Category Archives: Uncategorized

New TT faculty position, Digital Geographies & Critical Mapping, UKY Geography

23

We’re hiring!

The Department of Geography at the University of Kentucky is hiring a new faculty member (Assistant Professor) in “Digital Geographies and Critical Mapping.” Review of applications will begin on February 2, 2018 and will continue until the position is filled. The deadline date for all reference materials is February 9, 2018.

For more information contact Search Committee Chair Dr. Matt Zook (zook@uky.edu). Our website: http://geography.as.uky.edu.

Apply here.

The Department of Geography at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky is searching for a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Geography in the area of digital geographies and critical mapping to begin in August 2018. Our goal is to build upon and strategically expand the Department’s existing strengths in critical studies in mapping, human geography, and environmental studies. Areas of interest might include (but are not limited to): critical GIS and mapping, digital economies, gender and difference, big data practices, privacy and surveillance, smart urbanism, algorithmic governance and citizenship, and digital applications for health and the environment.

The successful candidate is expected to teach introductory and advanced courses in mapping, GIS, and/or spatial computational approaches. Ideal candidates will incorporate programming for web cartography, as part of the department’s (1) regular course offerings; (2) online graduate certificate in digital mapping (see http://newmapsplus.uky.edu/); and (3) a proposed undergrad major in digital studies. A PhD in geography or related discipline is required at time of appointment.

Applicants must submit the following: (1) a cover letter and an up to date CV [upload as one document under CV]; (2) a statement describing research interests and future research plans [upload under Specific Request 1], (3) a teaching statement [upload under Specific Request 2], and (4) up to four article reprints or other materials such as maps, portfolios or GitHub repositories [upload as one document under Specific Request 3, please provide a working URL for any online materials]. Also provide the names and contact information for three references when prompted in the academic profile. This information will be utilized to solicit recommendation letters from your references within the employment system.

Review of applications will begin on February 2, 2018 and will continue until the position is filled. The deadline date for all reference materials is February 9, 2018.

For more information contact Search Committee Chair Dr. Matt Zook (zook@uky.edu). Our website: http://geography.as.uky.edu

Apply here.

Advertisements

Call for Sessions: Digital Geographies at RGS/IBG, Cardiff 2018

The RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018 will take place from 28-31 August at Cardiff University. It will be chaired by Prof Paul Milbourne and will have as its theme “Geographical landscapes / changing landscapes of geography”. The call for sessions at the conference has recently opened.

If you would like to propose a session related to the digital (including e.g. digital technologies, data, online spaces, social media) and would like DGWG sponsorship, we would like to hear from you. We would welcome joint sessions with other research groups. Proposals should relate to debates, literatures or approaches around the digital, and some may link this in some way to the 2018 conference theme, although this is not absolutely necessary.

Sessions may take the form of presented papers, panels, practitioner forums, discussions or workshops. Innovative sessions and formats are encouraged.

Proposals for, or questions about, DGWG sponsored sessions should be sent to Dorothea Kleine (d.j.kleine@sheffield.ac.uk) AND Oliver Zanetti (oliver.zanetti@ouce.ox.ac.uk).

Proposals should be submitted on the RGS Session Proposal form – available here.

by 8th January 2018

The filled out form should include information on:
(i) Title of session;
(ii) Name of Co-sponsoring groups, if applicable
(iii) Name and Contact Details for Session Convenors
(iv) Abstract, outlining scope of session – 200 words max.
(v) Number of session timeslots that are sought – this year session may not normally occupy more than 2 time slots.
(vi) Indication, if known, of preferred organization of session, e.g. 4 x 20min presentation, plus 20min discussion or 5 x 15min presentation, with 5min question for each, we would encourage you to be creative in your use of the format. Sessions last 1 hour 40 mins (see here for some great ideas on session formats)
(vii) Indication, if known for any non-standard arrangements.

