Sunday, February 21, 2016


Where do ideas come from? Where do they go when they are gone?

Friends laid to rest Harper Lee in Alabama this week. Wayne Flint gave the eulogy that Lee requested - "Atticus inside ourselves" - based on 2006 racial justice tribute to Lee at Birmingham Pledge Foundation (YouTube). If a reader has text of those remarks, as an American, I would be grateful to read them. Lee's Monroe County - adjacent Creole Louisiana - bleeds about as far south as you can go in North America without slipping into the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Basin and West Indian triangular trade currents carrying trans-Atlantic African-American crimes against humanity.

For followup: map attribution. Complete TinEye reverse image lookup. Slate animation (2015). Transatlantic Slave Trade Database (home)
My father is an attorney. When I was young and first read TKAM I thought he was Atticus Finch. Or, at least that it was his job to be Atticus Finch. America and I could be more like them. I daydreamed through CliffNotes in sophomore English. Today I make maps TPAB. Maps as geopolitical art, science, signals, business, documentation, and culture.

Murder Accountability

Where on/in the grids are the most dynamic spaces? The frontiers, estuaries, "borderlands", crossroads, oases, bazaars, river valleys, hostels, cities, interdisciplinary seminars, interactive labs, studios, confluences, vibrant ecologies and economies. How do we safely unlock energy? Promote growth, justice, life, and liberty? Where are the places that deny these rights and privileges? Where are what stories?

Transatlantic Slave Trade Database (home)

It's not enough to celebrate our differences. Crip/Blood, Red/Blue, Republican/Democrat are different but grossly inadequate for billions of people to express themselves. Just two choices? They are mental models so misleading they are ~false. The American political spectrum is richer, itself more vibrant than Red/Blue. DNA is more expressive than that. It's not just okay that we're richly different. Diverse. It's great. It's essential. It's stable. It's robust. It's beautiful. It's (more) true.

2012 county-level USA Presidential election on a red/blue color spectrum, rather than red/blue binary color codes. Mark Newman, Complex Systems, Michigan (source)

But maps are not the territory. Not the people. Maps are damn lies. Like statistics. They are (necessarily) incorrect. Politically. Statistically, they have margins of error, have hidden sampling biases, and should be salted. Visually, they encourage false precision and sweeping, necessarily untrue generalizations. But if they promote American life, please redeem their lies.

American Nations Series 

Map: Financial Times (Jan 2014). Separately: US Geological Survey of Caribbean plate (pdf). Following unreported/underreported Saudi Arabian oil refinery project via Secretary Clinton's State Department circa 2010 (details).
TPAB: Aspect flipped, colors inverted. Source: Mark Newman, Complex Systems, Michigan (source)

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