McNoleg speaks of the Tessallati and the Vectules, living in a prehistoric Europe (but still subjected to the hazards of global warming). I had to read the article four or five or six times to pick out the important parts, discard the superfluous parts, and synthesize the general gist of the article.

We know he’s talking about conventional geospatial data models. It’s obvious that the Tessellati are the inventors of the raster data model and the Vectules are the inventors of the vector data model. I’m going to attempt to unpack the analogies McNoleg wittingly and creatively puts together.

The Tessellati need to fit the maximum number of individual pig cells on their small amount of land. They want a series of geometric shapes with no overlaps or gaps (a tessellation)–they want a raster grid of regulated pixels. This system is shortlived for a reason akin to too much storage (I think). McNoleg suggests to diversify your diet–diversify your data types–insinuating that you can’t do everything you’ll ever want to do using a raster grid alone (or eating only pig products).

The Vectules are under threat of flooding and can’t swim, so they have to climb trees. Because they are climbing trees, we know where they will end up and where they are in relation to other things. Not being able to swim means they can’t float around wherever they want–and the trees give them a determined toplogical structure that they must follow. Eventually they develop a frame to hold their vacant polygons, completing their data structure model. The downfall of this system–like their religion–is that there are a lot of rules that need to be followed.

As an addition to this article, I would love to read McNoleg’s interpretation of what happens when the Tessellati meet the Vectules. Or if the Vectules suddenly start eating the Tesselatti‘s pigs.



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