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Google Maps is not useless, far from it. The projection method chosen (Mercator) is useless for the small scales, and misleading. Except if you are a (XVII° century) marine navigator.

De-zoom and look at the apparent continent sizes, it's just horrible. Half of emerged lands in antarctica ? Groenland the size of Africa ? Think about children exposed to those maps before a good atlas is showed to them.

I co-wrote a paper about this topic, but it's in french : http://mappemonde.mgm.fr/num20/internet/int08401.html

A technical choice (summary : it's easier to have perpendicular parallels and meridians) has prevailed upon a geographical choice. It's not very complicated to link the projection to the scale of the view, all serious geographical internet portals are doing so (IGN, Ordnance Survey, etc.)




An example of the contamination of bad world maps projection :

http://aworldoftweets.frogdesign.com/




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