This 2-day interdisciplinary workshop aims to explore mapping as a specific research field for interrogating the role of cultural research within a rapidly technologising, urban ecology. The 2 day event will include guest speakers, paper presentations, and collaborative mapping of two highly contested local and global urban scenarios.

Central to the issues explored are:
mapping types and processes
power relations in mapping practices

The intention is to develop a multiplicity of critical mapping discourses for each scenario through interdisciplinary dialogues. For details about the workshop please contact Associate Professor Kaye Shumack k.shumack@uws.edu.au

for more information go to http://www.commarts.uws.edu.au/mappingecologies/?page_id=6

Data  -> Database -> Real World

•    The languages of new media
•    Data -> database -> real world ?
•    Database already a piece of the real world
•    In the real world, our interpretation or engagement with data?
•    Free range data – dynamic linkages to crowd sourced material
•    What is the difference between data and a database?
•    Interpretation/translation/representation
•    Maonovich database vs narrative, Jameson – orienting in disorienting world, Morton – importance to perceive global patterns
•    Database as perspective
•    Reciprocal influence (database is in the world, produces knowledge that changes the work, which changes the nature of the database)
•    The stretch of communication/information as interpreted by human beings
•    Interpretations
•    Means of production
•    Access to data?
•    Isnot a database an individual or working parties interpretation of data?
•    Data is dumb

•    The Real World
•    We access bits of it through our conceptual models
•    Is pushed in front of you (why or how is it pushed?)
•    Perception – business time in London is casual time in USA

•    The Database
•    Is it still a number anymore? A picture of pixels (Manovich)
•    Does include a motion from quantitative to qualitative – adding other types of information (narratives, news, flickr…) ex archival material, radio, TV?
•    We need databases to approximate and make sense

•    The Data
•    Is still a collection of samples e.g. Flickr mostly takes photos of popular places. Or an alternative view: FLickr is not capturing places, predominantly about experience rather than locations..

•    Chronology: databases exist in time
•    Air quality, spoil, census samples are all take at different times
•    Invisible aspect of the quality of the relationships between the different data types within a database
•    So, from data -> database-> Real at 3 specific times
•    But real world is also an individual understanding of experience in relation to database (conceptual models)

•    Data – database – realworld
•    Cyclic process with the database having material affects
•    Question of difference of data covered here as elsewhere

•    Discussion of database as alternative to Narrative (Mannovich)
•    Database as a vantage from which to act

•    Questions – sampling bias in inclusion of data in DB
•    Is data still only digital, eg. Photos (again Manovich), rich data/qual data (photos interviews etc) can broaden the uses and conceptual models related to a DB

•    Chronology of DB – time is always an aspect of data


•    Integrity -> meta information -> comprehensive?
•    Traditional
•    Social context
•    Flickr photos

•    Reusability of vast amounts of data – processing efficiency, usability, finding the data
•    Data and data separations are a language
•    Gluttony of data – a lot of data very varied (people, flickr, facebook, profiles) linkage with other types of information
•    How do we assess accuracy? Context, objective data vs subjective data
•    What is data? distance to it
•    ‘my photos have meaning to me, they are not data!’
•    data is what operations are performed on, dalgorithic understanding predictive or representing ‘world’
•    data collection ~ data gathering/mining
•    perception of accuracy – accuracy of the final database (database development)
•    is it data? based in distinction
•    does data always exist or do we create it?
•    Qant data as something that can be counted/measured
•    Qual data – cannot be directly compared
•    Data – dumb/passive
•    Information – interpretation/translation
•    Knowledge?
•    Epistemological questions on data as world view, the meaning of operational knowledge/ the role of positivism
•    The value of humour in the interpretation of data – is it useful?
•    Does an organic notion dictate that nothing can ever be accurately dated? Data(ed)
•    What the opposite of data? (data = illusion of accuracy)
•    What is the relationship between data and information?
•    Is there data in negotiation?
•    Collecting data  vs collecting image?
•    Forms of data – narratives, pictures, statistics?
•    Can data transform the world?
•    Information sovereignty – who owns data?
•    Another issue/consideration: data accuracy vs data precision
•    Check out the ‘D474” googel group

Data  Representation

•    Ticking/manipulating – user to accept map as being true representation
•    Propaganda/bias in mapping
•    Over simplified – powerpoint effect

•    Acceptance
•    1932 i-pad (LUG Map/Beck), AG/the New
•    are they used? Are they understood?
•    New technology = exclusion – digital divide
•    Data representation is where ‘art’ comes to play the most dominant role
•    Materiality is important assuming that the only place things will be in online
•    Material you choose to use has it own identity

