This post is an updated version of one originally published in 2010.
Skipping through a set of images of North Korea by photographers David Guttenfelder and Vincent Yu, I was reminded that the city is almost entirely devoid of advertising. There is political propaganda everywhere, of course, but there is an overwhelming absence of the marketing for products characteristic of capitalist societies. All of the print and electronic media is under state control, and the state administers and controls the economy as well. Accordingly… there is almost no advertising. The images in the slide show give us a peak into this world without ads:
Katrin sent us a link to a image at GOOD that illustrates the geopolitics of first-person shooter video games. The image was created by a group at Complex to illustrate the way that the changing actual political landscape can be seen in the nationality of villains in video games. Peter Rubin, of Complex, explains, “Gone are the days of all FPSes being either World War II or sci-fi; in the new milennium, developers are on the hunt for enemies that are speculative but still plausible.”
They looked at 20 FPS games from the past decade (unfortunately, they give no details about how those 20 games were chosen
The selected titles:
Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001): Germany Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Desert Siege (2002): Ethiopia Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Island Thunder (2003): Cuba Delta Force: Black Hawk Down (2003): Somalia Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm (2004): Colombia Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2 (2004): North Korea Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising (2004): Indonesia Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike (2005): Afghanistan Delta Force Xtreme (2005): Chad Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (2006): Mexico Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007): Russia/Afghanistan Army of Two (2008): Somalia/Afghanistan/China/Iraq Frontlines: Fuel of War (2008): Russia/China Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009): Russia/Afghanistan/Brazil Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (2009): China/Russia Singularity (2010): Russia MAG (2010): Russia/China/India Army of Two: The 40th Day (2010): China Homefront (2011): Korea (They don’t specify if it’s North or South Korea) Operation Flashpoint: Red River (2011): China
Anyway, it provides a nice little illustration of the way that global politics seeps into this element of pop culture, as well as a snapshot of nations currently perceived as rivals or even enemies of the U.S. — a mixture of old tensions (Russia, Germany), ongoing anxiety about China, and emerging focal points.
Dimitriy T.M. and Keith Marszalek sent in a video by Isao Hashimoto, posted at Wired. The video, titled 1945-1998, shows the location of all known nuclear tests during that period, as well as the nation conducting the tests. It starts off slowly (with the U.S. test during World War II and the two bombs dropped on Japan), and the U.S. has a monopoly on nuclear weapons for several years. By the early 1950s the number of tests starts to increase and the U.K. and Soviet Union start testing. By the late 1’50s and through the ’80s, the flashes indicating tests (with different sound effects to indicate different nation) are pretty much constant, and then drop off quite a lot by the ’90s.
The Wired article points out that there have been two more nuclear tests since 1998 (when the video ends), both by North Korea.
Broken down by type of test; since 1963 almost all testing has been underground:
They also have an interactive map that includes information such as who has signed the test-ban treaty, where tests have occurred, and locations of facilities under the international monitoring system. Here’s a map showing the status of the test-ban treaty; green nations have ratified it, light blue ones have signed but not ratified it, and red ones haven’t signed it (sorry I couldn’t quite fit the whole map on my screen at once, so the screenshot cuts off some areas):
This image, found at International Networks, depicts the globe at night. The areas bathed in electricity reveal “the global spread of industrialization, as evidenced by the lights of human civilization”:
I think it’s interesting to compare this image with a world population map (link):
At first the two maps seem to overlap pretty nicely, but if you look closely there are plenty of interesting discrepancies, especially in Africa.
Thanks to Toban B. for the link that got me to the graphic that inspired this post.
NEW (Apr. ’10)! In the comments, Brendon linked to this great image of the Korean peninsula at night that reveals an amazing difference between North and South Korea: