"The Unbiased Map"

post by JohnBuridan · 2019-01-27T19:08:10.051Z · score: 15 (9 votes) · LW · GW · 1 comments

“Long have we suffered under the tyranny of maps.

Biased maps which show topography, but not population.

Wretched maps which speak of religion, but not languages.

Divisive maps which paint with the color of Party, but not the color of economic conditions.

Dirty maps which show crop yield across the heartland, but neglect Fiber Optic Internet coverage.

Our age calls for better maps, maps free from the bias of these old maps, perfect maps.

Imagine the day of the unbiased map. The map which shows both how to get to the airport via public transit and GDP by county. The holy map demonstrating last year’s rainfall and the distribution of seminaries and rabbinical schools. The ancestral map depicting migration of immigrants and American tribes in 1491.

Don’t give me an atlas which pretends at perfection but hisses red herrings from hydra-heads. I want the real thing, a map which doesn’t end at some arbitrary border whether it be the county line, or the sphere of earth. A map which can show the world as known by the Qing Dynasty, Strabo, Majorcan Jews, and the Aztecs. A map of Elon Musk’s neurons and a map of the solar system.

Today’s maps enlighten as the Brothers Grimm, through a bundle of fairy tales. There are no ethical maps under capitalism, all of them drip with the status quo. None show me the world that should be, none provide directions to Valhalla, all show but the thin surface of Reality. And for Mankind, the surface does not satisfy!”

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comment by JohnBuridan · 2019-01-28T02:21:17.704Z · score: 12 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I am working through questions about paradigms and historiography right now. These questions drove me to write this creative speech. I went from, "Is there such a thing in history as 'just the facts?'" and from there I went to is there anything in cartography as "just the facts." This reductio ab absurdum I hope shows that maps are used for different purposes, and there are better and worse maps for different purposes. We are looking for maps which fit our purposes. The right maps for the right purposes.

According to the line of reasoning in the reductio, there is no map which is "just the facts" without also being "all the facts" and thus becoming the territory itself.

What does this say about the craft of history? I don't know.