aag99 - The Association of American Geographers 95th Annual...

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The Association of American Geographers 95 th Annual Meeting, 23-27 th March 1999, Honolulu, Hawaii Mapping the Network Society Martin Dodge * & Rob Kitchin # Abstract This paper critically examines the maps being produced to represent and promote the so called network society. Drawing on the deconstructionists approach pioneered by Brian Harley, we attempt to read and expose the “second text” of the geographic maps of the Internet, Cyberspace and the network society. We examine, in detail, maps that display, with varying degrees of subtlety, the ideological agendas of Cyberboosterism of their creators. These maps are important because they are widely reproduced and consumed without critical comment. Many contain serious problems of ecological fallacies and commonly use choropleth cartographic methods. 15 th March 1999 http://www.casa.ucl.ac.uk/martin/aag99.pdf * Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT. M.Dodge@ucl.ac.uk # Department of Geography National University of Ireland, Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland. Rob.Kitchin@may.ie
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2 Introduction In this paper we critically examine the maps and visual images of the network society. A large trope of maps are being produced as important elements of the rhetoric of the market-driven network society project. Understanding the rhetorical power of maps has come to the fore in the field of cartography in the past ten or so years, lead by the deconstructionist work of Brian Harley (1989, 1992) and Denis Wood (1992). Our aim is to apply a critical reading of the geographic maps of the Internet, the network society and Cyberspace that are increasing prevalent, both online and in print. In Peter Whitfield's splendid map anthology, "The Image of the World: 20 Centuries of World Maps" , he traces the long cultural evolution of world maps from the classical Ptolemic foundations, through the Hereford Mappa Mundi of the 13 th century, Mercator in 1569, colonial maps, right up to the 1990s (Whitfield 1994). Importantly, he asserts the political and cultural power represented by the maps, going beyond simply a consideration of their communicative role and aesthetic value. Whitfield says of the map that: " There is a natural assumption that maps offer objective depictions of the world. The message of this book is that they do not, and that the innumerable ways in which they do not, serve to place maps as central and significant products of their parent cultures. " (Whitfield 1994:viii). Interestingly, Whitfield's anthology stops short of the network society, finishing with a satellite map from 1990 showing global sea temperature during an El Niño event. What is missing from his book is some consideration of Cyberspace Mappa Mundi. In many ways we are attempting to continue Whitfield's deconstruction into the Information Age by examining the geographic maps of Cyberspace. In the last twenty years Cyberspace has been developed at the convergence of telecommunications and computers, forming global communications networks used by millions (Benedikt 1992, Kitchin 1998). Many maps and visual representations have
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aag99 - The Association of American Geographers 95th Annual...

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