Maps have taken numerous forms, and there has been no single standard map representing the world.

Issue in Palestine

There is a current online petition for over 5 months that demands for Palestine to be given labels and borders in Google Maps. Google never labeled Palestine which is not recognized officially by the United States and most of the western world.

The backlash is more than just that. It is the reduced belief in technology as unbiased and neutral.

Renaissance Period and Albrecht Penck

There was no map of the world before the expeditions during the Renaissance period. Albecht Penck, a German geographer, suggested and led the International World Map project in 1891. Maps are to be designed based on a sole global standard. In A History of the World in Twelve Maps, Penck was discontented about the lack of uniformity in terms of scales and styles of existing maps. In addition, Penck wanted to collaborate with map drawers around the world to make a book of 2,5000 maps where a centimeter equates to one kilometer.

Penck’s standardized map was never finished. The commitment diminished by world war two. Only a few maps were made. It was the closest endeavor to a global map creation standard.

The Challenge

Even though maps are noted as universal, there are still disagreements about changing coastlines, variable measures and varying ideas about nations and their sovereign rights.

Even Google could not create this vision of the globe that is universal for all people. It has tried. With the Palestine controversy, it was known that Google Maps is showing disputed borders differently. This depends on the location of the user who is searching it. Disputed Territories documented this through its ongoing project.

While it seems an imperialistic move for Google to do this, it is also distressing to see them take part into verdicts regarding international occupation. Users deserve transparency from companies with regard to how their services work.


Many digital maps and Illustrated Maps are just a part of how people view the world with the need for reliability and neutrality like Penck’s dream of a single and standardized world map.

About Author: Christopher Williams