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Thinking about Classifications & Making up Spaces


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Seminar given to ESRI Ireland, in Ashtown on the topic of critically thinking about data.

Published in: Data & Analytics

Thinking about Classifications & Making up Spaces

  1. 1. Dr Tracey P. Lauriault @TraceyLauriault NIRSA, Maynooth University ESRI Ireland Lunchtime Seminar Thinking about Classifications & Making up Spaces Dec. 1st, 1300-1400 Block B, Ashtown Gate, Navan Road, Dublin 15, Ireland
  2. 2. The Programmable City •A European Research Council (ERC) and Science Foundation of Ireland (SFI) funding •SH3: Environment and Society •Led by Dr Rob Kitchin, the Primary Investigator •Based at the National Institute for Regional and Spacial Analysis (NIRSA) •At the National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM)
  3. 3. MIT Press 2011 Sage 2014 Aim of the ERC project is to build off and extend a decade of work that culminated in Code/Space book (MIT Press) with a set of detailed empirical studies
  4. 4. Objective •to provide: •an interdisciplinary analysis of the two core inter-related aspects of the emerging programmable city: •(a) Translation: how cities are translated into code, and •(b) Transduction: how code reshapes city life” (Kitchin 2011).
  5. 5. Objectives How is the city translated into software and data? How do software and data reshape the city? Translation: City into Code & Data Transduction: Code & Data Reshape City THE CITY CODE & DATA Discourses, Practices, Knowledge, Models Mediation, Augmentation, Facilitation, Regulation
  6. 6. ProgCity Research Matrix Translation: City into code Transduction: Code reshapes city Understanding the city (Knowledge) How are digital data materially and discursively supported and processed about cities and their citizens? How does software drive public policy development and implementation? Managing the city (Governance) How are discourses and practices of city governance translated into code? How is software used to regulate and govern city life? Working in the city (Production) How is the geography and political economy of software production organised? How does software alter the form and nature of work? Living in the city (Social Politics) How is software discursively produced and legitimated by vested interests? How does software transform the spatiality and spatial behaviour of individuals?
  7. 7. Kitchin’s Data Assemblage Attributes Elements Systems of thought Modes of thinking, philosophies, theories, models, ideologies, rationalities, etc. Forms of knowledge Research texts, manuals, magazines, websites, experience, word of mouth, chat forums, etc. Finance Business models, investment, venture capital, grants, philanthropy, profit, etc. Political economy Policy, tax regimes, public and political opinion, ethical considerations, etc. Govern- mentalities / Legalities Data standards, file formats, system requirements, protocols, regulations, laws, licensing, intellectual property regimes, etc. Materialities & infrastructures Paper/pens, computers, digital devices, sensors, scanners, databases, networks, servers, etc. Practices Techniques, ways of doing, learned behaviours, scientific conventions, etc. Organisations & institutions Archives, corporations, consultants, manufacturers, retailers, government agencies, universities, conferences, clubs and societies, committees and boards, communities of practice, etc. Subjectivities & communities Of data producers, curators, managers, analysts, scientists, politicians, users, citizens, etc. Places Labs, offices, field sites, data centres, server farms, business parks, etc, and their agglomerations Marketplace For data, its derivatives (e.g., text, tables, graphs, maps), analysts, analytic software, interpretations, etc. Systems of thought
  8. 8. Geographical Imaginations & Getting sorted out
  9. 9. Geographical Imaginations National reality is conditioned by government generated data and the related infrastructures that produce them. Data and infrastructures shape and are shaped by geographic imaginations. Geographic imaginations have real material effects as they produce knowledge, spaces and subjects which are acted upon.
