The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

Byline: Bay-Delta BioRegion

The first time I read this, I thought it seemed too cute:

So my suggestion about where to write would be: select a bioregion as your patch. A bioregion is defined by the interconnectedness, and the interdependence, of its natural systems. It’s an ideal context in which to explore what co-dependency with one’s place can mean for people.

Many bylines these days describe a story’s writer as “London-based,” or “Tokyo-based.” My reaction is to think: So? Imagine how different it would be to describe yourself as a “Central Valley BioRegion–based writer” if you’re from that part of California; or a Hudson River Watershed–based writer, if you’re located in that part of upstate New York.

In Norway you could be a writer based in the Caledonian Buckling. Me? I’m a writer based in the “Steppic BioRegion” (formerly known as Occitania, or southwest France).

But then I read it again and decided I really liked it. (Cross-reference with Kevin Kelly’s Big Here quiz, which I guarantee will put you in your place.)

And there’s actually a ton of interesting, counterintuitive stuff in the piece, which is an adaptation of a speech by John Thackara. He manages to talk about, erm, the collapse of civilization without being apocalyptic—no mean feat.


Nine Chinas

This is terrific: a colorful little map that breaks China down into nine distinct regions. Probably a bit too concise for real China experts, but I found the shorthand revelatory and useful.

And here, the map’s creator slots the regions one-by-one into a list of the world’s most populous countries. Man that is a lot of people.

Here’s the North American analogue for all of Snarkmarket’s Chinese readers! “Ecotopia”—talk about shorthand—but I love it.

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Time, space, and warehouse robots

Alexis Madrigal has a great piece about warehouse robots over at Wired Science. Here’s a nuance I would not have predicted:

The system adjusts to the nature of the products and workers, too. In a typical [robot warehouse], the humans are placed around the edges of the room. As the robots pick up loads of products and put them back, they adjust the warehouse for greater efficiency. More popular products end up around the edges of the warehouse while more obscure products, like those acid-washed bell bottoms, end up buried deep in the stacks. The self-tuning nature of the system creates big efficiencies.

How cool is that? The warehouse adapts. The physical space becomes a map of the underlying cost of time—which isn’t just about raw distance in this case, but about repetition, too.

I realize this sort of mapping exists elsewhere; I just can’t think of anywhere else where it’s so flexible. For instance, I’m thinking about this view of London that paints both housing cost (in dollars) and travel cost (in minutes) onto the map. Now if only bits of the city could scoot around on robot wheels and rearrange themselves for maximum efficiency…

See also: Matt Jones’ recent talk on time as a material that can be manipulated and designed.

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