Sunday, November 14, 2010

Forensic Geography: A Town's Present, A River's Past

While I was checking my hometown in Google Earth, I found a nearby small town established near a river. From these structures and buildings you can actually see how they had developed their settlement based on the river meander.

A meander is just a bend formed in the course of a river. It starts out from a straight course a river naturally follows. Then a small bend develops and it becomes more and more curved until it forms a curved U-shaped meander.

In the Google Earth images, you will notice that the town is mosly built on the side of the river. But there are some sites where the structures are built along a line a few distances away from the riverside. One can just assume that the river was previously located on this line and began meandering to the current location.

The bulk of the structures are built on the outer side of the meander. The area in the inner curve is devoid of many structures as these land masses were formed later.

It seems that one can speculate the geography of a place in the past by looking at the formation of structures at that same location in the present. Forensic Geography if you may.

(Images courtesy of Google Earth)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Life and Death and the Internets

Just some interesting articles I found at

Death, Facebook and Cognitive Dissonance

"Our rituals of grief have developed over centuries - social networking has been an invention of the past few years. How do we reconcile our ancient traditions with the brash technology of today?"

Mortality and the Obsessive Internet Poster

"The man had only an iPod and a set of keys on him, no wallet, and he was in fact identified via his iPod. Which is a whole other commentary on mortality and the march of technology. But our concern today is with another new Internet issue: what happens when an obsessive Internet poster dies?"

Life, Love and MMO's

"You get all your gear together, sharpen your sword, and set off to meet your friends to finally slay the dragon. Once together you formulate a strategy, she will die this time, and all the glory and bragging rights will be yours. Everyone knows his or her positions, and the plan is set into motion. Ding..."Whatcha doin' cutie?" reads the private message window...

Welcome to the world of the MMO."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Traversing a Multi-Level City

Coming fresh from a vacation on a city built atop a mountain and amidst rolling hills, one would realize that the elevation adds another dimension to various aspects of city-living. The city, that is Baguio, is built within the uneven terrain of the Cordillera Central mountain range in northern Luzon.

As one travels by wheels, (with a private vehicle or a taxi commute), the 'other dimension' almost immediately comes into play the moment the vehicle starts to roll. The driver would soon encounter decision-making forks on the road. But instead of the flat perspective of a lowland city, one needs to think an additional axis. A taxi does not just go left or right on an intersection. At times, the taxi would need to go up or down. One may even need to consider whether you should turn to the upper left road or to the lower right curve.

Thus, touring the city would have to be planned in detail firsthand. Since going upward would cost more (more time, energy, gas) it is very much advisable to plan your tour to follow the natural downward contour of the city.

On a more serious note, the planning of city infrastructures would need much thinking. Hospitals would need to be located on lower parts of the city so that upper dwellers would reach it faster. On the other hand, Fire stations and Police stations should be located on the higher part, so that they can easily reach those calling for help.

The general rule should be that the origin points should be located on higher areas; while the destinations should be on lower parts. This can be applied even to business ventures such as deliveries, storage rooms, water distribution systems etc.

This is a good example of how the geography of the land shapes the society and the people's lifestyle.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

21st Century Electioneering

The implementation of the automated elections on May 2010 has prompted the rise of a new breed of electioneers in the Philippine scene. A new bloodline now follows the path where there were once dagdag-bawas agents, vote-buyers and other lowlife species who manipulate the ballot for the benefit of their political candidate.

As the election process itself becomes more efficient, the behind-the-scenes machinations become more and more complicated and more technical. At the dawn of the Information Age, the electioneers level-up just as well and employ more technical methods in their efforts.

The Poll Jammers

The automated polls may utilize radio signals to transmit poll results. Many groups will take advantage of this fact. There are now reports that some 5,000 signal jammers have been smuggled into the country. These jammers can disrupt the transmission of signals from the automated machines to the supposed receivers. One immediate effect is the delay and confusion that will be created by such disruption. Some speculate that this "may be part of a bigger play to manipulate the results of the May 10 elections."

The Source Code Filibusters

The Comelec will be opening up the source code of the election machines to various interested groups for review. This is to make sure that the software does not run in a way that is biased to one candidate or another. As early as now, there have been many concerns from different institutions; some saying the software should be inspected by a third-party organization, some doubting the credibility of the reviewing group etc. In this matter, an interest group can employ a software specialist to question the correctness of the source code itself. Hence, if a candidate loses, she will not say anymore that she was cheated. Backed-up by experts, she can instead say that the source code is flawed.

These are just some of the changes that the upgrade of the system can bring about. One can even speculate farther on the other consequences: emergence of Source Code Debaters or establishment of Anti-jammer Corps. Things could just become more and more complicated.

News Sources:
Jammers may be part of bigger plot to foil polls
Election source code is open to public


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