Putting into perspective

Like the rest of the world, I’m cautiously watching the things develop with respect to the United States and North Korea.  We all want peace.

Unfortunately, like many people, I suspect that I learned most about Korea through watching episodes of M*A*S*H – hardly an objective lesson in history.  I had more than a passing interest in school but the facts, details and perspective has never been so easily available as it is today.

Certainly, it’s an area of media literacy and we don’t get a balanced objective two-side approach to the details.  Wikipedia provides a very thorough discussion here.  From a geographic point of view, both Korea states occupy the Korean Peninsula.

From Google Maps, it looks like this.

KoreanPeninsula

As I was looking, I was struck with how the shape looks much like New Jersey.

NewJersey

Comparing the two, it’s kind of rough-ish but I see a similarity in shape.

Then, I started to wonder about size and that took me back to a presentation by Peter McAsh at EdCampLondon.  He has a strong background in Geography and did an interesting presentation about maps and objects on maps sizes.

Now, I had known about the fact that land masses are exaggerated in the maps that we grew up with on classroom walls.  He showed us an interesting visual using Greenland and Google Maps and put it all to rest.

The trick was to create a new “My Map” and use the selection tool to draw around Greenland on the map.

Greenland

The stats for the area?

GreenlandStats

The magic happens when you pick up the area and move it.  As you do, the stretching effect made by making a “flat map” is altered as you dragged.  In this case, as you drag it over Europe, the effect is very revealing.

GreenlandEurope

So, what about the Korean Peninsula and New Jersey?  Can we put them side by side?

Of course.

Even looking at the map, reveals that the peninsula is considerably bigger.  Using Peter’s tip, I selected both and moved the resulting images (a map layer actually) out to the Atlantic Ocean so that the background was just water.  My selection of New Jersey appears on the left; the Korean Peninsula on the right.

JerseyKoreanPeninsula

It was a nice visual comparison of the relative size of the two.  Of course, I had to drag the two areas all over the map of the world to see what countries are roughly the same size; I’d already done the same shape thing.  I kind of thought that the Korean Peninsula area that I selected was shaped much like Manitoba so dragged it over there.

The technique could be used in many instances when all that you need is a visual comparison between a selected area(s) and a base image.

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