How are normal world maps created?
Planet Earth is quite much like a sphere. When it is depicted on a square world map, this is often done just like on the map below. This is called the Equirectangular or Geographic projection. Longitude lines are the lines between the North and South pole. These lines come together near the poles, but get more distant from each other near the equator. World maps are often created by drawing these lines as if they are parellel, i.e. as if they are as distant from each other near the poles as near the equator.
This yields quite a lot of distortion on the map, but we don't complain. The distortion is biggest near the poles and few people live in these cold areas. Therefore, a world map with hugely distorted poles is not inconvenient.
Alternative world maps
You can create alternative world maps by choosing another place to be on the top of the map. Instead of the North pole, you can choose any place, like your home. Longitude lines are drawn from this place to the opposite side of the planet and a map can be drawn.
You will see that the results are very different from what we think is a normal world map, although they are in fact good world maps. They are not more distorted than "normal" maps, but the distortion has been moved from the poles to two other places.
A demonstration video
Create your own maps!
The Alternative World Map Creator is a program for Windows, which allows you to create alternative maps.
You can simply pick a spot somewhere on the Earth to be on the top or bottom of the map, for example your own house! You can save alternative maps as images, so you can print them or use them as desktop backgrounds.
Also, a screensaver that generates random maps is included.
Important: this program is not under development anymore. It works with Windows Vista and Windows 7, but I can not guarantee that it works with more recent Windows versions.
Download the program (9 mb).