The DGWG can sponsor a total of 12 individual conference sessions. Please also note that individuals may not make more than two substantive contributions to the conference (where a substantive contribution is: organiser of a session of any number of timeslots; paper/poster presentation of any length; panel member). Acting as chair/facilitator or discussant, or being a non-presenting co-author is excluded from this limit, though multiple roles in these categories this can have a significant impact on scheduling.

As per previous years, the RGS-IBG is able to provide a limited number of passes for those who would be otherwise unable to attend due to the costs involved. As such we encourage you to think about the inclusion of international contributors and non-academic delegates in your session.

We will confirm whether we can sponsor your session by the end of January 2018
If your session is accepted for sponsorship you must secure participants and complete the required paperwork by 16th February 2018 at the latest (preferably earlier).

We look forward to your proposals,

Dorothea, Gillian, Phil, Oliver and the DGWG committee

Special issue on “Power and Space in the Drone Age”

graphic_gh_cover_homepage

A special issue on “Power and Space in the Drone Age” is available (open access) from the journal Geographica Helvetica.

The list of contents is below and includes my own paper “Assemblage of the vertical: commercial drones and algorithmic life.” The papers were assembled following an amazing workshop organized and hosted by Francis Klauser and Silvana Pedrozo. Thanks to them and my fellow workshoppers for a productive and memorable event!

Special issue

Power and space in the drone age. Editor(s): B. Korf and F. Klauser | Theme issue coordinator: F. Klauser and S. Pedrozo
F. Klauser and S. Pedrozo
Geogr. Helv., 70, 285-293, https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-70-285-2015, 2015
Francisco Klauser and Silvana Pedrozo
Geogr. Helv., 72, 231-239, https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-72-231-2017, 2017
Silvana Pedrozo
Geogr. Helv., 72, 97-107, https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-72-97-2017, 2017
Irendra Radjawali and Oliver Pye
Geogr. Helv., 72, 17-27, https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-72-17-2017, 2017
Peter Adey
Geogr. Helv., 71, 319-329, https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-71-319-2016, 2016
Ciara Bracken-Roche
Geogr. Helv., 71, 167-172, https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-71-167-2016, 2016
Jeremy W. Crampton
Geogr. Helv., 71, 137-146, https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-71-137-2016, 2016
Neil J. Waghorn
Geogr. Helv., 71, 99-108, https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-71-99-2016, 2016
Ole B. Jensen
Geogr. Helv., 71, 67-75, https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-71-67-2016, 2016
Ian G. R. Shaw
Geogr. Helv., 71, 19-28, https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-71-19-2016, 2016
A. H. Jackman
Geogr. Helv., 71, 1-6, https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-71-1-2016, 2016
Francisco Klauser and Silvana Pedrozo
Geogr. Helv., 72, 409-410, https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-72-409-2017, 2017

Recent talk at Urban Automation, Sheffield

I recently gave a talk at the Urban Automation workshop, organized by the fantastic Urban Institute at the University of Sheffield. My slides from the talk are below.

My talk was entitled “The Politics of Post-Truth Big Data: Anxieties & Opportunities”

The full program of events is here: (pdf) Workshop Programme UA

Gillian Rose reflections on moving materially & digitally

Some lovely thoughts from Gillian Rose on the ways that different media can “move” (or not) in the context of her own move to a new position at Oxford.

Then there were the boxes of floppy discs and slides. The floppy discs made me smile and also gave me pause for thought. On them were copies of all the teaching material I’d used before I moved to the OU in 1993: lecture notes, handouts, overhead project transparencies. Aha, I’d thought then, I’ll put it all on discs and throw out the paper and acetate and save space and be modern. Now of course the floppy discs are unreadable and my materials are inaccessible.

More here.

A warrant is needed for phone locations–Lawfare

150px-seal_of_the_united_states_supreme_court-svg

Powerful piece by Susan Landau on why police should be required to have a warrant to access a phone’s location data (the subject of a current Supreme Court case). I’ve previously discussed this issue here.

