Tag Archives: map

Some More Core-Periphary Maps

Those who’ve been reading my blog for a long time may remember one of my more popular posts comparing the Firefox 3 Pledge Map (locations of downloads of Firefox 3 back in June 2008) versus Thomas Barnett’s Map (published in The Pentagon’s New Map – his blog here).


firefox PNM mash up 2

A little while back a friend shared with me a new map, called The Walled World, that she’d found over at The Raw Feed (a great site, BTW) which offers a similar perspective… but with clearly delineated walls that show who is being kept out of which parts of the world.


All three maps continue reasonate with me. The first offers us a stategic overlay. Which countries are powers/maintainers of the international system – which places are seeking to radical alter it, or cannot seem to become part of the core.

The second shows the virtual implications of that gap. Here, the gap between core and periphery is made starkly clear in technology use.

The final shows the physical manifestation of the gap. A stark reminder of the fences we build and the enormous sums of money and energy poured into keeping certain people out.

As a final note, I do think the third map is slightly misleading. As disturbing as it is, it is actually far, far too flattering to many traditional western powers as it continues to place them at the “centre.” In a world where the United States appears to be in decline this type of map makes China, Brazil, India and Russia (and even South Africa) look like non entities. Nothing could be further from the truth.

An International Baccalaureate Growth Strategy

I recently ran into a teacher from my high school who has been active in the advancement and growth of the International Baccalaureate program (IB). I participated in the IB program – as a certificate, not a diploma candidate – I believe it was a great experience. The program was demanding and interesting.  Equally important, it helped prepare me more effectively for university.

The encounter – and the conversation – got me thinking about how IB should plan its expansion. Clearly one option is that it could expand in a uniform manner – pitching itself to districts in a more or less uniform manner. This is not their approach, and nor should it be. The fact is, some places in North America are going to be more receptive to IB than others. One option would be concentrating resources in places where the ground is most fertile and where success more readily achievable. In its strategic plan however, IB makes it clear that it does not want to only serve an educated elite. Consequentially I would advocate for a two pronged approach. One strategy for places where IB is going to be a relatively easy sell. Another for more hostile environments, where attitudes and resources will be harder to mobilize or change.

The only question remains. How to identify the two regions?

The answer, I believe, could reside in Richard Florida’s creative class maps.

If I were to imagine the type of parent interested in IB, it is likely one that believes in science, wants what is best for their child, has a broad, generally progressive, outlook on the world. They are probably interested in AP, but are even keener on something better. In short, present day IB kids are creative class kids. Their parents recognize the value of a strong education, and can generally afford the extra taxes currently necessary to subsidize such an education. Fortunately, Florida has mapped where the creative class lives in the United States. These maps are essentially demarcate the dividing line between areas that will be receptive and areas that will be more challenging for IB to establish itself. In short, IB should devise a “creative class” strategy and an “elsewhere” strategy. The two areas are likely very different in the questions that will need to be addressed, the allies located and mobilized, and the resources that will need to be marshaled.

(note: apparently IB is big in Texas, something that initially surprised me, but a look at this map suggests that, depending on where the IB schools are located, Texas is indeed fertile ground.)

Internationally, I might use Florida’s spiky world maps such as the one below which denotes patents per 10,000 people by region. The higher the spike, the greater the number of patents and the places where IB can most likely adopt it’s creative class strategy. The valley’s will probably require a different approach.

It would be fascinating to cross reference IB programs against these maps. I suspect there is already a high degree of correlation. Perhaps I’ll ask if they have any maps…

The New World Order: Flat, Spiky or Divided?

Just started Who’s Your City by Richard Florida out of personal interest but also to better figure out why it is the Vancouver sometimes works, and sometimes really doesn’t work. Figuring out that puzzle, and doing something is part of the reason I joined Vision (and yes, I’m still recovering from the victory celebrations).

I’m already sensing a convergence between Florida and some of my other favourite authors – namely Friedman (who Florida references) and Thomas Barnett (author of The Pentagon’s New Map among other books).

All three are noticing the same thing, and are even writing along similar veins, but there remain important distinctions, with important policy implications.

