A Map of George Orwell’s 1984

Many fictional locations resist mapping. Our imaginations may thrill, but our mental geolocation software recoils at the impossibilities in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities—a series of geographically whimsical tales told by Marco Polo to Genghis Khan; or China Miéville’s The City and the City, in which two metropolises—Besźel and Ul Qoma—occupy much of the same physical space, and a secretive police power compels citizens to willfully “unsee” one city or the other.

That’s not to say such maps cannot be made. Calvino’s strange cities have been illustrated, if not at street level, in as fanciful a fashion as the narrator describes them. Miéville’s weird cities have received several literal-minded mapping treatments, which perhaps mistake the novel’s careful construction of metaphor for a kind of creative urban planning.




Miéville himself might disavow such attempts, as he disavows one-to-one allegorical readings of his fantastic detective novel—those, for example, that reduce the phenomenon of “unseeing” to an Orwellian means of thought control. “Orwell is a much more overtly allegorical writer,” he tells Theresa DeLucci at Tor, “although it’s always sort of unstable, there’s a certain kind of mapping whereby x means y, a means b.”

Orwell’s speculative worlds are easily decoded, in other words, an opinion shared by many readers of Orwell. But Miéville’s comments aside, there’s an argument to be made that The City and the City’s “unseeing” is the most vividly Orwellian device in recent fiction. And that the fictional world of 1984 does not, perhaps, yield to such simple mapping as we imagine.

Of course it's easy to draw a map (see above, or in a larger format here) of the three imperial powers the novel tells us rule the world. Frank Jacobs at Big Think tidily sums them up:

Oceania covers the entire continents of America and Oceania and the British Isles, the main location for the novel, in which they are referred to as ‘Airstrip One’.
Eurasia covers Europe and (more or less) the entire Soviet Union.
Eastasia covers Japan, Korea, China and northern India.

These three superstates are perpetually at war with each other, though who's at war with whom is unclear. “And yet... the war might just not even be real at all”—for all we know it might be a fabrication of the Ministry of Truth, to manufacture consent for austerity, mass surveillance, forced nationalism, etc. It’s also possible that the entirety of the novel’s geo-politics have been invented out of whole cloth, that “Airstrip One is not an outpost of a greater empire," Jacobs writes, "but the sole territory under the command of Ingsoc.”

One commenter on the map—which was posted to Reddit last year—points out that “there isn’t any evidence in the book that this is actually how the world is structured.” We must look at the map as doubly fictional, an illustration, Lauren Davis notes at io9, of “how the credulous inhabitant of Airstrip One, armed with only maps distributed by the Ministry of Truth, might view the world, how vast the realm of Oceania seems and how close the supposed enemies in Eurasia.” It is the world as the minds of the novel's characters conceive it.

All maps, we know, are distortions, shaped by ideology, belief, perspectival bias. 1984’s limited third-person narration enacts the limited views of citizens in a totalitarian state. Such a state necessarily uses force to prevent the people from independently verifying constantly shifting, contradictory pieces of information. But the novel itself states that force is largely irrelevant. “The patrols did not matter… Only the Thought Police mattered.”

In Orwell's fiction "similar outcomes" as those in totalitarian states, as Noam Chomsky remarks, "can be achieved in free societies like England" through education and mass media control. The most unsettling thing about the seeming simplicity of 1984’s map of the world is that it might look like almost anything else for all the average person knows. Its elementary-school rudiments metaphorically point to frighteningly vast areas of ignorance, and possibilities we can only imagine, since Winston Smith and his compatriots no longer have the ability, even if they had the means.

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A Map Shows What Every Country in the World Calls Itself in its Own Language: Explore the “Endonyms of the World” Map

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

A Map Shows What Every Country in the World Calls Itself in its Own Language: Explore the “Endonyms of the World” Map

I live in South Korea, but the South Koreans don't call it South Korea. The country has its own language, of course, and that language has its own name for the country, daehan minguk (대한 민국), or more commonly hanguk (한국) — not that it stops the global branding-friendly letter K, which has made its way from "K-pop" to "K-beauty" to even (albeit much less successfully) things like "K-food." As far as our much-reported-on northern neighbor, South Koreans call it bukhan (북한), but its inhabitants call their land joseon minjujueui inmin gonghwaguk (조선민주주의인민공화국). And as with Korea South and North, so with every country in the world: each one has an endonym.

