Monday, March 31, 2014

Egham to Richmond (return) via Feltham

Map made using QGIS 2.2

This little ride on Saturday tired me out.  First, I found a new path to Ashford but had to return home to report my findings and eat breakfast.  Then, I set out to retrace the path to Ashford, working my way beyond that safe zone of farm fields and ponds, towards Feltham, with the ultimate goal of Richmond.  The weather was fine, and I made it to Richmond in time to pick up a Ritter Sport chocolate bar and a smoothie before heading back home.  Here are some of the things I saw on the way there and back:

Cows in Ashford/Staines

On the old Roman road from Ashford to Feltham

Near Castle Road, Feltham

End of Castle Road, on Chertsey Road

Chertsey Road

Chertsey Road

Looks like a lovely little linear park
But I didn't have time to linger...

Remnants of flooding in Richmond

The lovely park in Richmond behind the high street

The bike

Near the castle on Castle Road

Castle Road

Castle Road

Frightening...knife and gun disposal unit

Spring time, on the way home


"It's impossible to have a truly objective map" says the interviewer in a story posted at  He's talking to Michael Blanding (author of the forthcoming The Map Thief), who goes on to explain the Borges story about the 1:1 map that covers the whole world.  Shrinking things to manageable size necessitates selection and generalisation, not to mention the production of cartography textbooks and manuals.  This, in a story about the cartographic battle for Crimea.

Crimea has been annexed by Russia, but it is not official until state departments, cartographers, and commercial mapmakers make maps reflecting the geopolitical shift.  Rand McNally and National Geographic have both been pulled into the battle for cartographic representation, but they are hedging their bets, waiting on the outcome of various diplomatic dealings and official statements as John Kerry and others do their work.

Google and Wikipedia are both mentioned.  Google, which is free but not open-source, has been badgered to make changes to its maps and it has so far resisted anything overtly political.  Wikipedia allows changes by users and a battle has ensued with edits and counter-edits being made to their map of Russia.

Listen to the audio here:
Crimea: Crisis of Cartographic Proportions

Place Memes 2.0

Place Memes is officially in a new re-vamped incarnation with (hopefully) better design, and an evolved sense of content.  Therefore I'm calling it version 2.0, even though the title of the blog stays the same (Place Memes).

This change coincides with receiving the cover art for my forthcoming book (Maps and Memes), appearing soon in the autumn 2014 catalogue of McGill-Queen's University Press, within the Native and Northern series.

It also coincides with the acceptance of a paper for the 2014 RGS-IBG meeting, entitled "Self-curation and the memetic academic," mentioned in the previous post.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

RGS-IBG 2014

A paper has been accepted for the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014, in the 4th session (Curation in the Digital Age) of a program called "Where Culture Meets Economy: Co-Producing Conceptual Understandings of Curation."  The overall session abstract follows:

"The concept of curation is attracting increasing levels of interest and engagement from scholars across geography. As the motivations, practices, materialities, spatial dynamics and outcomes of curation encompass the cultural and economic, research is being conducted from a range of perspectives. Cultural and historical geographers have studied exhibitionary geographies, explored the curation of art movements, and have recently taken up curatorial practice as part of their research practice. Economic geographers have started to examine the processes and spatial dynamics of curation in highly competitive cultural industries such as music and fashion where a range of actors, operating in a range of physical and virtual spaces, evaluate and ascribe value to specific products and experiences. As few attempts have been made to share and integrate these complementary approaches, this session brings together scholars from across geography to co-produce a more nuanced understanding of curation. In particular, the papers will explore the range of actors (individuals, algorithms, institutions, neighbourhoods), spatialities (museums, shops, streets, neighbourhoods, blogs) and values (economic, symbolic, cultural, social) associated with curation."

The working title of my paper is "Self-curation and the memetic academic."  This paper will present the Place Memes blog as an example of academic knowledge production in a web 2.0 paradigm.  Here is the abstract:

"This paper examines intersecting areas of concern between academia as increasingly invested in social media for the propagation of ideas, for peer review, and for promotion; and the artist as self-curating agent of change. I argue that academia and the arts increasingly overlap at a memetic level, in which self-selection and horizontal (i.e. spatial) transmission of information dominate. Empirically, this study uses a blog created and maintained by the author as a source of data for examining the question of the sustainability of the self-curating model of academia. Specifically, I examine the self-created blog Place Memes for evidence of peer-review, rigor and potential addition to the academic portfolio of the academic in question (myself). At the same time I look at how both visual essays and imagistic writing come to inform the 'artistic' side of the blog; and how this might be perceived in more 'traditional' academic circles. I conclude by speculating upon the shape of things to come, in terms of how horizontally transmitted self-curations might, through archiving practices and other forms of selection, transform themselves into vertically transmitted (temporally grounded) sustainable academic practices."