31 October 2013

Maps are cool. Ok, maybe only in a nerdish kind of way way—but that’s cool enough, right?. Today, anyone can create their own own, thanks to the fact that a lot of research data is now posted online. The rise of huge (and slightly creepy) data-gathering satellites—along with the increased interactive abilities of the Internet—have made maps much more comprehensive, useful and fun. Here are five that are worth your time…


Wanderlust is an obscure word meaning strong desire to travel. It maps out or describes 23 of the most significant historical routes already travelled, both fictional and real. For literature lovers, the journey of Around the World in Eighty Days is drawn out; for history buffs, Cook’s Endeavour Voyage is there. It’s a wonderful, colourful and interactive resource for those who love travel or history. Also great for avoiding subject readings.

Atlas of True Names

This map collection purports to reveal the original meanings of place names—so Australia becomes “Land of the South Wind”. New York is apparently “New Yew-Tree Village”, while India is “Land of the Flow”. Enraged academics have accused it of factual inaccuracy, sloppy research and inconsistent linguistic applications. Still, it’s a great way to start a debate/punch-on in your linguistics tutorial, and it does make the world seem a little bit more magical.

Social Health Atlas of Australia

Collating a dazzling array of health and social data, this terrifyingly detailed map has ‘big brother’ written all over it. Everything from total fertility rates to youth unemployment is covered. The data provided ranges from the unsurprising to the terrifying. People in rural areas are far more likely to have had “difficulty accessing services”, while the rates of smoking during pregnancy are apparently above 50% in parts of the country. Can be used for procrastination, or as a tool for inserting impressive statistics into an essay.

Around the World in 80 Beers

Uni is more about beer than actually studying. Each country on the Around The World In 80 Beers map is represented by a different beer brand. And yes, the famously dry Islamic states of the Middle East are plastered with non-alcoholic beer. The map has been received with some controversy – Australia, for example, is somewhat embarrassingly covered by a huge VB logo. And its critics accuse of it of unfairly favouring the cheapest beer brands.

One Million Tweet Map

Want to feel like the CIA or the NSA conducting a top secret surveillance program? This map lets you do it! It covers the entire world in bubbles representing the last million tweets. Clicking on a bubble takes you further into specific locations—eventually allowing you to see tweets by suburb. Looking at it during Melbourne Uni Open Day was particularly insightful in revealing what was going on behind the scenes. If you’re into social media, stalking or IT, this may be the perfect map for you.

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