Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.


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

80beatsBy Sarah ZhangMay 3, 2012 5:14 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news


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

3 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In