Sourcemap: Slick App for Tracking the Supply Chain for Your Laptop (or Tuna or Nutella)

By Sarah Zhang | May 3, 2012 8:14 am

spacing is important

If you’ve ever wondered where all the parts in your laptop came from, take a second to look at this map—or maybe a few minutes, because it is a dense, complicated web. Sourcemap, which has its origins in MIT Media Lab, is a new open source website for mapping global supply chains and carbon footprints. There are also Sourcemaps for Chicken of the Sea’s tuna and Nutella among others.

Although the site seems to have been conceived as a way of keeping track of modern corporations, some of the most intriguing maps are historical ones. Take this supply chain for Western Electric’s candlestick telephones from 1927 or this overview of international trade in 19th century London. The beauty of open source projects is that they can go off in unexpected and delightful directions.

But as Ariel Schwartz at Fast Company has pointed out, Sourcemap also suffers from that plague of open source sites, quality control. Go to the browse tab, and you’ll immediately be finding yourself among maps titled “Test 123,” “farting robot,” or “My stuff.” Hopefully, Sourcemap will come up with way of rating and verifying the quality of maps, so that the cream rises to the top.

Meanwhile, watch a demo of the interactive maps below or head over to Sourcemap to play (and create) maps yourself.

Image via Sourcemap


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.

See More

Collapse bottom bar