Related to MAKE 06, MakeShift
MakeShift 06: Analysis, Commentary, and Winners
by Lee D. Zlotoff
August 25, 2006
Most of you saw this as a pretty straightforward survival scenario, albeit with plenty of real-world applications. Some seemed to think it too easy, but those responses revealed a host of underlying assumptions about how quickly the collective infrastructure would be restored and the limited degree of your isolation (i.e. “we could just walk out”), as if reaching the nearest city—-which was itself in crisis—-was both feasible and would improve your situation, a dubious assumption when considering the safety of your family. But there were ample opportunities in this setup for technically creative as well as social network thinking, which many of you wrestled with ... and then, of course, there was the question of Dave.
The first real question was which of your two cars to save, the Prius or the Suburban. Several of the responses were tempted by the extensive battery pack and generating capabilities of the Prius, though few really figured out a way to employ those effectively for signaling the outside world. And, in the end, most opted for the sheltering values of the Suburban and its utility once the road was cleared enough to get out of the canyon, since it was obvious your house was not going to be habitable even after the water subsided. As for what to grab from the house, nearly everyone covered that well with food, potable water (or bleach to disinfect the stream water), and sufficient clothing, blankets, etc. However, given some of the lists submitted, many had an overly optimistic sense of how much could be collected in 15 minutes from a house filling with water. One of the entries cleverly presumed to just dispense with food collection, lay the fridge down on its back so it would float, leave the house doors open, and fish it out of the submerged structure with a makeshift raft once the family was safe and the water had leveled off. Certainly creative, but risky, since if the icebox got trapped by debris or something else, food would fast become a critical issue.
To my thinking, the real challenge in this scenario was not surviving for the week but coming up with a convincing and persistent method for insuring the outside world would know you were alive and needed help (which is where I imagined the generating possibilities of the Prius might prove really valuable). Most of you gave this aspect short shrift or assumed a simple signaling mirror or sign would be sufficient. Given that the area you’re trapped in was heavily wooded, and that the crisis in the city would command most of the social network’s attention, that struck me as an overly optimistic assumption. You’re in a remote location that could easily be overlooked for weeks unless you can effectively alert the outside world of your presence and thereby force them to investigate. But maybe I’m just not one to presume on the kindness of strangers, which brings us back to the question of Dave.
This was easily the most intriguing aspect of the scenario as it threw a moral and social question into the mix. The vast majority of you opted to rescue Dave, which, in a thought exercise, was easy enough to do (though not everyone was so altruistic). But a surprising number of responses took considerable imaginative speculation (albeit jokingly) about Dave’s character, i.e. Dave harbored designs on your wife, or your kids, or was simply not deemed entirely trustworthy in some respect. Perhaps the fact that Dave “partied hard last night” led to these assumptions; who can say? But I wonder what real questions emerge from the fact that most of us seem to put great stock in the general social infrastructure to be there when we need them, yet are not so sanguine about our next door neighbor? Maybe you should think about having Dave over to dinner because, in an actual crisis, you never know who or what you might really have to rely on.
The winners of the MakeShift 05 challenge are:
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