The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

The view from right here
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James Fallows follows up on nine Chinas with a bunch of fun refractions of China’s mass based on perceptions from particular vantage points. You’ve seen maps like this before. Here’s China from the POV of Shanghai:

20091201_ShanghaiMap

It’s just like that great old New Yorker cover with the view of America from 9th Avenue—

20091201_newyorker_america

—which I love because the rendering does all the work; no labels required. The American interior as maize rectangle. Doh. Perfect.

These maps only work if they’re drawn from some specific perspective, with some particular allegiance made clear. This annotated map of San Francisco, for instance, is not funny—because it hates everything! (Except maybe the “Forests of Mystery”?) Now, a hipster’s map of San Francisco, or San Francisco through the eyes of a visiting Chicagoan—those could be good.

Likewise, Maira Kalman’s classic map of New Yorkistan doesn’t fit the genre; it, at least, manages to be super-funny, but it still doesn’t really let you know who is drawing the map. (Am I being too picky?)

Any more like this out there that you’ve seen?

4 comments

vanderleun says…

“The Amer i can inte rior as maize rec tan gle. Doh. Perfect.”

Not really because….. oh why bother?

(Sorry if the sarcasm didn’t come across—I meant the opposite. The America interior is, in fact, NOT a maize rectangle.)

I don’t think you’re being too picky — the issue you’re raising is about point of view and actually having one, regardless of how that’s defined in a media object (and here I’m thinking not literal pov as much as conceptual). Often it’s culturally implied so strongly that we “know” whose perspective the thing is presented from without having to think about it.

But it’s still vital in the sense that it’s one thing that helps us differentiate better and worse instances of art and/or communication. I’d argue that “Newyorkistan” is presented to us from the pov of “The New Yorker,” whatever that means to their readers, which I’d assume the editorial staff has a general conception of (regardless of whether that conception is accurate).

I still like this one — http://xkcd.com/256/ — and given the general perspective of xkcd’s other strips, for me it offers a fairly strong pov of some “one” who likes to opine about computer-related matters, is sometimes a little grandiose and full of her/himself, but is also often insightful precisely because of those broad strokes.

Ooh yeah! Classic.

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