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In an original twist of the concept of "social visualization" brought forward by Many Eyes, Swivel and the like, SourceMap [sourcemap.org] is a mapping tool meant for producers, business owners and consumers to understand the impact of supply chains. In short, the developers believe that "... people have the right to know where things come from and what they are made of". Conceptualized as an online social network, any member is able to contribute to a shared understanding of "the story" behind specific consumer products. For instance, members can simulate the impact of manufacturing, transporting, using and throwing away products using the so-called "Life-Cycle Assessment" calculator. The resulting "SourceMaps" can then be embedded in external websites, printed onto product packaging or linked through QR codes readable by camera phones.

As a result, one can explore the geographical locations of the parts, and their according CO2 footprints, of products like the iPhone, a Clock Radio, an IKEA bed or a pair of Nike shoes.

SourceMap is still seeking volunteers, including "Information Visualization Experts".

Via Treehugger and Visual Complexity.


I'm really excited about this project and the positive implications it may have on the way businesses produce and talk about their products, as well as the way consumers make purchase decisions.

Although it's currently a bit clunky (as it's in Beta), with the right design and UI, this could signal a huge shift in the way that both businesses and consumers think about the products they use and the food they eat.

I've posted more on it here, if you're so inclined: http://bit.ly/buv8R


Sat 14 Nov 2009 at 2:48 AM

For a socio-political theorization of this type of initiative, see also: Yannick Rumpala, “Knowledge and praxis of networks as a political project”, Twenty-First Century Society, Volume 4, Issue 3, November 2009 (an older version of the article is available at: http://yannickrumpala.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/tracing-and-reconfiguring-networks-to-build-a-political-alternative/ ).

Mon 28 Jun 2010 at 12:23 AM
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