  10. 10. Data Data and maps are technological and scientific products, interrogated according to the norms of the scientific messages they convey as well as the social contexts of their emergence, dissemination and use (Pickles, Harley, Latour). •Data and maps are socio-technological objects (Hughes) •Maps & data are knowledge representations, inscriptions and immutable mobiles (Latour) •Maps and data are arrangements of “facts within a specific cultural perspective” (Harley) •Atlas of Canada and Census of Canada are infrastructural work (Curtis)
  11. 11. Infrastructures Technopolitical Regime – grounded in institutions, linked sets of people, engineering and industrial practices, technological artifacts, political programs and institutional ideologies which act together to govern technological development and pursue technopolitics (Hetch) •Story telling system (Kim & Ball-Rokeach) •Implicated in the “cultural construction of space” (Dourish & Bell) •Information ecology (Nardy & O’Day) •Properties of infrastructure – ethnographic view (Star & Ruhleder) •Inscription devices & black box (Latour) •Large technopolitical regimes (Hetch) with momentum (Hughes, Feenberg) exhibiting infrastructural determinism (Lauriault & Lenczner) •Invisible, human built technological fabric of society (Hayes)
  12. 12. Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI) Is gouvernementale, biopolitical & a socio-technopolitical state formation activity that helps construct geographical imaginations
  13. 13. Geographic Imaginations Joseph Campbell “the society of the Planet” from the Power of the Myth in reference to the Blue Marble Image released by NASA in 1972
  14. 14. •Said - Orientalism •Cosgrove - Appollo’s Eye •Anderson - Imagined Communities •Lefebvre - The Production of Space •Debarbieux - Imagination et imaginaire géographiques •Wright - Terrae Incognitae •Tang - The Geographic Imagination of Modernity •Schulten - The Geographical Imagination in America 1880-1950 •Winichakul - Geo-body Data as representations/inscriptions of space & infrastructure as spatial practice construct imaginations of space & condition practices in space. “worlds where real elements are arranged and introduced in an interpretable system whereby individuals or collectivities on one side and the earth on the other are harmoniously arranged in a coherent fashion” (Debarbieux) Geography formed an epistemic apparatus of collecting and processing spatial data in the service of the state, theoretical discourse provided the nation with an imaginary identity by interpreting national culture and history as the result of people’s engagement with the singular conditions, structures, and processes of their terrestrial habitats (Tang) Geographical Imaginations
  15. 15. Classification & Material Effects Detail of Halifax map extracted from Plate 39, 1st Edition of the Atlas of Canada (1906) showing the location of the Insane and the Poor Asylums Infirmities Category of Unsound Mind, Schedule 1 Nominal Return of the Living of the 1871 Census, Nova Scotia (CCRI, 2012)
  16. 16. Hacking – Framework of ‘making up people’ How scientific classification brings into being new kinds of people who conceive and perceive themselves as that kind and new kinds of spaces that people believe are true kinds 1.The category or classification and the category and classification as an object 2.How it came into being 3.How it becomes a convention 4.What is actually being measured 5.And how the thing measured gets put to work
  17. 17. Classification
  18. 18. Spaces and People •Real people get classed and eventually start to self-identify according to the class. •Things get mapped, and the way people envision and then act upon the things mapped. •Ex: Indian Reserve or spaces defining clusters of people mapped by their Status Indian designation.
  19. 19. Institutions •the Canadian census and the Atlas of Canada, NRCan, StatCan or the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), place people where they belong, and tax them, manage them or dispense compensation accordingly. •use the work of enumerators, accountants and cartographers, who work within structured bureaucracies as administrators, to firm up the classifications and manage the infrastructures to do so.
  20. 20. Knowledge •Cartographer’s professional knowledge, and the institution that commissioned the map. •Maps are knowledge representations, showing where kinds of people are located. They model regions, and by doing so, model what is possible in certain places. •The characteristics of people of different origins can also be represented in maps, and census commissioners, enumerators and administrators were instructed by way of manuals on how to classify the people they were to count. •These characteristics once mapped, create clusters, islands, zones, or kinds of spaces, and a new type spatial knowledge that could be acted upon by experts.
  21. 21. Experts •Census Commissioners once bemoaned that it was: deemed advisable to depart from the ordinary way of enumerating people, in regard of Indians; the objections to such a course were several, the primary one being the difficulties in regard to languages which was insurmountable; besides there is an excellent authority for stating that an attempt to enumerate the Indians in the regular manner would tend to excite them; that they would not understand the real object and would be sure to attribute it to a wrong and perhaps mischievous motive, so that the only way was deemed to call in the aid of the different agents, who have a record of all Indians receiving supplies and treaty payments from the Government (Dept. Agriculture.1886:xvi).
  22. 22. Indian Treaties Map, 5th Edition Atlas of Canada
  23. 23. Looping Effect ( Ian Hacking) 5 Interactive Elements
  24. 24. Counting •In the post-Napoleonic era, counting became part of the ‘avalanche of printed numbers’ (Hacking, 2007). •Census taking grew in earnest in the colonies of France and Britain, particularly in Canada, which is lauded as having the first systematic census in the world: the 1665-1666 Census of New France conducted by Jean Talon. •Natural resources, such as trees, were also counted according to particular classification schemes.
