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teh Lolbrarian
Level 1: 30 points
Alltime Score: 1523 points
Last Logged In: August 7th, 2010
TEAM: Team FOEcakes


25 + 339 points

Misuse of Maps by teh Lolbrarian

March 28th, 2008 7:46 PM

INSTRUCTIONS: Navigate a city or region using maps that do not represent that space.
For example, you can use a map of Central Park to traverse Loving County, Texas, or a map of the London Underground to find your way through SF MOMA.

Compare your expectations with your experiences.

For this task I shall navigate Champaign-Urbana, IL using XKCD's Map of Online Communities and Related Points of Interest.


It clearly says "do not use for navigation," so this makes it an ideal choice for misuse of maps.

The first order of business for this task was to determine my current location. My starting point was in Champaign near the university. This area contains many fraternities and sororities, as well as various undergraduate housing, restaurants, shops, etc. So it's probably somewhere in the Sea of N00bs, mayhaps between MySpace and Second Life. I was fairly confident about the location of Wikipedia, so I headed in that direction.

These look like n00bs to me.

I passed what appeared to be a bunch of pop-up ads. Or perhaps this is MySpace. It's hard to tell.

I got my bearings and came upon what might be the Sea of Culture. Look, Canada Geese! I am a bit concerned about the size of the sea, though. say nothing of the water quality. N00b pollution? Perhaps I should contact the EPA?

This seems to be part of DeviantART.

The Computer Science building, which I seemed to recall being somewhat wikipedia-like inside.

Yes, Wikipedia!

Part of an article.

After successfully navigating my way to Wikipedia, I decided to see if I could find Google's Volcano Fortress. So I headed out the door, and soon I came upon a likely candidate. There are rocks (I don't know any geologists here, so I could not determine if they were volcanic), and they clearly have a great deal of transmitting power. This is surely it.

Turning again, I successfully navigated to the Sea of Memes. This part of campus appears to be infested with a Glass And Brick Architecture meme-- there are many buildings in the style to the left. The trees and streetlights may be memes as well-- their placement is quite regimented and I suspect they've been Photoshopped in. This may be an example of copypasta.

Behold, another instance of a particularly prevalent meme, with construction in progress!

This sign helpfully informed me that World of Warcraft would be up ahead.

Perhaps this is part of the P2P shoals? Although really, you can find these folks almost anywhere on the net. Heck, this could be the Isle of Slash in the Ocean of Subculture... This map really does present some navigational challenges.

Once again, this could be so many parts of the Internet. But the map warned me of anthropomorphic dragons, to say nothing of Second Life, so I exercised caution.

And this could also be many online communities, but based on the other landmarks in the area, I would say it is Second Life, for which I truly haven't had the patience lately, so I concluded my explorations before reaching it.

I expected this would be a difficult task. I wasn't sure if I'd find many interesting things on my walk that I could interpret in terms of my map. I thought I might get bored while in areas I see every day. And at one point during the walk, I was well off my usual beaten path and feared I might actually have to backtrack to orient myself, as the map clearly offered... limited assistance. But there are some advantages to doing these activities in a small city that is mostly on a grid-- I was able to orient myself on the spot once I looked around.

And clearly I had fun-- I wound up walking about two miles without particularly noticing. I saw some new parts of town, remembered a few likely points of interest when I was in familiar territory, and was able to spot new things from the fresh perspective offered by the map. Using a map that does not represent physical geography made this a particularly interesting experience; it was a real challenge to keep my location and orientation in mind in terms of the map I was (mis)using-- juggling these several points of reference was more difficult than I expected. I was also thinking of ways to concisely explain my activity if people attempted to help me as I stared at and turned my map, but no one actually came up to me, so I have no random human encounters to report this time.

+ larger

online communities map
sea of culture?
poor water quality
computer science
citation needed
an article
a suspicious structure
a meme under construction
WoW is this way?
definitely Second Life?

71 vote(s)

Favorite of:


foecake, foecakefleur

7 comment(s)

(no subject) +1
posted by Lainthulu on March 29th, 2008 1:39 AM

If I could vote more than once I would.

This is so cool it hurts.

(no subject) +1
posted by teh Lolbrarian on March 29th, 2008 8:16 AM

Thanks! And to think I'd considered using a conventional map for this task...

(no subject)
posted by Gremlin on March 30th, 2008 1:09 AM

Oh the brilliance! (And the laughing!). Well done.

(no subject)
posted by Haberley Mead on April 10th, 2008 1:04 PM

How did I miss this the first time round? Fantastic completion! Well done, sir!

(no subject) +1
posted by Shia Astoria on April 24th, 2008 3:53 AM

Scary how accurate that map seemed to be in places! If you could hear me applauding, you'd be deafened.

(no subject)
posted by teh Lolbrarian on April 24th, 2008 8:21 AM

Shia Astoria: Thank you! And you know, it would be interesting to see other people try this map-- they might be reluctant to use one that's been used already, but I, for one, would be really fascinated to see how people could fit it to other spaces.

(no subject) +1
posted by Rainy on May 18th, 2008 10:05 AM

This is awesome.