by Max Barry

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Regional Maps

by Eluvatar
Sun, 02 Apr 2023

The World Assembly welcomes you to a world illuminated... by maps!

We outsource the creation of these maps to the many nations of the world. It's a two-step process.

Before we are even involved, the nation's best artistic resources are summoned to create an image file which represents them and their neighbors, friends, or enemies, each with a unique color. They may also paint part of the map two other colors: one designated for future nation designation (we can call it "land"), and one that is not ("sea").

Once the nation's leadership decides, they can create a Map Version. If they were inspired by the work of another nation, or making revisions to their own previous version, they should make an Update to that Map Version.

Separately, there are officially declared Maps. Unlike a Map Version, a Map has to be associated with a particular region, and only nations in that region will properly show up on it. A map has a "latest version", which may not have the same author nation - as national leaders, you are great enough to accept when someone has improved on your work, and you can update your Map to someone else's version. These maps can be endorsed by nations that are on them.

A nation may endorse only one map. That is the map you officially recognize. If you leave a region or cease to exist, your endorsement of the map is removed. Each endorsement has weight, related to the nation's World Assembly endorsements and influence in the region.

The maps with the most prominent endorsements will be recognized as such by this august instution. Starting with the world''s most-supported map:

Most Heavily Supported Map: The North Pacific

This is the map of The North Pacific created by Meadowfields . It has 134,554 estimated diplomatic weight behind it, the most in the world. It is one of 2174 maps in the world.

If you have confidence in your nation's artist, it might be good to begin the process by visiting the map drafting area.

While interns and administrators at the World Assembly Headquarters have labored day, night, and midnight to release these new informational graphics, there may yet be glitches or obvious improvements to be made. Please point them out in the Regional Maps Technical Discussion.

The most-supported maps at the end of this first week will surely deserve to be remembered.

Unimaginable News

by Max Barry
Sun, 02 Apr 2023

One morning, a new intern, let's call him Igor, trotted up the marble steps of the World Assembly. Igor's shoes were brightly polished and his hair was combed real neat, because this was Igor's first day, and he wanted to make a good impression. Like all World Assembly interns, Igor had beaten out hundreds of hopeful candidates for the job, and he was desperate to prove himself and to bring honor to his home nation, an 80 million pop Inoffensive Centrist Democracy in a rarely noticed and never-featured regional backwater.

Igor's shoes squeaked as he crossed the great floor to the World Assembly front desk. "Thirteenth door to the right," said a man, without making eye contact. "Inductions."

Inductions was a great hall filled with other interns. "Take a randomly selected seat," rasped the Administrator, a very old woman with the subtle but distinctive ear markings of a vat clone. Igor found himself seated beside a dark-eyed girl with the effortless self-assured grace of a resident of a much more popular region, and found himself sneaking glances at her.

"Before we begin," the Administrator announced, "I will remind you of the first, and, in some ways, most important tenet of the World Assembly."

"Objectivity," whispered the dark-eyed girl beside Igor.

"Objectivity," said the Administrator. "You may have come here with opinions, regional customs, or religious beliefs. Leave them all at the door. Only the most objective belong here at World Assembly Data Synthesis & Presentation."

The girl nodded emphatically. Igor, an occasional follower of a deity that was technically illegal in several nations, including his own, decided to keep his beliefs to himself.

"Some of you undoubtedly harbor..." The Administrator's lip curled. "New ideas. Wild dreams of new methods of data presentation. Forget it. In ten years, perhaps, or twenty, you may be ready to produce such a thing."

"I'm going to have a new idea one day," Igor murmured. The dark-eyed girl glanced at him, and he blushed.

"Marp," said the girl, adding: "That's my name. I'm Marp."

"Igor," he said quickly, and she smiled.

When the lecture concluded, the interns were given a simple data location task: to look up the fourteen millionth data point on Beverage Sales in a nation that had ceased to exist long ago. As the interns scattered to various terminals, Igor seized Marp's hand. "It's a trick," he said. "An Antiquity nation? That data will only be found in the Basement."

Entering the Basement required an elevator ride and a short ruse involving Marp posing as a lost tourist. Once inside, the pair split up to search the labyrinth, and Igor found the file in question jammed underneath a huge broken stone disk. He pulled, but the disk was too heavy: the file didn't budge.

Igor set his feet and tugged again. He grit his teeth and closed his eyes. When that failed, he even invoked the power of several deities under his breath, including the one that was technically illegal. The file budged, just enough to make him redouble his efforts.

"May ______ guide me!" he cried, using the name of the technically illegal deity.

There was a gasp from behind him. He turned to see Marp, wide-eyed with shock, her hands flying to her ears too late to block out the sound of his blasphemy. Then she turned and fled.

Losing his grip on the file, Igor fell backwards into a pile of boxes, which toppled and spilled dusty files across him. He stared miserably at his polished shoes. He had failed. He would surely be expelled, a disgrace to his nation.

Then he noticed the blue file in his lap.

Two words were scrawled across it: one began with U and the other with N, but what caught his eye was the flag below them: a kind of graphic he'd never seen before. Transfixed, Igor opened the file. Inside were documents, hundreds of them, more than 240 although probably not quite 245, as well as legal agreements, and what appeared to be a hand-written version of General Assembly Resolution #1, the legal framework that set out the scope and purpose of the World Assembly itself.

Igor had seen similar records before, of course, but sanitized for public view. They didn't have the two words, the ones that began with the U and the N, nor the strange flag.

"There!" cried Marp. "There's the one who brought culture-specific beliefs into the World Assembly!"

The Administrator tottered toward him, her face dark with fury. "In all my time--"

Igor, scrambling to his feet, thrust forward the file. "Look! Look at the flag!"

He watched her face change. "What is this? It's almost..."

"As if we're high above a region, looking down," Igor said. "We can see how all the nations relate to one another, geographically."

The Administrator took the file with shaking hands.

"It's a new way of data visualization," Igor said. "We could call them... Marps."

Marp's eyes widened.

The Administrator slowly nodded. "I don't love the name," she said. "But you may have something."