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Only The Men Have Memory by Patrick Davison October 15th, 2008 Delicious

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Only the Men Have Memory: a narrative info-graphic

To read the diagram, it's easiest to follow individual lines of connection. Every "wire" in the piece starts from a battery, or a motivation, and passes through some character and some other set of switches and resistors before making its way back to the same battery, but this time to the other side: the payoff. Reading it this way, you can track the individuals' activities and relationships. The neighborhood is filled with sexual promiscuity, given that was my first premise, but if you look closely, there's also a murder mystery. Well. At least a few murders:

I made this diagram in 2005, when I was, I think, a junior in college. Originally, I thought it would be cute to compare sexual activity to the electrical input and output of circuitry components. The first thing I made was a small diagram of a lonely dude hooked up to a battery of arousal, a pornography switch, and a small light-emitting diode of masturbation. That arrangement was a bit cynical, and I also hate to think about what it implies about me.

I realized afterward that the metaphor of sex and electricity could be extended into a larger conceit. I could represent a lot of different relationships and actions by using schematics. Jobs, activities, friendships—almost anything. So, after a few experiments, I came up with this larger diagram of a neighborhood. I originally intended it to be printed out as a poster, but seeing it on the web's not too bad, either.

When people first saw it, I told them that the complexity was kind of the point, and I'd be happy if different people walked away with different impressions about what was going on. I wonder now if that was a way of excusing something that isn't entirely accessible.