The following are my “Thanksgiving Reflections” or statement about our group here at the University of Kentucky. We call ourselves the New Mappings Collaboratory and I had some time over the Thanksgiving break to sit down and try to think what we’re about. I shared these with colleagues and we discussed them at our “Map Chat” yesterday (our bi-monthly meeting of the larger group). Since it looks like we may want to push these four points forward (with the addition of Matt Zook’s suggestion of new kinds of agency in an era of Big Data and algorithms) I publish them here for comments and reactions.
The New Mappings Collaboratory is about the creation of new maps:
- New forms of maps.
- New ways and practices of mapping.
- New ways of thinking about maps (new concepts).
- New educational encounters with mapping.
It is not just maps as such, but the event of the map (mapping). We are interested in creating spaces where these new mappings can occur, propagate, and multiply.
As such, we hold to a view of the encounter with mapping as one of maximal openness in terms of technologies, data and thought. We wish to explore material and discursive “digiplaces” and the intersection of virtual, actual and material places.
New Mappings Collaboratory was founded in 2011 by Jeremy W. Crampton, Matthew W. Wilson and Matthew Zook on an equal basis. Sue Roberts suggested the word “Collaboratory” to designate the open and mutually assistive nature of the effort, which has no formal membership but rather interesting/ed people who participate on a loose ad hoc basis.
- Histories of critical mapping and cartography. How does the “new” arise and what work does it do? Is the new always recognized as such at the time, and is it a matter of distinguishing itself from the old? Perhaps it is not so much a history as a genealogy that would give us a history of the present. We are interested in this “minor” critical history of cartographic thinking. Specific projects include the Harvard Graphics Lab, landscape planning and Ian McHarg, and mapping as governmental technology, as some of the “new lines” of flight.
- Non-representational mapping. We are interested in the performativity of mapping; what work mappings do in the world. Under this project we are investigating the nomadic life of the algorithm and “algorithmic governance” affective value in geospatial startups, hacking and encryption geographies, and the fragility and transience of the (data) archive (how data are stored, accessed, and distributed, how quickly the field changes in terms of pedagogy). [Fragility also refers to] mutability of forms. CartoDB–Leaflet–Mapbox.
- Socio-technological. We continue to investigate the lives of spatial Big Data, technologies and politics beyond the geotag, that is, mapping as “unfolding social relations.” With the advent of the Smart City, Big Data, everywhere sensors and the Internet of Things, we are confronted by new ways of doing business, governance and possibilities of living. How do geoprivacy and geosurveillance operate in this new condition?