Cartography has been always one of the prime tools for control and domination, because of his apparent truthfulness, like media. Those who make a map also decide where the borders lay, what is the name of everything, how to represent other countries, or their own (bigger, greenier), etc.

For this very same reason, cartography has also been used as an activist tool, way before Google Maps was invented, but the recent trend in mapping and data visualization has meant an increment in the use of cartography as a mean to represent reality from a radical stance.

Surveillance camera maps and other countless mashups of economic and geographic data are now joined by Sourcemap. The project taps into the local consumption angle and sustainability that we have covered here before, and wants to show in a map the supply chain for a given product, calculating the carbon footprint of producing and delivering that product.

Sourcemap is a platform that enables users to contribute to and share ideas about sustainability. Whether you are inviting people to an event, buying ingredients for a recipe, or designing a product, your choices have a significant impact. Some decisions have impacts that stretch across the world, whereas others are entirely regional. Understanding the reach of our actions and facilitating positive change is fundamental to improving economic, social, and environmental conditions.

Sourcemap, sponsored by the MIT Medialab is looking for volunteers.

Organization Projects & Ideas

The Buckminster Fuller Idea Index

This website and Revolution Summer have a similar purpose of showcasing projects that may spark social change or resolve pressing issues, like access to water or enviromental pollution by proliferation of combustion engine vehicles. Of course, the difference is that the Buckminster Fuller Idea Index gives a prize of $100.000 to the winner project each year.

The winner of the 2009 edition is this project by MIT researchers that proposes to replace the private owned fossil fuel vehicle traffic inside large cities with a network of battery-powered small vehicles, that can be rented at convenience in racks spread throughout the city, similar to the public bike rental systems in cities like Barcelona or Paris:

Mobility-on-demand systems provide racks of these vehicles at closely spaced, convenient locations around an urban service area. Vehicles automatically recharge while they are in these racks. Users walk to the nearest rack, swipe a credit card, pick up a vehicle, drive it to a rack convenient to their destination, and drop it off. These are, in other words, ubiquitously distributed one-way rental systems. These systems are highly efficient in reducing urban congestion, energy use, and carbon emissions. They are synergistic with ubiquitous wireless networking and distributed intelligence, and with solar-friendly, wind-friendly, fuel-cell-friendly smart electrical grids.