The “List” issue of M/C Journal edited by Rowan Wilken and Anthony McCosker has just been published which includes a short article I wrote about representations of supermarket space through RFID and QR code based assistive technologies for the vision impaired.
From the issue’s editorial:
… in “Lists, Spatial Practice, and Assistive Technologies for the Blind,” Jethani explores the promise and perils of locative mobile media technologies designed to assist vision-impaired supermarket shoppers. Examining two prototypic applications, Shop Talk and Blind Shopping, Jethani argues that “the emancipatory potential” of these applications, “their efficacy in practical situations,” and their future commercial viability, is dependent upon commercial and institutional infrastructures and control, regulatory factors, and the extent to which they can successfully address “issues of interoperability and expanded access of spatial inventory databases and data.”
There is then a politics to place construction ranging dialectically across material, representational, and symbolic activities which find their hallmark in the way in which individuals invest in places and thereby empower themselves collectively by virtue of investment. The investment can be of blood, sweat, tears and labour. Or it can be discursive construction of affective loyalties through preservation of particular imaginaries of place, of environment, and of vernacular traditions, or through new works of art and architecture to celebrate and become symbolic of some special place.
David Harvey Justice Nature and the Geography of Difference (1996:323).
Felix Guattari (1989) in The Three Ecologies:
Any social ecological programme will have to aim therefore to shift capitalist societies out of the era of the mass media and into a post-media age in which the media will be reappropriated by a multitude of subject-group. This vision of a mass media culture redirected toward the goal of re-singularisation may well seem far beyond our scope today; yet we should recognise that the current situation of maximal media-induced alienation is in no sense an intrinsic necessity. Media fatalism seems to me to imply a misunderstanding of several factors:
1. the potential for sudden upsurges of mass awareness;
2. the possibilities of new transformative assemblages of social struggles
3. the potential use of mass media technology for non-capitalist ends
4. the increased production, both on the individual and collective level of a subjectivity that arises out of the reconstruction of labour processes.
Uncovering cartographic affinities and unities within a world of highly expressive difference appears more and more the key problematic of the times. This is the political mission that any dialectical theory of historical-geographical materialism must address.
Discovering the nature of such connections and learning to translate politically between them is a problem for detailed research. Theoretically, the cogency and political power of the materialist version of the relational view appears as remarkable and as exhaustive as it is dialectically consistent.
David Harvey (1996: 290) in Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference.
To begin with, space and time, once they are set, are a primary means to individuate and identify objects, people, relations, processes, and events. Location and bounding are important if not vital attributes for the definition of the objects, events and relationships existing in the world around us. To choose one ordering principle rather than another is to choose a particular spatio-temporal framework for describing the world. The choice is not neutral with respect to what we can describe. The absolute theory of space and time always forces us into a framework of mechanistic descriptions, for example that conceal from view important properties of the world (such as those of living organisms) that stand only to be revealed by a relational view. To choose the wrong framework is to misidentify elements of the world around us.
David Harvey, (1996) Justice, Nature & the Geography of Distance p. 264
R. Buckminster Fuller in Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth
Then there came a time … when the most powerful out-pirates challenged the in-pirates with scientific and technological innovation of an entirely new geometry of thinking. The out-pirates attack went under and above the sea surface and into the invisible realm of electronics and chemical warfaring. Caught off-guard, the in-pirates, in order to save themselves, had to allow their scientists to work on their own inscrutable terms. Thus in saving themselves, the Great Pirates allowed the scientists to plunge their grand industrial logistics, support strategy into the vast ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum that were utterly invisible to the pirates.
The pirates until then had ruled the world through their extraordinarily keen senses. They judged things for themselves, and they didn’t trust anyone else’s eyes. They trusted only that which they could personally smell, hear, touch or see. But the great pirates couldn’t see what was going on in the vast ranges of electro-magnetic reality. Technology was going from wire to wireless, from track to trackless, from pipe to pipeless, and from visible structural muscle to the invisible chemical element strengths of metallic alloys and electro-magnetics (1963:33-4).
Jussi Parikka in Insect Media:
“All relations are enabled by a pre-individual reality of potentials and virtuality, and this transindividual element that beings share is what affords collective assemblages as well” (2010: xxv).