[MUSIC] Hi there, and welcome to this, the very first lecture in our course, Configuring the World. I don't know about your experience. Well, one the earliest books I remember receiving was a child's atlas, big bold print, countries populated by exotic beasts and inhabitants estranged in colorful costumes. Still later I had a globe where from the comfort of my room I could let my mind follow my finger as I trace the route to far away places. But at some stage the fascination dimmed. For me, it happened in secondary school where my color-blindness proved a bit of a problem. Well, actually a major handicap when it came to deciphering all the various hues of greens and browns and reds. Yeah, what reds? For most of us, the world eventually became too familiar. And we settle for a one page representation that look more or less like this one. My Chinese map of the world the way spins it round so that China is nearer at the center. This is the Mercator projection named after the Belgian cartographer Gerardus Mercator who in 1569 produced this view of the world. He was faced with the question of how to portray a 3D object in 2D space. Because it's a globe, as we move away from the equator to the pole, so the surface area decreases at a constant rate. So Mercator resolved the problem simply by increasing the distances at the same rate. Then, with a set of tables, it would be easy to convert a measurement between two points back to their true distance. And this meant basically then with such a measure and the set of tables, sailors could calculate the distance between two points on the map, because that's what Mercator wanted. A map of the sea, not a map of the land. But as for the land, the further you moved away from the equator, so the areas distorted at the same rate as the other distances. Most of us can live with that. And anyway, why bother to change it? We probably wouldn't do anything with a different map anyway. A long time ago, we've already internalized the map and the locations and information it projects to basically suit our own purposes. For most of us, our view of the world is by now well established. It's been shaped by our knowledge, our prejudices, our interests. And it differs from the view of the world from other countries and other cultures. The map you're looking at now was drawn by Saul Steinberg in 1976. And it caricatures the image of the world as seen from New York. It portrays downtown Manhattan in detail. It shows the rest of the USA as a desert with a few points of interest. Along the distant horizon, you can barely discern Russia, China, and Japan. It's a parody and the format's being copied for many different countries, and the viewpoint of many different statesmen. It's not new to say that our view of the world starts with ourselves. It's always been this way and we might as well be honest and stop pretending. You're now looking at the oldest world map ever discovered. The Maikop vase is 4,500 years old. It was discovered in 1897 in the Western Caucasus. It portrays the Kuban river region. It shows two rivers flowing into a lake in the foreground where wild animals are grazing. Various cattle roam the middle ranges, and in the distance are forests, fruit trees and distant hills and mountains, and beyond that who knows? Let's look at one more map. This one, just over 950 years old. It's a Turkish map projection by Mahmud Kashkari. And it's oriented so that the top faces east. Map is interesting for its use of different symbols and colors, from mountains, cities, desserts, and the like. And notice, the closer to home, the more detailed it is. But it does name most of the countries in North Africa and Asia, including China and Japan at the top. Once one gets to the North, it simply has the inscription uninhabitable because of excessive cold. Most of the maps of that time had dark unknown places, which were either left uninhabitable, or were filled with strange imaginary creatures. Actually, just like our own world. For them, like us, what you see depends on where you stand. But it shouldn't determine where you should be looking. So in this course, we're going to make a start on configuring the world. And that process must begin with recognizing the limitations in our own view. It's not enough to recognize that our view may be distorted and that there are other views. We must start by assuming that our view also belongs to the category other. Now to configure the world we need two things, a framework of questions and data to answer them. For the framework, we will start with a state controlled view. If you noticed the modern version of the Mercator map we saw at the beginning was framed as states, not forest, rivers, and hills. Then we'll start by adding some data, checking what we really know compared to what we think we know. And we're going to begin with size and wealth. And this is what we're going to be doing for the rest of this week. Now, we've put the maps that you've seen in a special visualization together with some others that I hope you're going to enjoy.