Disparity and distortion
Mar 06, 2007
I am of two minds about "cartograms", which are world maps in which the area of each country is made proportional to some measurement such as population, wealth, consumption and so on. I have liked them since young and they typically make spectacular effects but then it's distortion wilfully introduced.
Perhaps the saving grace is that there exists such extreme disparity in our world. Because of these vast differences, the distortion does not distract us from perceiving the meaning of these maps.
Thanks to Eric C. for alerting me to this set of cartograms, including this one on military spending. I'm surprised by the size of Europe as compared to the former Soviet Union.
For more please check
Posted by: John Tang | Mar 06, 2007 at 01:04 AM
The Soviet Union invaded countries and sucked them dry. Thats why the invaded countries don't have military budgets. Russia don't pay very much saleries to their army at all. Therefore cheep.
Rest of Europe spend at least some money on international missions, where they try to keep order in unstable countries, such as thoose where US have been with their armys.
Pretty pictures thought, but isn't data per country a kind of old comparison to make, compared to data per captia or a like.
Posted by: peterh | Mar 06, 2007 at 09:05 AM
Yuck, this chart looks like they should really learn about the purchasing power parity.
Posted by: Aleks | Mar 06, 2007 at 12:03 PM
I notice this set of cartograms doesn't correct for population density. That means high density countries are biased to increase and low dense countries are biased to decrease.
I don't think that's required. It would seem that one could easily adjust this by some mechanism like this.
Standard size of country: 800,000
% of world's population: 2%
% of world's military spending: 3%
Adjusted size of country: 800,000 * 3/2 = 1,200,000.
This makes size relative to the country's "normal" size.
Posted by: ZBicyclist | Mar 07, 2007 at 02:02 PM
the cartograms don't necessarily have to account for population density. it could be more useful depending on how the information is applied, but comparing the total military spending regardless of population density is very valuable as well.
it can suggest the strength of the military force as a whole and how the countries fare against each other.
also, we can easily use common knowledge to see basic trends. china and india have higher population densities than usa, or a lot of european countries, yet they are relatively small on the map.
Posted by: jessica | Apr 07, 2007 at 01:50 PM