Nick Danforth writing for Aljazeera America:

As the United States was just beginning to emerge on the world stage in the 19th century, American cartographers made some earnest efforts to give the U.S. pride of place. While there is something endearing about the idea of an Indiana map maker in 1871 preparing an atlas with Indiana squarely in the center of the world, the unfortunate side effect was that most of the Midwest disappeared into the gaping crease between atlas pages. Nepal, of course, gets a bit cut off on the sides, but that is nothing compared with what happens to Nebraska. And ironically, accepting the United States’ position in the top left leaves Africa at the very center of the map, which is hardly in line with the politics of the time. Though this puts Africa in what was once considered the map’s prime real estate, it also reduces the continent’s relative size on the standard Mercator projection — another source of complaint for carto-critics.

I've been experimenting with Google Maps on my iPhone instead of Apple's native Maps app. I'm mostly indifferent.

But one difference between Google Maps and Apple Maps is how you zoom in on a location. Google Maps makes it more difficult to rotate the map as your fingers pinch to zoom. I become infuriated with Apple's Maps when I pinch to zoom and the entire map rotates to put the East on top. My mind becomes lost as I try to navigate cities in an Easterly manner.

McArthur's Universal Corrective Map of the World quickly puts this into context. I had to look twice at the map before determining where Australia was situated.

These little constructions of our daily lives have been developed over time through countless iteration and innovation. They have become so normal that we hardly recognize these constructions when they are in front of us. This is why I studied history; I've been laughed at for spending money on a history degree, but I have always felt an understanding of these human intricacies provides a foundation for learning about everything else.

This is a really cool discussion on why maps are drawn the way they are. Enjoy.

(Via Matt Mullenweg)