"An endonym is the name for a place, site or location in the language of the people who live there. These names may be officially designated by the local government or they may simply be widely used." So says the front page of the Endonym Map, which labels every country (or disputed territory) in the world with its endonym, written in the language's own script.




When you first learned the names of foreign countries, you actually learned their exonyms, their names in a foreign language: yours. "South Korea" and "North Korea" are exonyms, as are names like "Japan," "Finland," "Turkey," and "France." Nihon-koku (日本国), Suomen tasavaltaTürkiye Cumhuriyeti, and la République française all appear on the Endonym Map, as do many other well-known countries you might at first glance assume you've never heard of. 

The map's creator notes that "the most common official or national language in the world is English, with 86 countries or territories," which represents "one-third the number of total countries and approximately 30% of the planet's land area." Because of that, people all over the world do tend to know the English exonym for their own country, but that's hardly an excuse not to learn its real name should you decide to pay them a visit. And that counts as the first step toward actually learning its language, a journey that the Foreign Service Institute's language-learning map we featured last year can help you plan. Hwaiting, as we say here in the Koreanized English — or Englishized Korean? — of hanguk.

You can view the Endonym Map in a larger, zoomable format here.

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1934 Map Resizes the World to Show Which Country Drinks the Most Tea

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The “True Size” Maps Shows You the Real Size of Every Country (and Will Change Your Mental Picture of the World)

We all understand, on some level, that as adults we must go back and correct the oversimplifications we learned as schoolchildren. But for a sense of how large the scale of those quasi-truths, you must imagine the whole world: that is, you must imagine how you imagine the whole world, a mental picture probably taken straight from the map hung on the classroom wall. And the lines of that map came straight, in a sense, from the work of 16th-century cartographer Gerardus Mercator.

Though Mercator's world-mapping method came as a revolution, it has also given generation after generation after generation very much the wrong idea about how big the world's countries actually are. Mercator Projection, as Citymetric describes it, "re-imagines the earth as the surface of a cylinder.




When laid out flat, it’s pleasingly rectangular, and its eastern and western edges line up neatly." But while "in reality, lines of longitude converge at the poles; on the map, they're parallel. As a result, the closer you get to the poles, the more distorted the map becomes, and the bigger things look relative to their actual size."

Hence the need for such re-imaginings of the world map as The True Size, "a website that lets you compare the size of any nation or US state to other land masses, by allowing you to move them around to anywhere else on the map." Just search for any country in the box in the map's upper-left corner, and that country's borders will appear highlighted in color. When you click and drag those borders to another part of the world, specifically a part of the world at a different latitude, you'll notice that the shape of the dragged country seems to deform.

But that appearance of distortion is only relative to the shapes and sizes we've long internalized from the Mercator map: when you move Australia up and it covers a third of Russia, or when you move the vast-looking Greenland down and it doesn't even cover Argentina, you're looking — perhaps for the first time — at a geographically accurate size comparison. Does that (to quote the humorless representative of the Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality in the West Wing episode cited as one inspiration for the True Size Map) blow your mind?

Explore the True Size Map here.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Google Street View Lets You Walk in Jane Goodall’s Footsteps and Visit the Chimpanzees of Tanzania

As mentioned here last month, Dr. Jane Goodall is now teaching her first online course through Masterclass. In 29 video lessons, her course will teach you about the three pillars of her lifelong work: environmental conservation, animal intelligence, and activism. But that's not the only way you can digitally engage with Jane Goodall's world. Over on Google Maps, you can take a visual journey through Gombe National Park in Tanzania, where Goodall conducted her historic chimpanzee research, starting back in July, 1960. As Google writes: this visual initiative lets you experience "what it’s like to be Jane for a day." You can "peek into her house, take a dip in Lake Tanganyika, spot the chimp named Google and try to keep up with Glitter and Gossamer." Completed in partnership with Tanzania's National Parks and the Jane Goodall Institute, this project contributes to an effort to use satellite imagery and mapping to protect 85 percent of the remaining chimpanzees in Africa. To get the most out of Street View Gombe, visit the accompanying website Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots.

