Sentinel II too, or How I learned to stop worrying and love icm

Posted on Nov 6, 2013 in Computational Media
Sentinel II too, or How I learned to stop worrying and love icm

Messy, yes.  Incomplete, certainly. Totally ridiculous, absolutely.

So I’ve got a bunch of original, 1950’s civil defense exercises lying around my computer, just waiting to be inspected and treated to some black humor. What better visualization opportunity will I get than our ICM final? After all this stuff is old, old, old school gaming (a decade + in advance of atari arcade games). And it seems like a perfect way to push beyond simple maps or sliders and really embrace fuller ‘dashboards’ with greater interaction and dynamic re-writing of tables/outcomes based on user input. Below are a few slides (a bit empty since I intend to talk over their archival snapshots  and I hate reading bullets). Anyways, here’s a quick sketch (non-processing) of the past (1957) to come: (pdf download here)



[Packet for impact/target areas, blast radii, assumption of strike timing and initial mortality, general food problem statement]




[sample of food processors for Region 2 (Rustbelt and DC)- focus on Youngstown, OH as test case]


[They’ve got tons of county-based data: from death tolls and radiation sickness to available, non-fallout wheat supplies and caloric recommendations.

My tasks lies in mocking up zero-sum/flows graphs, timeline series based on their fallout thresholds, and being able to mock-up the city total and a single survivor/family diet as it evolved aside deaths/radiation die-off. Once those basic pictures are together, I can pick out a few really flawed assumptions (like functional road and water infrastructure or even fallout coverage and frozen storage capabilities post power-grid) and write a few equations to imagine their impact on the other inputs. Let a user pick one or two and see what new tables/material flows we get for our poor Herman-Kahn, Mutually Assured Destruction scenario.


Basically, unless you want ascii weather charts, most of the era’s graphics are very larger scale gestures. And, since civil defense was more or less a deliberate distraction, the poor presentation didn’t bother anyone.


But that doesn’t mean all that military-industrial-social science expertise didn’t trickle down… so why not unpack those bizarre assumption and make a better visualization of civil defense?


See above. Everything but the old IBM punch card decks…


*Because really, what if there is a mine-shaft gap?