, where, for decades, it left all of us confused about the relative sizes of countries around the world.

Fortunately, if you’re still befuddled by the sizes of our planet’s land masses, there’s now a simple way to rectify that. WIRED reports that a new web app called The True Size Of, created by James Talmage and Damon Maneice, makes it easy to see how big different countries are and lets you compare them to their distorted representation on the Mercator projection.

The app, which was inspired by an episode of The West Wing, lets users drag the outline of any nation around on the Mercator map to see how it really compares to other countries. For instance, as you drag Greenland south on the map, its outline begins to shrink, while dragging countries closer to the equator far into the northern or southern hemisphere makes them grow.

“Every map projection introduces distortion, and each has its own set of problems,” Talmage and Maneice explain on their website, “We hope teachers will use [The True Size Of] to show their students just how big the world actually is.”

[h/t WIRED]

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Clever GIFs Show Subway Maps Compared to Their Actual Geography
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Original Berlin Underground map.

Clarity, user-friendliness, and visual appeal are all considered when designers map out the metro systems of the world’s cities. Geographic accuracy is one factor that’s often left by the wayside. In a break from these norms, the Berlin-based web designers at Sansho Studio created a GIF that pairs the official map of Berlin’s Underground with its real-world depiction.

The animation uses data pulled from Google Maps, Wikipedia, and Berlin’s public transit system. As you can see in the GIF above, the transformation from one image to the next is dramatic. The first map shows the lines of Berlin’s underground as parts of an orderly, integrated system with a few graceful bends here and there. The geographic counterpart displays a map of sprawling scribbles more reminiscent of veiny waterways than the subway routes commuters know best.

Reddit user vinnivinnivinni of Sansho Studio posted their work on the subreddit Data is Beautiful, where it received more than 66,000 upvotes. It also inspired Reddit users to create similar GIFs for metro systems around the world. Below you can see some of the most impressive designs.

Animation of Barcelona subway map.
J.Robb Digital

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Textio
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Afternoon Map
The Most Overused Business Jargon in Each State
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Textio

The business world loves some jargon. Corporate leaders are always touting near-meaningless words like “synergy” and used-to-death office phrases like “let’s touch base” (what base?). Job listings start to blur together when every company you apply to work for is looking for “a badass.”

Textio is an AI-driven service that analyzes job postings and identifies the phrases and patterns that lead to the most responses from qualified applications and the quickest hires. The company recently combed through its database of 250 million corporate job postings to find the most common business jargon clichés in each state, revealing how the group-think of corporate hiring can vary from state to state.

In Oregon, it seems, candidates need to be ready for some “revolutioneering,” while California employers ask potential hires to “tee up.” Oklahoma companies claim to be on the “bleeding edge,” and New Yorkers better get ready to “herd cats.” (Not exactly a full-throated endorsement for the state’s workforce.) Not to be left out for lack of statehood, Washington D.C. companies are looking to “shift the paradigm.”

In its editing services, Textio highlights this kind of unspecific, clichéd language as “red flags” for companies looking to attract highly qualified job seekers with their postings—and it’s right to. Jargon is devoid of meaning, and using it turns people off. No one applies for a job looking to “achieve alignment,” and no one needs to be told that their future company is looking for someone to “increase productivity.” What is getting aligned? What kind of productivity? What job wouldn’t involve “corporate values” in some way?

It’s great that Textio brought this to the table, leveraging its expertise in the field. Hopefully reading this will be a change-driver. Maybe it will help your company with its message alignment, or help you craft a really great statement of duties. Go ahead, blaze a trail with that job posting. Go the extra mile. That’s where the magic truly happens, after all. Let’s touch base later. It’s just good practice. Just make sure to have an exit strategy.

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