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1934 Map Resizes the World to Show Which Country Drinks the Most Tea

Not a day goes by that I don’t use Google Maps for something or other, whether it’s basic navigation, researching an address, or finding a dry cleaner. Though some of us might resent the dominance such mapping technology has over our daily interactions, there’s no denying its endless utility. But maps can be so much more than useful tools for getting around—they are works of art, thought experiments, imaginative flights of fancy, and data visualization tools, to name but a few of their overlapping functions. For the imperialists of previous ages, maps displayed a mastery of the world, whether cataloguing travel times from London to everywhere else on the globe, or—as in the example we have here—resizing countries according to how much tea their people drank.

But this is not a map we should look to for accuracy. Like many such cartographic data charts, it promotes a particular agenda. “George Orwell once wrote that tea was one of the mainstays of civilization,” notes Jack Goodman at Atlas Obscura. “Tea, asserted Orwell, has the power to make one feel braver, wiser, and more optimistic. The man spoke for a nation.” (And he spoke to a nation in a 1946 Evening Standard essay, “A Nice Cup of Tea.”) From the map above, titled “The Tea is Drunk” and published by Fortune Magazine in 1934, we learn, writes Goodman, that “Britain consumed 485,000 pounds of tea per year. That’s one hundred billion cups of tea, or around six cups a day for each person.” We might note however, that “the population of China was then nine times bigger than that of the U.K., and they drank roughly twice as much tea as the Brits did.” Why isn’t China at the center of the map? “The author made a tenuous point about the cultural differences between the two: the Chinese drank tea as a necessity, the British by choice.”

Cornell University library’s description of the map is more forthright: “While China actually consumed twice as much tea as Britain, its position at the edge of the map assured that the focus will be on the British Isles.” That focus is commercial in nature, meant to encourage and inform British tea merchants for whom tea was more than a beverage; it was one of the nation's pre-eminent commodities, though most of what was sold as a national product was Indian tea grown in India. Yet the map brims with pride in the British tea trade. “Thus may be told the geography and allegiance of Tea,” its author proclaims, “an empire within an empire, whose borders follow everywhere the scattered territories of that nation on which the sun never sets.” A little over a decade later, India won its independence, and the empire began to fall apart. But the British never lost their taste for or their national pride in tea. View and download a high-resolution scan of the "Tea is Drunk" map at the Cornell Library site.

via Atlas Obscura

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Colorful Maps from 1914 and 2016 Show How Planes & Trains Have Made the World Smaller and Travel Times Quicker

This time of year especially, we complain about the greed and arrogance of airlines, the confusion and inefficiency of airports, and the sardine seating of coach. But we don’t have to go back very far to get a sense of just how truly painful long-distance travel used to be. Just step back a hundred years or so when—unless you were a WWI pilot—you traveled by train or by ship, where all sorts of misadventures might befall you, and where a journey that might now take several dull hours could take several dozen, often very uncomfortable, days. Before railroads crossed the continents, that number could run into the hundreds.

In the early 1840s, for example, notes Simon Willis at The Economist’s 1843 Magazine, “an American dry-goods merchant called Asa Whitney, who lived near New York, travelled to China on business. It took 153 days, which he thought was a waste of time.” It’s probably easier to swallow platitudes about destinations and journeys when the journey doesn’t take up nearly half the year and run the risk of cholera. By 1914, the explosion of railroads had reduced travel times considerably, but they remained at what we would consider intolerable lengths.




We can see just how long it took to get from place to place in the “isochronic map” above (view it in a large format here), which visualizes distances all over the globe. The railways “were well-established,” notes Gizmodo, “in Europe and the U.S., too, making travel far more swift than it had been in the past.” One could reach “the depths of Siberia” from London in under ten days, thanks to the Trans-Siberian Railway. By contrast, in Africa and South America, “any travel inland from the coast took weeks.”

The map, created by royal cartographer John G. Bartholomew, came packaged with several other such tools in An Atlas of Economic Geography, a book, Willis explains, “intended for schoolboys,” containing “everything a thrusting young entrepreneur, imperialist, trader or traveller could need.” All of the distances are measured in “days from London,” and color-coded in the legend below. Dark green areas, such as Sudan, much of Brazil, inland Australia, or Tibet might take over 40 days travel to reach. All of Western Europe is accessible, the map promises, within five days, as are parts of the east coast of the U.S., with parts further Midwest taking up to 10 days to reach.

