Patterns of Our Footsteps - Global Networks: Is there an Optimal Scale?

January 4th, 2013

At the end of last year, we released a video, created by students from the Professional Communications Program, that focused on one of the CRC research theme of scale, looking specifically at consumption and the economy. We would now like to share this interactive animation of the world’s cities, roads, railways, transmissions lines and underwater cables, prepared using network maps created by Globaïa. Their maps display the scale of the transport and communication lines across the globe, illuminating the interconnectedness and networking of the world’s economy. The extensive communications and transport networks of our world can be both positive and negative. Advantageous in the way that they connect communities with one another and sharing of ideas and innovations, thus increasing community access to diversity and different approaches to community development. However, increasing global networks simultaneously can be negative through carbon emissions produced by transportation networks and distorting local economies through exogenous shocks, in particular local food systems.

Images for the above animation were created by Globaïa, and the original images can be found here. Images for Asia appropriate for the purposes of this animation were not available and thus not included. Some areas at the bottom of the images were obscured in the process of creating the animation.

Another animation relating to scale can be found below, displaying the growth of a large multinational corporation. In such a highly interconnected global economic system, we need to ask ourselves, is there an optimal scale and what systems of governance do we now need to ensure equitable distribution of resources worldwide. How do we reconcile local and global systems, so that they are complimentary and not competitive?

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