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Charts that Explain the World

The magazine Katapult in Greifswald seeks to present social science findings in a creative and graphically interesting way. And it succeeds very well indeed. Now the 100 best of these graphics have been published in book form.

By Holger Moos

100 Karten, die deine Sicht auf die Welt verändern © Hoffmann und Campe 100 Karten, die deine Sicht auf die Welt verändern (i.e. 100 charts that will change your view of the world) is the title of this by definition this highly descriptive work. One learns a lot from the graphics, e.g. that lighthouse density along the coasts of Europe is much higher than along that of Africa. How many trips abroad German chancellors have made, that only seven countries in the world have more inhabitants than Bangladesh or which countries the United Kingdom never invaded, remains unknown no longer.
Some of the graphics impress with their simplicity, such as the illustration of how much space we would need to supply the whole world with solar power or electricity from wind power. Others, by contrast, can only be accessed by taking a closer look and reading the accompanying text. For example, the world map “Women in national parliaments” shows only at second glance that there are only three countries in the world where there are more women than men in parliament.

FROM THE “baHaarmas” TO “Kamm Bodscha”

Katapult’s movers and shakers do not lack a sense of humour. A number of amusing graphics in the book serve as an expression of this. A map of Germany shows the preference of local hairdressers for giving their shops particularly original names, be it “KreHaartiv” (an untranslatable pun, roughly: “creative hair”) in the north, “baHaarmas” (roughly: “The Ba-hair-mas”) in the south, “Rheinlocken” (literally “Rhine tresses”, punning on “reinlocken” - “to lure one in”) in the west or “Kamm Bodscha” (i.e. “Comb-bodia”) in the east of the country. The names of German punk bands such as “Erotischer Stuhlgang” (i.e. erotic bowel movement), “Analstahl” (i.e. anal steel) or “Gülleschiss” (i.e. slurry funk) are also creative, but a tad “earthier”. Other graphics that seem funny at first glance have a serious core, such as the illustrations of melting objects – polar caps and ice cream – and those in which the melting troubles us. All that’s left is the ice cream.
The sheer quantity of useless knowledge seems limitless: As far as the distribution of heavy metal bands is concerned, Finland is the best supplied with musical resources worldwide, with more than 20 bands per 100,000 inhabitants – a fact that confirms any preconceptions one may have nurtured. But who would have known that London is on the same latitude as Dresden?


Benjamin Fredrich, the magazine’s founder, once opposed his management consultants' advice, who not only considered the print market to be over and done with, but also thought that Greifswald was not a good location for a print product: too small, too little infrastructure. One might wish that more management personnel would follow Benjamin Fredrich's advice: “We're not resistant to feed-back, you just have to stick with doing the opposite of what business consultants tell you. Then it's the best advice in the world. Thanks!”

This info-graphics book is great fun and will never fail to amaze you. The map on the cover, which shows that one can only go north from the South Pole in any direction, is a bit confusing despite or perhaps because of its simplicity, bringing to mind the saying that one only has to go east long enough to emerge in the west. It all depends on one' s perspective – this volume offers at least 100 different perspectives on
explaining the world. 100 Karten: Dinge, die schmelzen © Katapult / Hoffmann und Campe

Cherry Picker 100 Karten, die deine Sicht auf die Welt verändern
Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe, 2019. 208 S.
ISBN: 978-3-455-00538-7

Katapult – Magazin für Kartografik und Sozialwissenschaft
Greifswald: Katapult gUG
ISSN: 2509-3053 (erscheint vierteljährlich)