Where does our stuff come from and what impact does that have on the planet? This is the basic premise to a new open source project called Sourcemap which allows users to trace the supply chain for all the products (and their components) they use in their daily lives. It’s worth watching this video to see how it works:
You can search for the components that go to make up certain products, locate their manufacturing point, and then add them to a map which visualises the entire supply chain of that product. The ‘receipt’ summarises the carbon emissions and energy used in manufacture and transport of the product from initial source to final destination. Each component description can also include photos, videos and text.
This is a dynamic project which is in complete contrast to the rather static project being conducted by the BBC on their news site. Called The Box, it involves the BBC tracking a container around the world for a year with updates on a live map as well as videos and photos posted by the BBC and by readers (photo below from Alastair Blackwood).
What makes Sourcemap a better project, in my opinion, is that it is based on open source data collection and collaboration. Some may see the source material as less trustworthy than that from the BBC, but I think despite this it is a much more successful use of online media. It’s collaborative aspect is just the thing that the big media giants are hopelessly behind in harnessing.
Sourcemap also allows users to create their own travel maps, which would be just the thing if you were like Ed Gillespie from Futerra. In 2007 he and his partner travelled the world without flying and instead savouring the benefits of slow travel. You can read about it on their blog.
Thanks to Visual Complexity for the initial tip off on Sourcemap.