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On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: six

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — on the rich visual similarities between two diagrams from widely separated topic areas ]
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I don’t think we always appreciate just how similar graph-based mappings are to one another — or why the HipBone-Sembl Games are therefore so closely analogous to so many other graph-based mappings of the world around us:

ARPANET Washingmachine DQ tablet

This particular pairing of images struck me today when Mike Walker tweeted it the Arpanet map in quoting a World Economic Forum post — and the memory it called up was another image I found, who knows where, quite a few years ago, of the workings of a washing machine.

We really have two tips of the iceberg of a hugely pervasive language of node-and-edge-based graphs here.

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Previous posts in this series:

  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: preliminaries
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: two dazzlers
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: three
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: four
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: five
  • Related posts, overlapping with those above:

  • Graph-types 1: sample graphs and boards
  • Graph-types 2: towards a universal graphical mapping language
  • I expect there’s more but that’s what a quick scan brought up.

    That a world-mapping should include our assumptions

    Friday, May 13th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — Lorenz’ butterfly : tornado :: Fukushima’s rat : earthquake? + Brussles metro attack ]
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    Brussels map
    Brussels metro & tramway map

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    For every unintended consequence, there’s an assumption that was assumed and thus overlooked, forgotten, unfairly assigned to oblivion, amirite? Sometimes we’re fortunate, and a pattern emerges that can then be written into checklists, and repeat unintended consequences subsequently averted, if we heed the checklists, ahem.

    Consider this stunning paragraph, from a Union of concerned Scientists‘ 2013 piece titled Fission Stories #133: Mayflies, and Squirrels, and Rats, …:

    Fukushima Daiichi recently received worldwide media attention when another power outage once again interrupted cooling of the water in the Unit4 spent fuel pool for several hours. The culprits in 2011 were an earthquake that knocked out the normal supply of electricity to the cooling system and a tsunami that disabled the backup power source. This time, a rat was the culprit. It chewed through the insulation on an electrical cable, exposing wires that shorted out and stopped the cooling system. It was also the rat’s final meal as the event also electrocuted the guilty party.

    Part of what’s so conceptually audacious here is the implicit risk equation, okay, perhaps I should call it the implicit risk approximation:

    earthquake = rat

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    Take the Brussels metro attack: in my less-than-graphically-ideal mapping below, the left hand column shows what was intanded by the police to be the order of events as they initiated them in response to the airport attack a little earlier:

    01

    while the two centered annotations in red indicate the unverified assumption that interfered with the sequence of events as intended by the police, and the right hand column shows what actually transpired.

    Exceopt that the situation was wildly more complex than that — a point not germane to my argument here, but elaborated upon in today’s WaPo article, The email that was supposed to prevent the Brussels metro attack was sent to the wrong address. Which see.

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    Getting back to Fukushima, the earthquake and the rat, perhaps we can now take the title of Edward Lorenz‘ remarable paper that gave us the term “butterfly effect” — Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas? — out of the realm of speculation, and into the realm of improbable yet actualized comparables, by rephrasing it thus: Predictability: Does the Bite of a Rat’s Teeth in Fukushima Have Comparable Effect to an Earthquake in Fukushima?

    Oh, and just because something is predictable doesn’t mean it’s predicted — and just because something is predicted doesn’t mean the prediction will be heard or heeded.

    And that’s an anticipable consequence of the way we are.

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    In the matter of Quixote:

    I have this quixotic wish to see a map of global dependencies — it’s something I’ve thought about ever since Don Beck told me “Y2K is like a lightning bolt: when it strikes and lights up the sky, we will see the contours of our social systems” — and I’ve talked about it here before, in eg Mapping our interdependencies and vulnerabilities [with a glance at Y2K].

    It’s a windmill, agreed — a glorious windmill! — and indeed, combining all our potential assumptions about even one single Belgian metro station in the course of just one particular morning and adding them to a map — or a checklist — would be another.

    Tilting at windmills, however, is one of the great games of the imagination, frowned upon by all the righteously serious among us, well-suited to poets — and having the potential to help us avoid those damned unintended consequences.

    The diplexity of complomacy in the Muddle East

    Thursday, February 11th, 2016

    [ bu Charles Cameron — paging Jackson Pollock ]
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    Liz Sly has the overview:

    Karl Sharro provides the specifics:

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    For “Muddle East” — hat-tip Ralph Birnbaum.

    Sceenius: Y2K and a universal graphical mapping language

    Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — a mental long-jump, following Sceenius: the macro in micro, Nepal ]
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    It’s a stretch, I know, and whether it will prove a useful leap or not I have no idea — but for the record, this detail from slide 8 of the Sceenius promo caught my eye, offering a graphical continuity between my own HipBone / Semble gameboards and Richard Feynman‘s celebrated particle diagrams:

    Sceenius

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    I have this almost Borgesian interest in what kind of map of the world we’d get if we had a universal language of graphs.

