Turning the jungle into punch cards During the early optimistic days of the summer 2020 quarantine I watched Ken Burn’s fantastic 10 part 18-hour series on the Vietnam war. It is by far the most accessible and compressive body of work on the subject. Burn’s starts you off pre-WWI so you really get a comprehensive picture of things. One of the aspects of the war that fascinated me the most was the push by the the then Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, to quantify as much of the war as was computationally possible. One of the most storage intensive of McNamara’s efforts was the Hamlet Evaluation System, which attempted to quantify the degree to which ~12,000 small, rural Vietnamese villages had been pacified.
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