Forward thinking maps, backwards yearning food

30 November 2007

At least two meals today will consist of the dwindling store of Thanksgiving leftovers: Elle’s mascarpone-whiskey pumpkin pie to break my fast and the ubiquitous turkey sandwiches for lunch. Outstanding all around.

In doing some research over the last couple of days, I’ve been surprised at how unsophisticated the majority of nonprofit and government agencies seem to be about their data presentation. For starters, any of you who are not assiduous fans of the West Wing may be unaware that there are a shocking number of inaccuracies and political problems with the most common map projection in the world. But that’s just the beginning.

I was also very surprised to learn that several UN agencies–the UN for the love of Mike!–have their data available for download as MS Excel files. Not that there is anything wrong with Ecxel qua Excel, but why is the UN implicitly lending their credibility to a specific Microsoft product? And furthermore, that implies that whatever international agency posts those statistics has agreed to the end-user license agreement, with all of the terms contained therein. I know I certainly haven’t read it top to bottom–I always just click ‘Agree,’ like I’m supposed to.

Off to work, where I hope to engender a discussion about how the phrase ‘quantum leap,’ originally meant a small change, but the large impact of the discovery of the small change has shifted the meaning of the phrase in even educated usage.

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One Response to “Forward thinking maps, backwards yearning food”

  1. Roberto Says:

    YAY Peter’s Projection. One of the prof’s here has that map on his door. In fact, he has the one that shows the world with the North Pole on the bottom. How cool is that?

    Hmmm….I suppose that you could also interpret the phrase quantum leap to mean instantaneous, without a middle step. In terms of sociological matters, a quantum leap doesn’t have to be huge, just abrupt enough to cause discomfort.


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