    When I was working on the potential social implications of the Y2K computer bug — which included the al-Qaida “Millennium Plot” and Albert Ressam‘s attempt to blow up the international terminal at LAX during the millennial roll-over — my friend and colleague Don Beck of the National Values Center / The Spiral Dynamics Group suggested in a private communication:

    Y2K is like a lightening bolt: when it strikes and lights up the sky, we will see the contours of our social systems.

    As it turned out, the lightning struck and failed to strike, a team from the Mitre Corporation produced a voluminous report on what the material and social connectivity of the world boded in case of significant Y2K computer failures, we did indeed get our first major glimpse of the world weave, and thankfully, very little of that weave was broken as the new millennium dawned.

    But as Thomas Barnett put it in his first book, The Pentagon’s New Map:

    Whether Y2K turned out to be nothing or a complete disaster was less important, research-wise, than the thinking we pursued as we tried to imagine -– in advance -– what a terrible shock to the system would do to the United States and the world in this day and age.

    Viewing the world as an integral, interconnected whole, illuminated by our various preparations for whatever eventualities might arise, stuck with me. And my take-away was the idea of a world-map that represented as widely and richly as possible the tugs and tensions, the causalities and probabilities, the chains of command and channels of distribution that are present in our world — a pragmatist’s equivalent, if you like, to the Buddhist Net of Indra.

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    Our mandate [at The Arlington Institute] was to understand potential social fall-out of the Y2K computer event and related millennial events. Essentially, this was a dry run for failures in the intricately cross-connected world we now inhabit, and even thought Y2K was a “non-event” in terms of computer disruptions, it was an education for those of us who tracked it.

    In that spirit, a few years ago, I wrote:

    The world is woven of many different processes: causality and synchrony perhaps each play a role in determining the moment, qualitative and quantitaive, head and heart concerns all have their role, fear and hope impact stock prices, movement (e-motion) in the inner world triggering movement (motion) in the the outer, rumors of wars becoming blacks ops in the wars they mimic, with the Cartesian mind / matter barrier no less than the barriers between our disciplines falling… and in all this shuttling to and fro of the looms of the Moirae, humans find themselves making models and diagrams to understand and explain…

    My point is that that our systems diagrams, flow charts, maps, conceptual networks, semantic graphs, HipBone Games and so forth are not isolated entities but family members, and that at some point we may wish or need to be able to link one of the diagram types above with others into a master-diagram, for which we currently lack a graphical language. [ … ]

    I think we should at the very least be thinking about how these various diagrams intersect, overlap and breed offspring after their own kind..

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    This project — an actual world-map of this kind — is hopelessly utopian, impossible, needed, encyclopedic like Wikipedia, a secular bead game in its own right, and in general probably best left as a Hilbert-like challenge for future generations to gnaw at..

    Next post: a few examples of examples of graph-types that should be included.

    Sceenius: the macro in micro, Nepal, anyone?

    Monday, February 8th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — an interesting research angle to keep an eye on? ]
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    I haven’t explored my friend John Kellden‘s project, Sceenius, yet, but thought some Zenpundit readers might be interested in the suggestion by his colleague Ron Scroggin that accomnpanies this diagram:

    Crystal ball Nepal: How do we design the future?

    Nepal-culture-by-altitude

    The current tension between the world’s momentum and its inertia is playing itself out in Nepal’s ancient cultural landscape, revealed in interacting social, economic and geographical forms, which include some of the worlds lowest, and its highest features. What is happening in the world is happening in Nepal.

    Small in geographical area, Nepal’s spectacular landscape rises from 194 ft elevation in the tropical Terai to 22,966 ft, at the summit of Sagarmatha (Mt Everest), where arctic weather conditions prevail. Its timescape spans the worlds of the ancient nomadic culture of the Raute people in western Nepal, and of the jet-age culture of capital city Kathmandu.

    Nepal’s extremes in many dimensions make it a highly readable barometer of life’s conditions. The people, divided by caste, religion, ethnicity, and politics are stitched together in a social quilt which mirrors the country’s radically exaggerated terrain, weather, and ecosystem.

    Nepal is therefore a crystal ball into which we can project the world’s social, organizational and political conditions, and see there the jobs, pains and potential gains they entail, reflected in exaggerated relief.

    If you find that idea interesting — and any opportunity to study organic, high-dimensional “model worlds” seems worth checking out to me — the whole piece is worth reading, and maybe you’ll want to check in with Kellden, Scroggin and the Sceenarius team.

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    More on world-modeling coming up.


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