Flat: Friedman (whom I’m least familiar with) says the world is flat, that innovation, industry, commerce, etc… can now happen anywhere, so we have to prepare for a flat world. Here, I’d argue the core unit of analysis is the individual. We are all free agents, able to do anything or be anything, so we’re going increasingly going to start doing it anywhere. Yes, Friedman believes that governments and industry have massively important roles, but he ultimately sees a world where any place can become a place where people can prosper. If they agitate for it and build it.

Spiky: Florida’s analysis is that world is quite spiky, dominated by a set of mega-regions and super-cities where the bulk of the economic activity and culture is produced. These hubs are connected to one another and largely uncaring of the enormous economic valleys that separate them. For Florida, the fundamental unit of analysis is the city (or mega-region). These determine where power and influence will flow. Importantly, mega-regions cannot be constructed overnight – indeed there is a powerful self-reinforcing mechanism at work. Mega-regions attract talent from around the world, both further increasing their status and starving smaller cities and regions of the key resource – social capital – they need to grow. Individuals are important – but only in so far as they cluster. Countries are important too – in the Friedman sense that they create a generally favourable atmosphere – but they are not critical to the equation.

Divided: Barnett sees a divided world. One on the one side is the Functioning Core, characterized by economic interdependence and incentives to abide by rules, one the other is the Non-Integrated Gap characterized by unstable leadership and absence of international trade and weaker incentives to abide by international rule sets. Barnett’s primary unit of analysis is the state. He is principally concerned with the impact of globalization (and the rule-sets it creates) on state actors – how it constrains them and incents them to behave certain ways. In this world citizens are influence, but it is connectivity, largely (but hardly completely) determined by the state that matters most. Convince a state to connect with the world, and it’s path towards free market democracy (or some close variant) is predetermined.

I had so much fun mashing up the Firefox download map with Barnett’s map (and had an incredible response) I thought I’d try to do the same again but with these three authors. Below is a Flat World, overlaid with Spiky depiction of where the most innovation (patents) occurs, overlaid with Barnett’s division between the Function Core and the Non-Integrated Gap. Hoping to write more about these three views of the world over the coming weeks.

What’s interesting about the map’s below is that Barnett and Florida correlate quite nicely. And while they are complimentary I think it Florida’s reinforces the best critique of Barnett’s map I’ve read to date:

“Connectedness is a network property and networks are fractal not contiguous. There is no contiguous region that is disconnected. Within each disconnected country there are islands of connection and within each connected country there are islands of disconnection. This is true at all levels, continents, nations, regions, cities, and companies, right down to individuals. There are terrorist cells in US cities fighting to disconnect the world and Journalists with satellite cell phones in remotest Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia working to connect everything.”

I’m willing to bet almost anything that Florida’s maps follow a power law distribution. And the above description – well in Florida’s map there are valleys of non-innovation and non-connectivity within Barnett’s Core. The question is: Can the Mega-Regions assert enough control over these values to ensure their rule-sets are followed?

Innovation (# of patents)

Flat spiky and divided

Connectivity (Light Based Regional Product per Square Kilometer)

Flat spiky and divided (econ)


so dave, what do you do? (or my life, on a powerpoint slide)

So more than once people have asked me what I do… and sadly the answer is never easy. All the titles I’ve heard feel a little overwhelming, mostly because I don’t think I’ve done enough to earn any of them: public policy entrepreneur, public thinker, writer… Indeed, I most often use negotiation consultant and public policy analyst – but these fail to capture the threads of ideas that I’m attempting to weave together.

Herein lies the main challenge. Because I have picked up a number of diverse threads, my life sometimes looks scattered. (Admittedly, occasionally it is). But I see the connections between these disparate areas and I draw strength and ideas from the connections between them. Consequently, I need to do better at explain these connections, and why the matter, to others.

In pursuit of this goal I’ve created a map of my (work) life. Outlined are the three main themes I focus on and then, to show how my activities map against them I’ve listed a) some of the issues I tackle, b) the organizations I work with, for or sit on the advisory boards of, and c) some conferences where I give talks. Some stuff may be missing (indeed, if you see something please send me an email or comment below).

Better, I hope this might inspire you to map your own life. If it does please let me know, I’d love to see it and link to it.

At the very minimum, I hope this leaves you understanding me better.
note: you can click on the image to make it bigger