Thank you for this thoughtful answer, Cecil. I just wanted to add a link to a recently published article on the consequences of this north is up convention (i.e., north=up). Basically, across 4 experiments, we found that people irrationally favor real estate that is positioned at the top of a map, which is typically north (i.e., north=good). If you’re interested in learning more, here is a link to the abstract: http://spp.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/03/15/1948550611401042.abstract.
All the best and keep up the good work,
*ETA: Column in question: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/441/on-maps-why-is-north-always-up *