Along the same lines as the bathroom question a couple weeks ago, Warren Berger points to another fantastic question from a student in chapter 2.
“How come the East Indies are in the west?”
A simple yet profound example of a great question. The simple answer is that the world is a sphere, so all positions are relative, but there’s much more at play here. The East Indies are east when Europe is the point of reference. So why is Europe the default center?
Maps are very interesting representations more broadly. You might say they tell you more about the author or period of production than the area of interest. A map of national borders doesn’t tell you much about trade routes or weather patterns. A map of the United States isn’t the United States at all if it’s drawn in the year 1200. Most maps you look at today make Africa look similar in size to South America, when in fact the former is double the size of the latter.
Perhaps the next time you look at a map you might take an extra second to think about a question or two after you find what you’re looking for.