Chuck Spinney: Cartographic Games Divorced from Reality – Daniel Neep on The Middle Eastern Example

Geospatial, IO Deeds of War, IO Impotency, IO Mapping
Chuck Spinney
Chuck Spinney

Below is a brilliant essay that shows how cartographic hallucinogenics can capture one’s Orientation and create an incestuously amplifying* decision cycle that disconnects a “policy” maker from real world. * Note to new readers: For an explanation of how “incestuous amplification” operates to disconnect a decision maker from the exigencies of the real world read my essay, Incestuous Amplification and the Madness of King George.


Daniel Neep, discoversociety, January 03, 2015, Issue 16


To propose that ‘natural states’ should replace the ‘artificial states’ created by the ‘Sykes-Picot’ settlement in the Middle East is (as hinted at by all six scare quotes) misconceived from the very beginning. Remapping the Middle East is no more than a fantasy concocted from a phantasm, an illusion distilled from the fragments of a half-remembered dream. The meaning of these fictive maps is, much like the meaning of a dream, hopelessly over-determined: they symbolize imperial self-delusion, social engineering, the will-to-power, political techno-fetishism, Utopian yearning, messianic promise – all this, and much more. The potency of the map is such that it stimulates the full scale, sensory range, and ambition of our political imagination. Yet, despite the promise of cartographic solutions to the political problems of the world, they simply prolong the life of the troublesome equation of identity and geography. It is this dangerous equivalence that needs to be unraveled, not the borders of Mr Sykes and Monsieur Picot. In order to overcome the problems of political geography, we must resist the pernicious temptations of the map-pushers and find a way to kick the habit of our cartographic imagination.

Daniel Neep is assistant professor in political science at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University. He is the author of Occupying Syria under the French Mandate: Insurgency, Space, and State Formation (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Phi Beta Iota: Geospatial data is fundamental in order to accurately relate all other information in time and space. Maps, however — apart from being vital for various forms of height and distance calculation including all important defilade (contour lines) considerations for infantry — are generally “stupid” when it comes to holistic analytics, true cost economics, and open source everything engineering. To make maps — digital maps — “smart” is the challenge of the 21st century geospatial intelligence cadre.

It turns out Google Earth and Keyhole Markup Language that Google took over from Silicon Graphics is only able to process geospatial information. What is needed is a massive distributed sparse matrix in which all information in all languages and all mediums is accessible via map-based visualizations. This is not something the US Government is capable of building or controlling.  What is possible is a series of nested standards including standards for anonymnity, identity, privacy, and security, that allow the creation of the World Brain as envisioned by others and most recently in detail by Robert Steele and the Earth Intelligence Network, a 501c3 committed to creating the Open Source Agency, a World Brain Institute, a Multinational Decision-Support Centre and network, and a School of Future-Oriented Hybrid Governance.

See Especially:

Most Important Publication: Beyond Data Monitoring – Achieving the Sustainability Development Goals Through Intelligence (Decision-Support): Integrating Holistic Analytics, True Cost Economics, and Open Source Everything

Latest Keynote: Ecuadorean Intelligence Community (November 2014)

Latest Article: Applied Collective Intelligence (Spanda Journal, December 2014)

Latest Chapter: Foreword to Stephen E. Arnold’s CyberOSINT: Next Generation Information Access

See Also:

Analytics @ Phi Beta Iota

Geospatial @ Phi Beta Iota

Maps @ Phi Beta Iota

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