Society 2.0 — Up is Down

David Pulcifer
5 min readOct 12, 2020

Society 2.0 — Chapter 2 — Challenging Our Assumptions

There is no good reason why our maps don’t look like this:

Perfectly normal map of the world

There’s also no reason that we don’t select the image below, the way I have oriented it, when we want to display an image of the Earth:

A completely normal view of Earth

Let’s not get caught up in arguing about maps, because this isn’t an article about map making. Yes there are a lot of explanations on why we look at the world the way we do, and there are a lot of events that led up to the decision to orient our maps the way we do.

The important takeaway I’m trying to get across is that these were all arbitrary decisions. There is no underpinning logic to dictate why our maps must be oriented the way they are. Someone at some time made an arbitrary decision. And that decision became popular and carried itself forward through tradition.

And now we find ourselves in a world where North is considered up, and South is considered down. And these arbitrary considerations further dictate how we envision the orientation of the galaxy and even the universe.

This is not an article about how we should orient our maps. This is an article about assumptions, and how we can recognize and pull apart our assumptions.

If we want to build a better society, we have to learn how to spot and challenge our assumptions; even deeply held ones that have been around forever.

Here is another example, the direction we write:

English is left to right then up to down.

The English language is typically written from left to right, and we start at the top of the page and move down from there, line by line.

Arabic, Hebrew and many other languages are written right to left. Chinese, Japanese, and Korean are traditionally written vertically rather than…