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- Author: Alex Gekker x
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The digital era has brought about huge transformations in the map itself, which to date have been largely conceptualised in spatial terms. The emergence of novel objects, forms, processes and approaches in the digital era has, however, posed a swathe of new, pressing questions about the temporality of digital maps and contemporary mapping practices, and in spite of its implicit spatiality, digital mapping is strongly grounded in time. In this peer-reviewed collection we bring time back into the map, taking up Doreen Massey's critical concern for 'ongoing stories' in the world, but asking how mapping continues to wrestle with the difficulty of enrolling time into these narratives, often seeking to ‘freeze’ and ‘fix’ the world, in lieu of being able to, in some way, represent, document or capture dynamic phenomena. This collection examines how these processes are impacted by digital cartographic technologies that, arguably, have disrupted our understanding of time as much as they have provided coherence. The book consists of twelve chapters that address different kinds of digital mapping practice and analyse these in relation to temporality. Cases discussed range from locative art projects, OpenStreetMap mapping parties, sensory mapping, Google Street View, visual mapping, smart city dashboards and crisis mapping. Authors from different disciplinary positions consider how a temporal lens might focus attention on different aspects of digital mapping. This kaleidoscopic approach generates a rich plethora for understanding the temporal modes of digital mapping. The interdisciplinary background of the authors allows multiple positions to be developed.
This introductory chapter situates ensuing arguments about the relations between mapping and temporality made by the contributors to this collection. It deploys two cases: (1) the film Back to the Future, and (2) the rise of digital mapping, to exemplify complex aspects of these relations and to highlight the ways in which temporality, as well as space, makes a difference in digital times. A grounding of temporal thinking is deployed to explore the intellectual forces that underpin different ways authors in the book reflect on time as against space in this context. A justification is provided for the sectional layout into ephemerality/mobility, stitching memories, and (in)formalising, and basic introductions to subsequent chapter arguments are made.
This concluding chapter stresses the implications of arguments made by authors in the different sections of the book; highlighting possible broader research questions surrounding digital mapping and temporality that arise. In particular, in relation to the first section of the book, it suggests research might usefully attend to relations of spatiality and temporality, focus on the difficulties of distinguishing between the ephemeral and epochal, and investigate temporal consequences stemming from layering implicit in digital mapping. From the second section, it suggests research might attend more to the possibilities of resistance in the face of technological inevitability, that research might focus on methods for understanding affordances arising in the stitching together of everyday memories in a transient technological age, and suggests we might focus more on places than on spaces in that context. From the final section, it suggests that conceptual, material and anticipatory logics underpinning the organisation of time in digital mapping demand attention. Together, these directions highlight the profoundly social consequences of a shift towards temporality.