Map Perspectives

The first map that caught my attention was the medical distribution one.   This really brought home just how far and few medical care is!   I’ve been at the mercy of this myself.   I broke my leg a few ago while at our cabin in Talkeetna…which is only accessible by snowmachine.   So I first had to endure a snowmachine ride out to the car…then the car ride an urgent care in Wasilla.   Now I might have been able to find something in Talkeetna (as this shows a rural clinic), but I had no idea where it was or if they’d be open, so driving to Wasilla made more sense for me. Something that I feel that this doesn’t show is that many of these rural clinic have limited hours.   I was also shocked that Fairbanks didn’t have more!

I also found the forest map very interesting because I just took an anthropology class that was discussing how certain forest types are growing in response to climate change.   It would be interesting to see this map as a time lapse – how has the dispersal of forest types changed over time and what are the projected changes.   I feel like this map is just a bit of the picture and to be truly useful, it should show those changes.

I really liked the projections.   So often we just see the “traditional” world view, which are versions of the first three.   They are all slightly different, but all are what I would consider “traditional” maps.   But then we get the Winkel-Tripel project that centers on the Pacific, which is a great view for Alaska.   It sure makes Australia seem closer!   And look at those Aleutians stretching out to Japan – makes you realize why Japan was invading through the Aleutians in World War II!   Now I’ve seen that one…I hadn’t seen the last one before.   That really highlights Alaska – and again just how far out of the Aleutian Chain goes!!! I like that you can see Hawaii down there in the bottom.

Now I admit as I went to look at the maps in the atlas, I got distracted by all the other cool ones.   I loved the time zone one!! Or that distance one (Map 6).   And those election district changes between 1960 and 1994!!!   But on topic….map 3 was hard to adjust to with the polar ice caps – definitely a different view. Makes me wonder if that is the future….I like Map 4 much like I liked the last two projects in that it really shows Alaska’s place in relation to her closest neighbors – Russia and Japan.   When we look at at at traditional map, Japan seems like the other side of the world, but it really isn’t for us in Alaska. We think of Russia, but we don’t think of Japan as often.   I didn’t really like the last one (Map 5), sorry Gov. Hickel.   I liked the colors (that you can really see the Panhandle and it doesn’t get mixed into Canada), but otherwise it didn’t do much for me.   It seemed like a lot of empty space with the way the Pacific Ocean is highlighted.   It does makes you realize why people like to just put Alaska and Hawaii in boxes in the corners….

I do believe that a good map is worth many pages of description.   We all know how helpful a map is to find a new location (we were just using Google Maps today to show my grandfather were I might need picked up next week as I wanted to give historical directions (it is by the old barn!) and my husband was trying to name roads (it is off the Parks at the Trunk roundabout) and we were just confusing each other).   Changing the perspective of a map can really change how it makes a point, which we clearly saw with the projections.   It is shocking how different the world looks when you change the map focus from the Atlantic to the Pacific!

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