  25. 25. Quatify •Scales, baselines, thresholds, or traits and characteristics. •The Body Mass Index (BMI) generated new kinds of people quantified within four BMI classifications: underweight, normal, overweight and obese. •Number of people considered bilingual; •the areal extent of climatic regions as per the Thronthwaite Classification system used in the Atlas of Canada, •the mapping of clusters of trees into forested ecozones.
  26. 26. Norms •Adolphe Quetelet’s average man and Georges Canguilhem’s study of “the normal and the pathological showed how medicine acquired the concept of normalcy not long after 1800” (Hacking, 2007:308). •It is about discovering the norm within a classification. •Foucault’s “analyses of the discourses of medicine and psychiatry, for example, showed the importance of discourses in constructing and maintaining social norms, in turn shaping individual identities by delimiting and conditioning thoughts and actions” (Foucauldian Sharpa & Richardson, 2001:197). •Trees, in Canada were eventually classified into vegetation ecozones which became a normal way to map, characterize and understand forests.
  27. 27. Correlation •Correlation is the statistical process developed by Francis Galton who made “deviation from the mean the core of his social philosophy” (Hacking, 2007). According to Hacking, the less we know about a category the more we search for correlations. •Ex: a BMI between 25 and 30 now defines what is overweight, and being overweight is thought to be bad as it correlates with numerous risk factors, which are themselves statistical entities (Hacking, 2007). •Spatial autocorrelation, factorial analysis of satellite images image, interpolation are some of the methods used to map and assess spatial relationships.
  28. 28. Taking action •Social or environmental actions may be taken once a space is classified in a certain way. •The empires featured and categorized earlier became international organizations such as APEC, or the Commonwealth •Actions are taken either to manage the new relationships between former colonies, or to exploit resources, or to remediate damaged areas. •Once actions are taken, spatial arrangements change, which changes the spaces classified, in turn changing the class, which is part of the looping effect.
  29. 29. Scientification •Once a classification has been scientifically and authoritatively accepted, adopted and normalized, how a class, a space or a kind of thing is understood changes. •Ex: a species is scientifically classed as being in danger of extinction, hunters change their behaviour toward hunting that species & Park officials change how they manage that species’ habitat.
  30. 30. Modified Engines of discoverability
  31. 31. Normalization •Normalization is the process of making “unfavourable deviants as close to normal as possible” (Hacking, 2007:309). i.e. making fat people thin •Once a region has been deemed suitable for agriculture, or is classified as an ecozone, it becomes normalized as such in the minds of farmers, planners, foresters and any others who are making economic plans. •Once a neighbourhood in a city has been normalized or imagined as impoverished or crime ridden, real estate spatial practices begin to form. •Once categories are normalized, they become conventional, standardized and bureaucratized. The seven classes of the Booth maps of poverty, (1898- 1899):
  32. 32. Bureaucracy •Managing, controlling or surveying people, requires criteria in order to administer kinds of people and spaces. •Insurance companies penalize obese people, considered to be a bad risk, and use the BMI to assess that risk. •Population health experts may map incidences of BMI in a city, and results may inform the development of targeted programs and services to reduce or maintain certain levels, or normalize obese children into thin children. •Bureaucracy has a way to standardize, “codify, embody, or prescribe ethics and values, often with great consequences for individuals [or spaces] (consider standardized testing in schools, for example)” (Star & Lampland, 2000:5). •Once the process is in place, it is quite difficult to change.
