XKCD Isn't Funny - #1687 - World War III+ & #1688 - Map Age Guide
The problem I have with this type of joke, where a random topic is exaggerated, is that the joke starts and ends at the exaggeration. Yes, I get that that's the point, but nothing is tethering the joke to anything.
You can do Randy's style of exaggeration with almost anything. Fabric patterns: plaid, polka-dots, swastika. Mailing: envelopes, box, tank. Pets; cats, dogs, people. It's almost like satire, except it's satire on completely random topics that don't really have potential for being satired.
If this was actual satire, we would be learning something about something. In Candide, we learn that things aren't perfect and we shouldn't expect them to be (it was more shocking back in 18th-century France). In this comic, there isn't anything like that.
I don't need all my comedy to teach me something, but this way of presenting a joke lends itself best to jokes that are trying to make a point of some kind.
I'm not sure I'm articulating this properly. Feel even more free than usual to let me know if there's something I need to explain better.
While I appreciate the amount of effort that probably went into this, and that he even added fictional maps, I really don't see why this was needed. Unless I'm missing something and part of the joke is how no one needs to know the age of a map.
I feel like it would have been funny if there had been a single-panel buildup where we see Randy talking directly to the reader, saying something like "I know how many of you have trouble with your maps" and then we get the infographic. It'd make the expanse of the infographic into a joke in and of itself.
I would actually be really interested to know his reasoning behind making this, since it will be of pretty much no use to anyone ever. Everyone just uses Google now, you dingus!
Also! I don't know if you heard, but me and Jon Levi (of xkcd-sucks.blogspot.com and DiaBA fame) have started a podcast! It's about webcomics, on occasion, and it's called Panel Beat! Website here, and Twitter here. We're also on iTunes, if that's your speed! Check it out!!!!!!