Mapping everything

Mapping everything

Interessante texto de Jessica Clark, “The New Cartographers What does it mean to map everything all the time?” (via Locative Media) esclarece pontos interessantes que coloquei recentemente em minhas últimas comunicações em Alberta e Madrid (no final desse post).


“We no longer go to maps to find out where we are. Instead, we tell maps where we are and they form around us on the fly. (…) Maps are everywhere these days. The ubiquity of global positioning systems (GPS) and mobile directional devices, interactive mapping tools and social networks is feeding a mapping boom. Amateur geographers are assigning coordinates to everything they can get their hands on—and many things they can’t. ‘Locative artists’ are attaching virtual installations to specific locales, generating imaginary landscapes brought vividly to life in William Gibson’s latest novel, Spook Country. Indeed, proponents of ‘augmented reality’ suggest that soon our current reality will be one of many ‘layers’ of information available to us as we stroll down the street. Like other technological innovations, this trend gives with one hand and takes with the other. For some, mapping has become a vibrant new language – a way to interpret the world, find like-minded folks and make fresh, sometimes radical, perspectives visible. For others, maps portend threats to privacy and freedom of movement. Just see Privacy International’s Map of Surveillance Societies Around the World, which classifies the United States as an ‘endemic surveillance society.’

(…) Google Maps Mania, a personal blog run by Canadian Mike Pegg, documents the world as seen from hundreds of different perspectives. You can track UFOs, point yourself toward Mecca, find out where your pet fish is from or browse books by their geographical location. Or, if you’re the Secret Service, you can request that Vice President Dick Cheney’s house be blurred on Google Maps for security purposes. After all, no one likes being watched, right?

(…) Multimedia designer Sha Sha Feng recently completed a Master of Fine Arts project at Hunter College in New York titled “MapaboutMaps,” using Google Earth as a platform to host video interviews about new directions in mapping with geographers, artists and programmers. (…) Feng was particularly interested in examining the role maps can play in building community. She interviewed Wendy Brawer, the founder of Greenmap Systems, a website that engages local mapping teams to chart their communities’ natural and green living landmarks, including farmers markets, organic food producers, fair trade shops, indigenous sites and the best spots for star-gazing. ‘Maps are very personal objects,’ says Brawer. ‘People look for themselves on them.’ Participatory mapping tools have ‘opened the world of maps from a few to many,’ says Feng. “Maps are powerful tools. Many people take them as fact, but they tell the story that the creator wants you to see. Grassroots communities and artists welcome this technology because it allows their voices to be heard.’

(…) But while mashups and social software have opened the horizons of cartographic creativity, the maps themselves are still proprietary—Google and others license them and make them available to users as part of their marketing strategy.(…) In contrast, projects like OpenStreetMap eschew commercial or government-owned maps in favor of data generated directly by users. Volunteers generate ‘traces’ by walking or cycling routes while carrying a GPS tracker, and then upload the results and edit them online. Following the precepts of open source software and Wikipedia, the project encourages collaboration and makes the results free for others to use. The site has a lively discussion board populated by amateur geographers, many of whom organize ‘mapping parties’ to survey specific locations.

(…) In many ways, these mapping tools are re-locating us as the center of our personal universes. We no longer go to maps to find out where we are. Instead, we tell maps where we are and they form around us on the fly, a sensation that can be comforting or stifling. After all, while finding the right map can orient you, having dozens can threaten to tip the signal-to-noise ratio toward cacophony. On balance, though, the democratization of mapping and visualization tools generates possibilities for self-expression and social action. Two decades ago, postmodern theorist Frederic Jameson argued that developing new maps would be central for activists hoping to grapple with the emerging global business and communication systems. ‘[The] incapacity to map socially is as crippling to political experience as the analogous incapacity to map spatially is for urban experience,’ he wrote. The tools are now available. The question now: Where do we go from here?”.

Escrevi recentemente:

“The uses of maps and mappings process are unprecedented. With new locative media systems mapping is new practice of place. Maybe we’re realizing the idea of Borges in “Del Rigor en la Ciencia” (1960) where the map has the dimension of the territory. The map is the territory. Mapping my moves on the streets is controlling the space, is territorialization. The use of GPS and other devices for location and location-based services puts emphasis on control and domination over a territory.

Deterritorialization is getting lost. Controlling or losing control, the locative media is given new functions to places. We have also a social changing. Technicians, governments and private companies controlled mapping. Now we have an ownership shift because the bureaucratic power is now moving to the users, ordinary people. With electronic popular mapping, the urban space is being used as a tactic for produce sense in daily life, dealing with the constraints of rationalization in urban modernity. We know that maps are constructions, ideologies represented in the world and serve, always, to the constitutive powers. Today maps can be produced to represent people, community, a more legitimate space and place that show how people see and fell their environment. We have a button-up process of representing the world, not mediated by the instituted powers.”