Coding community: Geographic information technologies and mappings of the city street
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Coding community: Geographic information technologies and mappings of the city street

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This presentation, based on research completed while at the University of Washington, was presented 19 February 2010 at the American Geographical Society Library at the University of ...

This presentation, based on research completed while at the University of Washington, was presented 19 February 2010 at the American Geographical Society Library at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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Coding community: Geographic information technologies and mappings of the city street Coding community: Geographic information technologies and mappings of the city street Presentation Transcript

  • Coding community: Geographic information technologies and mappings of the city street Matthew W. Wilson, PhD Assistant Professor of Geography Emerging Media Fellow Ball State University [email_address] 19 February 2010 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • View slide
  • View slide
  • Broader questions
    • Who participates?
    • What is represented?
    • Who is implicated?
    • What is enabled?
    photos from SUNI surveys, courtesy of Sustainable Seattle
  • Areas of geographic research Political Urban GIScience
  • Areas of geographic research Political Urban GIScience urban competitiveness and quality-of-life indicators
  • Areas of geographic research Political Urban GIScience urban spatial strategies to discipline bodies and practices
  • Areas of geographic research Political Urban GIScience spaces constituted by technological innovation
  • Areas of geographic research Political Urban GIScience interfaces between the urban and the technological
  • Research question
    • How do handheld geographic information technologies constitute subjects and objects in Seattle-based community mapping practices?
  • Addressing gaps in the literature
    • What technological practices further urban competitiveness?
    • How are spatial technologies involved in the disciplining of urban spaces?
    • How do contemporary uses of GIS constitute urban space?
  • Research design
    • Inductive, case-based research
    • Qualitative interviews, participant observation, and archival documentation
    • Analyzed through discourse and content analysis
  • Sustainable Seattle
    • Regional indicators for sustainability:
      • Three reports in 1993, 1995, 1998
    • International recognition in the 1990s
    • However, a lack of regional impact
      • Needed ‘grounded’ action at the neighborhood scale
    • Began to explore neighborhood indicators
      • The use of ‘ComNET’ in New York City
  • Meanwhile…
    • The Fund for the City of New York
      • Previous studies on cleanliness and crime
      • Needed mechanism for citizen engagement
      • The ‘post-pc’ era of the late 1990s: PDAs
      • Computerized Neighborhood Environment Tracking system emerges (ComNET)
    (The Fund 2008)
  • How do these technologies constitute space in the marking of the city street?
  • How do these practices around ‘data’ motivate certain discourses, and thereby constitute subjects of those discourses?
  • Key evidence
    • ComNET feature-conditions list
    • Discussion with The Fund regarding ‘information flow’
    • Discussion with community residents about how data come to ‘matter’
  • The argument Geographic information technologies are not simply convenient, passive tools of new forms of governance. Instead they are active agents in subject formation.
  • Feature-conditions
  • Coding bodies as ‘deficits’
  • Coding bodies as ‘assets’
  • And further modifications…
  • Coding practices constitute spaces
    • Database space re-presents street space
    • Categorical systems are visioning systems
    • Marking the visual presence of objects makes absent the subjects inherent to those objects
    (The Fund 2004)
  • Information flow “ It’s all about the stuff you see. Your feeling is that the city is not working right. It’s a cue! …” “ We needed to create data the communities and government could trust. …” “ Communities have to learn the language of government.” (Ruth Olson, 2008, The Fund for the City of New York) (Sustainable Seattle 2006)
  • Only transformable concerns enter the flow of information
    • Categories structure this flow
    • The language of government is emulated
    • Residents’ narratives of place are lost
    (Sustainable Seattle 2004)
  • Data matters “ Hard data, where it may or may not be as important to the community members, is extremely important to policy makers and funders, who would then give resources towards the particular issues that came up.” Sandy Weng, Department of Neighborhoods, City of Seattle
  • Counting Sunders: “I remember a person on our group was so compulsive, and would count everything! And I was getting really tired, it was cold, rainy, and they kept counting every little thing , absolutely. And so it was very subjective about how compulsive the person was. It’s a little hard to compare, because it wasn't like a general sense of how much graffiti there is, there was a counting of every little piece of it .” Graves: “Yeah and I mean, data is always interesting in that way, and [I’m] just reiterating that my projected concern is that that particular item is going to get a lot of attention , and there are so many other street-level components that are, you know, [important], and you know, maybe, some graffiti rangers program could have developed out of this, beyond the one we already have, and we could get more money. So I’m just super worried about that deal…”
  • Symptoms Graves: “One of my theories is that graffiti, and occurrence of graffiti, is directly proportional to youth habitat and whether there is youth habitat or not, and so somehow I want to be able to … use [this data] as a tool to get youth habitat and provisions…” Griffin: “… So if you can’t—if you don't articulate that kind of concept … then the standard practice is this is a sign of disorder, this is a sign of a problem, as opposed to this is a habitat for teens. It's a different problem, this [graffiti] is a symptom of a problem.”
  • ‘ Objective’ codes implicate subjects
    • Formalization of the visual refocused discussions from those ‘on the street’
    • Data matter and cannot be emotionless
    • Data in isolation lead to problematic associations
    (The Fund 2004)
  • Findings
    • Coding practices mark presences and make absences
    • Concerns enter the flow of information only after being transformed into ‘proper’ data
    • ‘ Objective’ codes implicate subjects
  • Significance
    • Considering the implications for coding practices as they permeate urban life
    • Broadening the study of geographic information technologies
    • Deepening our understandings as to how ‘objectified’ data lacks the situatedness of community concerns
    • Flagging the slippages in treating bodies as ‘broken windows’
  • Persistent questions and future directions
    • Emphasizing mapping practices
    • Implications for ‘neogeographies’ and ‘volunteered geographic information’ (VGI)
    • A need for continued work exploring the everyday moments of geocoding in these new mapping practices
    • Who participates?, What is represented?, Who is implicated?, What is enabled?
  • photos in presentation courtesy of Sustainable Seattle