  33. 33. Resistance •Resistance is the action taken by people who have been classified, because the “kinds of people who are medicalized, normalized and administered, increasingly try to take back control from the experts and the institutions, sometimes by creating new experts, [and] new institutions” (Hacking, 2007:310). •Ex. Homosexuality: gay gene, deprogramming of gay youth, DMS reclassification as normal behaviour in 1973, gay pride, gay people
  34. 34. Resisting a spatial arrangement
  35. 35. Derived engines
  36. 36. Making up spaces
  37. 37. Framework complementarities •Kitchin’s Socio-Technical Data and Data Infrastructure Assemblages structures the examination of data & infrastructure landscapes or ecosystems •Making up People and Spaces Framework allows for an examination of how datasets and their infrastructures shape the city and how the city is shapes them
  38. 38. Atlas of Canada
  39. 39. •institutions •knowledge •Experts •scientification •normalization •bureaucratization Atlas of Canada
  40. 40. Content
  41. 41. Groupings
  42. 42. 4 Map Topics Examining the particularities of classifying to assess if spaces were made up, specifically these aspects of the Hacking framework: •counting •quantifying •norms •correlation •taking action and •scientification •3 derived engines & the 5 elements •Relief – fundamental layer •Forest – biogeographical feature of vegetation •Communication Infrastructure – human built feature •Territorial Evolution – shape and extent of the territory
  43. 43. Maps about Mapping, 3rd Edition, Atlas of Canada
  44. 44. 1st Edition 2nd Edition 3rd Edition 4th Edition 5th Edition 6th Edition 1. Relief
  45. 45. Fremlin’s Relief Profiles, 4th edition
  46. 46. 2. Forest 6th Edition 3rd Edition 4th Edition 1st Edition 2nd Edition 5th Edition
  47. 47. . Classifying, Mapping and Normalizing Ecological Land Classification (EC, 1981)
  48. 48. 3. Communication Infrastructure 1st Edition 2nd Edition 3rd Edition 4th Edition 5th Edition
  49. 49. Telegraphs – Quebec and Maritime Provinces, 1st Edition Atlas of Canada
  50. 50. 4. Territorial Evolution 6th Edition 1st Edition 2nd Edition 3rd Edition 4th Edition 5th Edition
  51. 51. Census of Canada Question
  52. 52. Official Languages
  53. 53. Mother Tongues of the Population Map, B & B Commission, Book I 1967
  54. 54. Official Language Minority is equal to or is more than 10% of the population by CD, B & B Commission, Book I 1967
  55. 55. Ontario District Recommendation’s Map, 1st Bilingual Districts Advisory Board, 1971
  56. 56. Ottawa Area Recommendations, 1st Bilingual Districts Advisory Board, 1971
  57. 57. Citizenship & Immigration
  58. 58. Citizenship & Immigration cntd.
  59. 59. Application in the Programmable City
  60. 60. Openness
  61. 61. Open Data
  62. 62. Research Data Canada Archiving, Management and Preservation of Geospatial Data National Consultation on Access to Scientific Data Final Report (NCASRD) 2010 1990 1995 2000 2005 National Data Archive Consultation (SSHRC) Stewardship of Research Data in Canada: A Gap Analysis The dissemination of government geographic data in Canada: guide to best practices Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology Toward a National Digital Information Strategy: Mapping the Current Situation in Canada (LAC) Canadian Digital Information Strategy (CDIS) (LAC) IPY 1985 2014 Open Data Consultations Mapping the Data Landscape: Report of the 2011 Canadian Research Data Summit Digital Economy Consultation, Industry Canada Community Data Roundtable Privacy (Geo) Sensitive Data (Geo) Resolution of Canada’s Access to Information and Privacy Commissioners Geomatics Accord Signed Canadian Geospatial Data Policy Liberating the Data Proposal VGI Primer Cloud (Geo) OD Advisory Panel OGP G8 Subjectivities & Forms of Knowledge • Policies • Reports • Proposals • Recommendations • Consultation 2008
  63. 63. 2010 1990 1995 2000 2005 1985 2014 Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) Geogratis Data Portal GeoBase Canadian Internet Public Policy Clinic Maps Data and Government Information Services (MADGIC) Carleton U GeoConnections GeoGratis Census Data Consortium Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Atlas of Canada Online (1st) CeoNet Discovery Portal Research Data Network How'd they Vote Campaign for Open Government (FIPA) Canadian Association of Public Data Users I Believe in Open Campaign Change Camps Start Nanaimo BC Toronto Open Data Portals Edmonton Mississauga launches open data Citizen Factory B.C.'s Climate Change Data Catalogue Open Parliament Ottawa Ottawa, Prince George, Medicine Hat Global TV Hansard in XML Langley Let the Data Flow GovCamp Fed. Expenses Montreal Ouvert Fed.Gov. Travel and Hospitality Expenses London Hamilton Windsor Open Data Hackfest Aid Agency DataBC Hacking Health 14 Cities Quebec Ontario OGP 3 Cities Alberta G8 Community Data Program FCM Quality of Life Reporting System Geographic and Numeric Information System (GANIS) Materialities / Infrastructures • Consortia • Portals/Catalogs • Maps • Open data/Open Gov Events 2009
