The AuthaGraph map has been appearing just about everywhere on the internet over the past few days, but it was actually created in 1999. The map recently won the 2016 Good Design Grand Award from the Japan Institute for Design Promotion because it “faithfully represents all oceans, continents including the neglected Antarctica”. Pictured below, the AuthaGraph map preserves the area of landmasses much better than other projections.
By contrast, the Mercator map (below) has been the most popular for the past few centuries, yet it fails (some might say miserably) to accurately portray the size of landmasses. Take Greenland and Africa, for example; Greenland is supposed to be 1/14th the size of Africa, yet they are roughly the same size.
The Mercator map was originally intended for navigational purposes as it was best at preserving angles and measurements. In the last century, most people haven’t needed a map for this purpose, yet the Mercator made its way into school textbooks and mainstream society’s general understanding of the world’s land masses. There isn’t a clearly defined truth as to how the Mercator became so ubiquitous, but some claim that it was to enforce European Imperialism by making the continent seem larger and more dominant.
However, this does not mean that the AuthaGraph map is flawless. First, it is not possible to provide a sense of the cardinal directions using only one north arrow. Second, the map needs “a further step to increase a number of subdivision for improving its accuracy to be officially called an area-equal map” according to the Good Design Award.
Ultimately, the AuthaGraph map is a strong step forward in accurately portraying the Earth in two dimensions. Perhaps it is not time to abandon the Mercator map, but rather time to include a variety of map projections in education, understand why they exist, and how they can be used together.