The Politics of Maps

One of the pieces of technology I most love showing to other educators is the ever growing collection of Google’s “mapping”1 resources. Not only do they often come with layers of great information, Google also provides excellent tools for anyone to do it themselves. Take a look around the other side of this site for other posts on how to use them.

But one aspect we rarely address, or even consider, is that not everyone in the world views those maps in the same way. A very current example is the fact that Google says Crimea is still part of the Ukraine, something certainly disputed by Russia.

The geopolitical aspect of map making throughout history, and Google’s place in the center of this latest example, were the subject of two segments on the most recent edition of the public radio program and podcast On the Media.

If your students are studying geography, current events, world history, or anything to do with the nature of information, the program would be a good starter for discussion and analysis.

Also from the world of Google’s maps, they continue to their Street View cameras into places that really don’t have streets. The latest example allows visitors to wander through the ruins at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

And finally, one question that comes up regularly in my sessions, is where does Google get its maps?2 This post from the Google Earth blog is a good overview of the process.


Cross posted from the other side of this site on which you’ll find my training resources and other good stuff.


  1. We need a better term than “map”, which has very static connotations these days.

  2. That one often comes before or after someone asks “Where can I see the live feed?”, which, of course, only exists in spy films.

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