What might have seemed like wizardry to Walter Raleigh probably sounds like hell on earth to business class denizens everywhere. How do these journeys compare to the current age of rapid air travel? Rome2rio, a “comprehensive global trip planner,” aimed to find out by recreating Bartholomew’s map, updated to 2016 standards. You can see, just above (or expanded here), the same view of the world from its onetime imperialist center, London, with the same color-coded legend below, “Distances in Days from London.” And yet here, a journey to most places will take less than a day, with certain outer reaches—Siberia, Greenland, the Arctic Circle, stretching into two, maybe three.

Should we have reason to complain, when those of us who do travel—or who must—have it so easy compared to the danger, boredom, and general unpleasantness of long-distance travel even one-hundred years ago? The question presumes humans are capable of not complaining about travel. Such complaint may form the basis of an ancient literary tradition, when heroes ventured over vast terrain, slaying monsters, solving riddles, making friends, lovers, and enemies…. The epic dimensions of historic travel can seem quaint compared to the sterile tedium of airport terminals. But just maybe—as in those long sea and railway voyages that could span several months—we can discover a kind of romance amidst the queasy food courts, tacky gift shops, and motorized moving walkways.

via  1843 Magazine

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

An Interactive Map of Every Record Shop in the World

Arriving in a new city usually means finding the nearest decent grocery, pharmacy, coffee shop, bookstore, laundry, etc. And before nearly every musical whim could be satisfied with a few clicks, it also meant for many people finding the nearest record store. Even the local strip mall chain might hold a surprise or two. But the true finds appeared among the small proprietors, merchandisers of dusty LPs in wooden bins and keepers of local music scene lore. Entering a well-curated music shop can feel like walking into a medieval apothecary. Whatever ails you, you’re sure to find a remedy here. If it doesn’t work, there remains a certain magic in the transaction. We continue to believe in music even when it lets us down.

But have we lost faith in the record shop? I hope not. Online streaming and buying has the regrettable effect of flattening everything into the same two dimensions without the aura of physical media and the musical paraphernalia we find in real life stores. Should you be among the unlucky who lack a local music store, fear not.




You can recover the romance by traveling to any one of the thousands of shops worldwide that are catalogued and mapped on VinylHub, a crowd-sourced “endeavor,” Ron Kretsch writes at Dangerous Minds, "to create an interactive map of every brick-and-mortar record store on Earth, a perfect resource for the world-traveling vinyl obsessive.”

Brought to us by masterminds behind Discogs and their similar spin-off online catalogs for books, movies, etc., this project might get us out of our chairs—maybe even out the country—and into new places to dig through the crates. But even if we’re not inclined to leave the house, VinylHub offers a wealth of fascinating information. “The single city with the largest density of shops,” we learn, “is Tokyo,” though “had you asked me,” Kretsch writes, “I’d have probably said London.” I’d have guessed New York, which comes in at a surprising 7th pace.

The most remote record store on Earth is a cluster of CD stalls above a produce market in the tiny Pacific Island Kingdom of Tonga, but Vinyl Run, located on the tiny Indian Ocean island of Réunion, sure looks like a contender. The northernmost is in Alta, Norway; the southernmost is in Invercargill, New Zealand.

The UK is currently second in number of shops by country: 537, with .8443 shops per 100,000 inhabitants. The United States at number one has almost triple that number, but also over five times the population. These figures are provisional. Much of the world remains uncharted—at least as far as record shops are concerned—and Discogs members continue to submit new entries. Should you find a blank spot on the map that needs a little record icon, you can join for free and contribute to the VinylHub community. While there’s nothing like a trip to a new music store, even if you’re only in it for the data, you’ll find much here to inspire.

Over at the Discogs blog, we learn several more facts, such as the two shops that are farthest apart (Madrid’s Citadel Records and Star Second-Hand Book-Music in Palmerston North, New Zealand: 19,978 km) and the location of that most remote shop (the market in Nuku’alofa in Tonga, address: “Upstairs of wet market”). VinylHub’s “Explorer” map utilizes Google Maps features to give you unlimited access to every region in the world. Zoom in to see the numbers by city and the individual locations of each and every shop in the database. You can even find record stores listed in Pyongyang—or rather record sections of several hotel bookshops. I wouldn't necessarily recommend making the trip, but it’s interesting to imagine what odd treasures we might find there—or at any of the other several thousand shops from around the world.

via Dangerous Minds

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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