If you ask a collection of strangers to draw a world map from memory what do you get? With an understanding of map projections, we know there is no one “correct” depiction of the globe on a flat piece of paper. But do people even get close?
Zak Ziebell undertook such a project and asked 30 people on the University of Michigan campus to draw the world map from memory. He then combined the layers in Photoshop to produce one map as seen below. One vision of the world from the University of Michigan.
The resulting map, in my eyes, is not bad. New Zealand and England are forgotten, Greenland becomes part of North America, and the Middle East and India smush together to form some sort of African/Asian hybrid. So it’s not great either. Is this a sign of American Geographic Illiteracy as some of the online overseas community has suggested? Or is it a sign of hurried impatience as a stranger approached a map drawer en route to more pressing matters?
I would love to see a similar project undertaken by people at all corners of the world; or even all corners of America. I would love to see it undertaken without a political bent. If somehow time of drawing could be controlled. Would it result in an illustration of American incompetence or American impatience? Or both? Or Neither?
I probably would forget New Zealand too. But would they forget the Great Lakes?