New Spatial Media, New Knowledge Politics

Sarah Elwood and Agnieszka Leszczynski‘s 2012 Transactions paper is open-access and available here. Worth reading if, like myself, you’re interested in the political agency of new spatial media. Cuts through the evangelical b*llshit in my opinion. Here’s a good quote that speaks of the need for more empirical research into the manifold deployments of spatial media and resulting knowledge assemblages:

Th[e geoweb] literature suggests the need to be attentive to how digital visual artefacts frame audiences’ interactions with the presented content, to the visual practices enabled by these emergent artefacts (e.g. watching, playing, surveilling, controlling, gaining awareness), and to the visual epistemologies that emerge within these practices. What has yet to be undertaken are grounded studies of the substantive practices emerging from activist and civic engagement applications of new spatial media, to consider the nature and genesis of the epistemological politics advanced through these initiatives, and the extent to which they re-inscribe or depart from engagements with other kinds of geographic information technologies. (4-5)

N.B It’s the first academic paper I’ve come across that has expressly mentioned the Sukey protest application – albeit in the endnotes. 

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3 thoughts on “New Spatial Media, New Knowledge Politics

  1. Thanks for this. Interesting read. Couple of stray observations:
    1. Method and methodology focus – Love it!
    2. They idea on new epidemiologies reminds me a lot of Latourian matters-of-concern: a frame of truth through recognizing the underlying motives, rather then appealing to external objective authority.
    3. Very Object-oriented – the entire focus on individual, granular changes to the rich-data map items is very in-line with Harman.
    4. They are very vocal about what they’re *not* doing: not representative cases, not discerning success of platforms, not going for Sukey, not arguing for novelty of the uses or representational capacity of platforms, etc. (in fact, just search ‘not’ within the documents and see how much it crops up in this context 🙂 )
    5. This paragraph:

    “Further, because we conceive of these digital politics as shaped by the forms of information and representation employed, prospective cases needed to have a sufficient⁄ sustained online presence to allow us to examine these dimensions”

    Huh? At best – tech. determinism, at worst – strange link between essence (what the platform IS) and effect (how the platform manages).

  2. Hey Alex. Yes you’re right, they do get rather tied up with saying what they aren’t doing. Cases are not representative of existing new media engagements, not about investigating success of applications, not about strengths/weaknesses, not about data accuracy etc. Underneath all that positioning there’s a good paper. I particularly liked the discussion of legitimacy and verification – thought they made a very good point about a shift from conventional metadata techniques to user comment appreciation + peer rating.

    On point 5 are they just suggesting they wanted an application with impact? I.e. one that has been seen to have had an effect?

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