  64. 64. The Dublin Dashboard includes: •real-time information •time-series indicator data •& interactive maps about all aspects of the city Benefits: •detailed, up to date intelligence about the city that aids everyday decision making and fosters evidence-informed analysis. Freely available data sources: •Dublin City Council •Dublinked •Central Statistics Office •Eurostat •government departments •links to a variety of existing applications Produced by: •The Programmable City project •All-Island research Observatory (AIRO) at Maynooth University •working with Dublin City Council Funded by : •the European Research Council (ERC) •Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)
  65. 65. References: Tracey P. Lauriault, 2012, Data, Infrastructures and Geographical Imaginations. Ph.D. Thesis, Carleton University, Ottawa, available at Rob Kitchin and Tracey P. Lauriault, Small Data, Data Infrastructures and Big Data , The Programmable City Working Paper 1, Social Science Research Network, available at Rob Kitchin and Tracey P. Lauriault, 2014, Towards critical data studies: Charting and unpacking data assemblages and their work, The Programmable City Working Paper 2, Social Science Research Network, available at Tracey P. Lauriault, 2014, Republic of Ireland’s Open Data Strategy: Observations and Recommendations, The Programmable City Working Paper 3, Available at open-data-strategy-observations-and-recommendations / Tracey P. Lauriault and Peter Mooney, 2014, Crowdsourcing: A Geographic Approach to Public Engagement, Programmable City Working Paper 6, Social Science Research Network, available at Tracey p. Lauriault, 2014, Big Data Series: Critical Analysis of the Irish Big Data Skills Report, Programmable City, available at skills-report Rob Kitchin and Tracey P. Lauriault, 2014, Small data in the era of big data, GeoJournal, available at Programmable City Blog,
  66. 66. Slide Image References References: Slide 13: Blue Marble: Slide 15: MAP: Form: Canadian Century Research Infrastructure (CCRI), 2011, Scanned Copies of Census Schedules and Questionnaires for 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911, 1921, 1931, 1941, 1951, accessed November 7, 2011 from Slide 17: Map: Slide 22: Map Slide 38: All editions of the Atlas of Canada Slide 43 Maps: Comparison of Scales Aeronautical charts Soil Survey MAP Hydrographic Charts Slide 44 Relief Maps: 1st - 2nd - 3rd - 4th - 4th 5th - 6th - Slide 45 Relief map: Slide 47 Image: Environment Canada (EC), 1981, Ecological Land Survey Guidelines for Environmental Impact Analysis, Ecological Land Classification Series Number 13, Environmental Conservation Service Task Force, Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada. Slide 48 Maps: 1st – Telephone Eastern 2nd - Telegraphs – Ontario and Quebec [circa 1915] 3rd – Television & Radio 4th - Communications, 1967 – Eastern Canada 5th - Telecommunications Systems, 1984 Slide 49 Maps:,-Telegraphs---Quebec-and-Mari Slide 50 Maps: 1st – Territorial Divisions 1st – International Boundaries East 2nd – Territorial Divisions 2nd – International Boundaries West 3rd – Mapping the Coasts, 1492 to 1874 3rd – Political Evolution 1763- 1949 4th - Territorial Evolution of Canada, 1667 to 1873 4th - Territorial Evolution of Canada, 1876 to 1949 5th - Territorial Evolution, 1867 to 1981 6th - Territorial Evolution, 1867 to 1999 6th - New France circa 1740 Slides 53-57 Maps: Bilingualism and Biculturalism, Royal Commission on, 1965, A Preliminary Report, Ottawa: the Queen’s Printer. Bilingualism and Biculturalism, Royal Commission on, 1967, Volume I, Ottawa: The Queen’s Printer. Bilingual Districts Advisory Board, 1971, Recommendations of the Bilingual Districts Advisory Board March 1971, Ottawa: Information Ottawa. Bilingual Districts Advisory Board, 1975, Report of the Bilingual Districts Advisory Board, Ottawa: Information Ottawa. Slide 62 Images: DPER/Insight, 2014, Best Practices Handbook, Life Cycle Management of Digital Datasets (Digital Curation Centre) Image by GeoConnections Canada, shared via email, Slides 63-64 Timelines: Timeline Produced by: Tracey P. Lauriault, for Tracey P. Lauriault and Rob Kitchin, 2014, A genealogy of data assemblages: tracing the geospatial open access and open data movements in Canada, AAG Session 4204, Data-based living: peopling and placing ‘big data, Tampa, Florida, April 11 2014