No such thing as an objective map

From Think Africa Press, “Terrabyte Incognita: Africa Might Not Look Like You Think It Does.” By James Wan, 28 March 2014.

Much of this article reviews some well-known criticisms of 2 dimensional mapping of the 3 dimensional globe and the history of African map-making. However, the last section is fresh and I particularly like the way the author makes this point:

We can imagine that if all of Google‘s data and programming ability was suddenly in the hands of a Namibian agriculturalist, a Sahelian nomad or a Senegalese fisherwoman, the maps they would conjure up would be completely different. They might well prioritise soil types over Starbucks, wells over Walmarts and the state of land degradation over panoramic streetviews of American towns. But we can only imagine. As was the case a century ago, it is still just a small group of Western individuals with specific ideas of the world that have the resources to map the world.

Think Africa Press is part of the Guardian Africa network. Article republished by theguardian.com, Wednesday 2 April 2014 04.43 EDT.

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