Earth sciences and the metaverse

I don’t know why it took me as long as it did to figure out that it’s not really the geospatial layer per se I am interested in, but the multitudes of earth science layers on top of that. Doh. Geospatial is, to my mind, attempting to use technology to see what various aspects of the world looks like, but it’s a bit static. It looks at what is. I want to see what moves, and how they play together, what changes. My current thinking is maybe this is called earth sciences? This means I must revisit everything! Which is fine, I was so stuck that this will be inspiring. 🙂

Some links about using javascript in earth science:

picture for the pretty from I would add water, stormwater, sanitation, transport, emissions, people movement, social maps, etc etc etc infrastructure as layers too. In fact, I would argue that earth sciences and civil infrastructures needs to be much closer, if not merged altogether.

As it often happens, thinking of a new combination of words to do a websearch with brings lots of new avenues, not just in what one has searched but all the rabbitholes that branch out from it. Looking for earth science and metaverse brought up the UN Initiative Playing For The Planet Alliance,, launched in 2019, which aims to inspire the video gaming industry and community to take environmental action to Promote, Protect and Play for the Planet.

I’ve also been thinking about creating a multidisciplnary research group, with the objectives to create:

  • Greater understanding through self-discovery and visualisation of how our actions impact our environment at every scale.
  • A society that is competent at owning, managing and contributing our own data
  • A collection of communities that can manage their resilience locally, appropriately, but also find connection, relevance and motivation, globally.

In the Netflix Explained series, season 3, episode 9, “Hurricanes” the need for more bottom-up decision-making is articulated well:

We just did not have the resources to respond to a disaster. As we started going through this simulation exercise I realised we were treating every person as a victim who was waiting for somebody to come rescue them. But every disaster I’ve ever been into, people aren’t waiting. Neighbours were the fastest response helping neighbours. – Craig Fugate, FEMA, USA

They were coming up with these dramatically innovative ways of dealing with the lack of government support on the ground. – Vann Newkirk, journalist

Government-centric problem-solving is going to fail miserably in these large events. The more we can have neighbours helping neighbours, the better we can focus the limited government resources on the areas that have the greatest need. – Craig Fugate, FEMA, USA

Places that have done the best, during disaster, are the places where we have fostered and nurtured those existing bonds of community. – Vann Newkirk, journalist

However, it looks like the whole “playing for the planet” comes down to planting trees and recycling plastic, which is pretty meh. And talking about local community responses to disaster shouldn’t exactly scream entertainment.

Cory Doctorow to the rescue again with his post that says it needs not be either/or: and

It’s proof of the false dichotomy between excitement and thoughtfulness; between pleasure and sensitivity, and between tradition and novelty.

The new common sense is, at core, a profound liberation of the imagination. It rejects the dogma that says that building public goods is a mystic art lost along with the secrets of the pyramids. We built national parks, Medicare, Medicaid, the public education system, public libraries – bold and ambitious national infrastructure programs.

We did that through democratically accountable, muscular states that weren’t afraid to act. These states understood that the more national capacity the state produced, the more things it could do, by directing that national capacity in times of great urgency. Self-sufficiency isn’t a mere fearful retreat from the world stage – it’s an insurance policy for an uncertain future.

I would add that those states can be digital unions, too.

Cory linked to another project to illustrate this meeting of excitement and thoughtfulness:

The concept of “gold farming” for real money in MMO games, is completely foreign to me, and as a perhaps overly puritan process engineer I struggle to see the utility. This is an important point because I think we lose a lot of opportunities when we scoff at things that are “just for fun” or practically, tertiary service industries. The approach of this “Better Farming” project could be applied to public goods and infrastructure development. “We make software to glue communities together, specially designed to work on global problems. Our community platform helps people to grow communities and make it easier to collaborate on environmental projects in one single place.”

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