outline map on black background with glowing lines to illustrate data connections

Situation, place & geography

In a previous post, we listed the themes the Ego-Media team will cover in the essays in our digital publication. This week, we’re trailing the essay on situations. The lead author of this essay is Dr. Rob Gallagher and this post offers a brief outline of some of the issues the essay will explore.

In 2019 many of us feel thoroughly at home on the internet. WiFi-enabled smartphones have made it (hypothetically) possible to get online anywhere, at any time. Services like Skype enable us to chat with friends, family and contacts in other timezones; Google Maps, Citymapper and the like help us navigate unfamiliar environments.

woman using an app with a map on a  tablet to choose a restaurant
Finding the best restaurant within walking distance is great. But what if someone’s tracking us?

The changing dynamics of space & situation

These – and other – developments (including augmented or mixed, and virtual reality technologies) have changed the dynamics of space and situation, reorienting our relationships, our identities and even our biographies.

But while the web has fostered communication, collaboration and solidarity (at least for those of us privileged enough to take access for granted), it has also enabled and boosted xenophobia, conspiracy-mongering and hate speech, not to mention state and corporate surveillance: digital technology may have made it easier to find our way around, but it has also made us easier to find and follow. And that’s not always a good thing.

sat nav image of roundabout

Questions the Ego-Media Project has addressed

Our essay on situation will explore some of the ways the Ego-Media Project has addressed issues of situation, place and geography. The questions we’ve asked include:

• Does it still make sense to distinguish between online and offline life, public and private space?
• How are familiar situations changed by the presence of networked devices?
• How do individual web users attempt strike a balance between the desire to share and the desire to keep certain information to themselves?
• How do relationships formed in particular online spaces translate into other contexts?
• What role can digital technologies play for isolated individuals and geographically dispersed communities, particularly those managing medical conditions that motivate them to seek support, advice and understanding?
• Why do people behave differently on ‘sites’ like Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter, and what makes these platforms feel like distinct ‘spaces’ or ‘neighbourhoods’?
• Can ‘smart’ homes and cities help us to live greener, safer lives, or is this just marketing spin on the part of companies greedy for more of our data?

Geography still matters

What do you think?

Find out more about the Ego-Media team’s projects

Written by:

Dr Lisa Gee is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate on the Ego-Media Project