I’ve been intrigued with Lisa Parks’ presentation at Where 2.0 last week. Personally, I like the topic because I study the exact same stuff in my day job—when I’m not Twittering. Yet, it had an air of ignorance in it. It was observed from a cultural studies, almost post-modern view. It might be an observation from the outside that we don’t care for, but it is interesting and a needed perspective.
So, do we think of the effect of our media? Those media that are representations of real life in spatial terms.
We could put some deep thought into this for years and months, but for any geo-types who feel like Parks gave us a bum rap, and for those who may want to challenge her assumptions about geo as a medium, then start off by reading a paper by Daniel Sui and Mike Goodchild. It’s called, “A tetradic analysis of GIS and society using McLuhan’s law of the media.”
This paper argues that GIS are increasingly becoming media for communicating various crucial social and environmental information to the general public. By reconceptualizing GIS as media, the paper conducts a detailed tetradic analysis on the social implications of GIS using Marshall McLuhan’s law of media. The analysis reveals the paradoxical and ambivalent nature of GIS technology. To make GIS fulfill democratic ideals in society, this paper calls for a shift of perspective, from viewing them as instruments for problem‐solving to viewing them as media for communication. This shift from instrumental to communicative rationality enables us to examine more critically and holistically how space, people and environment have been represented, manipulated and visualized in GIS and thus promotes a more critical and democratic GIS practice. [Emphasis mine]
For all things GeoWeb, this starts you off with some perspective where Parks was trying to come from. It did for me, and it’s probably why I’m reading books on media ecology and cultural geography of media. It’s a crazy shift for a kind of paleo/neogeography guy like myself, but just its another way of studying geography and our impact on place and people.
Understanding geo as a medium will help you realize the impact and design of your applications… As well as debating the academic film and media department’s evaluation of your lifestyle.