In case you don’t know Landau’s work:

Susan Landau is Bridge Professor in the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science, Tufts University and Visiting Professor of Computer Science, University College London. Landau works at the intersection of cybersecurity, national security, law, and policy. Her new book, “Listening In: Cybersecurity in an Insecure Age,” will be published by Yale University Press in fall 2017; Landau is also the author of “Surveillance or Security? The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies,” (MIT Press, 2011s) and “Privacy on the Line: the Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption,” co-authored with Whitfield Diffie (MIT Press, 1998). Landau was an early voice in the argument that law-enforcement requirements for embedding surveillance within communications infrastructures created long-term national-security risks, and has testified to Congress and frequently briefed US and European policymakers on encryption, surveillance, and cybersecurity issues. Landau has been a Senior Staff Privacy Analyst at Google, a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems, and a faculty member at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the University of Massachusetts and Wesleyan University. She has served on the National Academies Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (2010-2016), the National Science Foundation Computer and Information Advisory Board (2010-2013), the Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board (2002-2008), as an Associate Editor-in-Chief on IEEE Security and Privacy, section board member on the Communications of the ACM, and associate editor at the Notices of the American Mathematical Society. A 2015 inductee in the Cybersecurity Hall of Fame and a 2012 Guggenheim fellow, Landau was a 2010-2011 fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and the recipient of the 2008 Women of Vision Social Impact Award. She is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Association for Computing Machinery. She received her B.A. from Princeton, her M.S. from Cornell, and her Ph.D. from MIT.

Wow.

The amicus brief she and her colleagues filed presents arguments that are very relevant to issues we study in geography, especially digital geography and political geography:

  1. “The technology increasingly provides extremely detailed information, enabling the location of a user not just in a building, but even on a particular floor.”
  2. “The level of precision of that location information is largely not understood by the users”
  3. “CSLI is extraordinarily revealing of a person’s interests and activities; it’s remarkably privacy invasive.”

In some ways these are all ramifications of the same issue: the specially sensitive nature of geolocational information. It’s why geographers argue that geolocational information is the most privacy-intrusive information there is. There have been several attempts to pass laws requiring locational warrants.

The amicus brief is here.

The “terminal” subject

There are some interesting passages in Jacques Lacan’s Seminar XVII (“The other side/the upside-down of psychoanalysis”) given in 1970. This is the seminar best known for discussing the “four discourses” which were his attempt to illustrate the structures of relations between subject and language.

Lacan’s four discourses were that of the master, the hysteric, the analyst and the university:

matheme

Lacan’s four discourses

These discourses attempt to illustrate the ways in which the (always incomplete or divided) subject is socialized in language. The terms are S1 – master signifier; S2 – knowledge; $ – the [divided] subject; and a – “that which escapes” (in Massumi’s terms) or more usually objet petit a (the small other). Notice that each discourse is a quarter turn around.

The discourses work by occupying in turn the following meanings:

positions

The idea is that the term in the top left corner provides the orientation for the term in the top right. So in the master’s discourse for example, the master signifier, S1, as the agent impossibly attempts to provide the other with knowledge. This is however impossible because the master actually has no knowledge and instead depends on the “slave” (to use Hegel’s terms) to produce knowledge, which the master seeks to appropriate. What is produced in this scheme is a, while the subject occupies the position of truth.

At a point late in the seminar Lacan explicitly discusses science. Lacan starts talking about science as possibly a master’s discourse and as if it constituted a series of zones, or better, spheres which “encircle the earth” (Sem. XVII, p. 160 of the English translation and 187 of the French). Surprisingly given that we’re talking about science, Lacan rejects calling this the noosphere or sphere of the mind “which we ourselves supposedly populate” (p. 161/187). Rather, Lacan terms this the “alethosphere.”

Don’t get too excited. The alethosphere gets recorded. If you have a little microphone here [presumably indicating the recording microphones in front of him], you are plugged into the alethosphere. What is really something is that if you are a little vehicle that is transporting you toward Mars you can still plug into the alethosphere….

