A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2019 Dec 13, 15:18 -0800
It's back?? Has Google brought the Mercator Projection back to Google Maps after eliminating it 16 months ago?? Try it out on other devices for me, and let me know if they have, in fact, turned the clock back. Zoom out to a continent-wide view and see if you find the "Gigantic Greenland" so characteristic of the Mercator projection. Another clue: now that Mercator is back, it is not possible to "visit" the North or South poles in Google Maps.
It's interesting that there appears to be no public discussion of this, no press release from Google, no notes in their technical discussions. There was quite a bit of media coverage in August 2018, but a lot of that was just bloggers and other commentators "giggling" at the idea that Google was thumbing its internet-nose at the flat-earthers (see the link below). Switching back I guess isn't news?? Or is it possible that it's just some small fraction of users? Or some setting on my Internet connection? This seems unlikely as I'm seeing it on MacOS, Windows, Android, iOS... everywhere that I can access Google Maps.
In early August, 2018, I wrote:
A decade ago, Google set the clock back in cartography by adopting the hideous map projection known as the "Mercator projection" as the basis for its online mapping service. It has since propagated to nearly every corner of the online world. It was a shocking thing for folks who understood mapping and cartography when Google made this choice since Mercator was nearly dead by the beginning of the 21st century except in certain antiquated communities trapped by what we might call "installed base", specifically the massive inertia of nautical charts in some cultures.
A few days ago I popped into Google Maps. and zoomed out a bit to a broad view of the eastern US. As I did so, the service drew in some quick lines before filling the map, and those lines were curved. Curved lines! I couldn't believe it! Sure enough, Google Maps is now using the standard "bird's eye view" projection, or if you prefer, "astronaut's eye view" of the globe. This is a vast imrovement, and it should rapidly accelerate the disappearance of the Mercator projection in the majority of applications. Show's over. It's done. Our long cartographic nightmare is drawing to a close...
Truth is, we've had nearly a generation of digital Mercator maps in un-necessary contexts (essentially all contexts), and they will be with us for at least five years, which is a long time-horizon in the internet world. So the show isn't quite over... but folks are folding up their blankets and running for the parking lot.
Here's a little press coverage: https://www.theverge.com/2018/8/5/17653122/google-maps-update-mercator-projection-earth-isnt-flat.
Conanicut Island USA