It takes time to observe all the things that populate it…

I’m going to call [them] the “lathouses.” The world is increasingly populated by lathouses.

Sem. XVII, p. 161-2/188

Sorry for the neologisms he uses here. Alethosphere should be familiar to readers of Philip Pullman however, who features an alethiometer; both words derive from the Greek for “truth.” Heidegger also uses the term aletheia.

As for lathouses, the first thing Lacan does is claim he could have spelled it “lathousies” which echoes Plato’s ousia or being, but which Lacan says is somewhere between being and the Other.

What are they? “And these tiny objects little a that you will encounter when you leave, there on the footpath at the corner of every street, behind every window, in this abundance of these objects designed to be the cause of your desire, insofar as it is now science that governs it” these are the lathouses.

For Joan Copjec, commenting on this, these lathouses are little gadgets or gizmos:

In Lacan’s new ultra-modern myth, there is no heavenly sphere, naturally; it has been demolished. All that remains of the world beyond the subject is the ‘alethosphere’, which is a kind of high-tech heaven, a laicized or ‘disenchanted’ space filled none the less with every technoscientific marvel imaginable: space probes and orbiters, telecommunications and telebanking systems, and so on. The subject is now a ‘terminal’ subject, plugged into various circuitries, suited with wearable computers and fitted with artificial, remotely monitored and controlled organs, implants.

Copjec 2006, p. 96

So in this view science has given us only a series of “gadgets” rather than meaningful truth. We accommodate ourselves to them instead of the other way round These gadgets tear us away from a social fabric (discourse), and from our truths (Dunlop, 2014, p. 160).

Copjec: “The reality ( of the market ) principle was clearly calling the shots, telling the
pleasure principle in what to invest and what pleasures ought to be sacrificed to get the best returns on those investments.” This part is not necessarily new of course as you can find similar ideas in Benjamin and Heidegger.

But I like this idea of the terminal subject. This is a common trope in SF where it’s variously called cyberspace (Gibson) or the Oasis (Ready Player One) etc. I think this in some ways betters Haraway’s “cyborg” in that the terminal subject, by being taken up into the Other, will experience anxieties, not of a general or diffuse angstyness, but because of a surfeit of these objects. Especially these “non-objectified objects” called lathouses (Copjec, p. 99). Thus the modern subject with their smartphones, GPS devices and other forms of technology is the anxious subject, overwhelmed and subjectified.

But this subjectification takes place, to some extent, with our willing consent. That is because in these gadgets we seek to work out our desires, that is, to gain jouissance. By definition, desire can never be satisfied, so it produces a constant searching and no doubt participation in social media such as Facebook and Twitter. (Let me just check if anyone responded to my hilarious FB post! How many followers do I have on Twitter now? Let me just check again!) ARRRGGH!

To no avail then. For Copjec, this jouissance is “fraudulent” because it gives a false sense that our core being is knowable. This will perhaps be the problem with Big Data when it comes to “represent” us. As Rouvroy and Berns (2013) have already outlined, algorithmic governance entails three (problematic) stages:

  1. The data double & Big Data become statistical data, information.
  2. The production of knowledge from those data, especially through automated machine learning with the goal of “absolute objectivity.”
  3. Action is taken on behaviors: anticipate possibilities that individuals will realize and to associate these with profiles in order to “conduct” (cf. Foucault).

Lacan ends his seminar XVII by provoking his listeners to feel shame. Here we might reflect on what psychoanalysis in the Lacanian tradition is meant to achieve in the end. It does not seek to change behavior or to reach some deep understanding of themselves as a now cured unitary self. Rather, it is more modest in that it seeks to have people confront the truth of their desires.So when we constantly put in place ways of collecting more data on ourselves in the Internet of Things, perhaps we should face the truth of what we’re doing here, whether it be control or profit.