•    Metaphor
•    What is a ‘good one’
•    Describe data
•    Has social investment
•    Productive – decisions made on ‘simplifications’ of the messag
•    Leave out the unwanted (who decides?) – linked to choice of appropriate metaphor
•    Choice of metaphor acknowledges attributes of metaphor, cultural meanings are attached to choice

•    Bias in maps
•    European view of the world, assumed objectivity
•    Bias of tools
•    Maps look better than they are, built in set of assumptions

•    People have bot been taught to question maps, users are not critical, maps can only show ‘selection’ of reality, automatic bias
•    Which metaphor is most appropriate to purpose and available data
•    Producing maps for self -> users  forced to learn the ‘rules’ of cartography

•    How do you represent data with affect
•    High end graphics? Filtered out
•    To lend credibility degrading images, how do you measure credibility?
•    It is through effective communication of information or accurate recording of information
•    CAD diagram may be accurate but user mat not be able to relate to it (preferring a sketch which they understood)
•    Frank Gehry
•    Visualisation – senses
•    Disconnection between user, software designer and cartographer
•    Sese of the pther – framing is about putting a comfortable distance from the viewer. Framing in arts and cartography is somewhere similar: either you are in or out?
•    Can bring what is out – in?
•    Oral exchange were probably the first database (sourced of data) than drawing the text, than photographs, then computure, the we don’t really need previous one!

•    Is there a removal from the person designing the software and the user?

•    Here are the senses? Where is the haud?
•    With the computure the hand and the body, become useless (except for the brain)

Conceptual Models behind Database Use

•    Scale/effect -/pattern
•    Medatadata
•    At what level of abstract should the conceptual model be?
•    Data and the force of the law/administration
•    Data is always abstract
•    Data is the act of observing something (record)
•    Anything can be data – model come in to approach of a particular thing
•    Information extracted from the thing ~ extraction process

•    Conceptual model – relational
•    Object orientated – levels of abstraction important
•    Key behind any conceptual model is importance of metadata
•    The higher you are from the detail – the further you are from reality

•    Inter-subjective nature of the data and the DB
•    Filtering of views & access – power, penatratability

•    Considerations in designging the DB – people now access data – who are the people?
•    What is the intention behind the database?
•    More that people have access to data, than what it was designed for.
•    Digital environments might be subject to hacking or unexpected interaction
•    People can change systems 0 but its not possible for people to access the background
•    When you are at the pattern level you can’t see the detail (the difference between the near and the far view) the less you see the detail, the more you see


Conceptual Model

Data doesn’t care
Database and it conceptual model is where certain values become evident – the database cares
Relativity – database patterns, details
Thinking about the impact of the database

Data -> DB -> Real World

Material effects of the DB – info has material affects in the real world – leads to actions

DB as an alternate narrative
Sampling bias – inclusion/exclusion
Qual data opens up new possibilities
Time/temporality – how can we compare such things?


Gluttony/ the amount of data available
Degrees of quality and character
Non-scientific data but still data

Accuracy/ relativity – maluable, biased and contextual
Not always evident social contexts –
Good = usable – rich info, rich ability to be linked to other kinds of data
Methodology for grouping is important – data is context specific

Data is dumb – data relies on correlation to make meaning and have sense.
Observations – social observations

Data Representation

Maetaphor – credibility – bias (collector/viewer), perspective
People’s beliefs in maps – selected realities
Problem of over simplification and impacts on integrity
Digital divide
Possibility of not conveying life effectively – materiality, material language, subsequent potential influence on the connection of an idea
How is credibility arrived at?
Disconnection between the people involved in the production of the outcome
Framing – controlled views, comfortable views
Technical limitations and relevance to the end users perception

Workshop participants

Thank you to all the participants for their contributions to the workshop and for the very stimulating presentations, discussions and activities. Some of the presentations are accessible in the program section of this blog. We will continue to use this blog to provide more information about the future outcomes of this workshop (e.g. book, exhibit, web site).

From left to right: Lynn Rosentrater, Kathy Waghorn, Tom Weatherburn, Aaron Baxter, Aubyn O’Grady, Laurene Vaughan, Sarah Kanouse, Sven Fuhrmann, Glenn Braue, Jackie Anderson, Annalise Rees, Virginia Antonijevic, Maryclare Foa & William Cartwright (note: Sébastien Caquard & John Calvelli appear on the following picture).

Pictures taken on September 10th, 2010 near by the Turcot interchange in Montreal during a field activity led by Sarah Kanouse.


The latest pdf version of the program of the workshop is now available. You can take a look at it.

KMZ files added

We have added KMZ files to the database. You can download them, unzip them and use them directly in Google Earth. This might help to know the exact location of the different data layers in Montreal.

Since the post in “cartographies of the absolues” (see below) refers to Bill Bunge, his work could also serve as source of inspiration for the workshop (Here is an interesting post about his work… in French).

This is an interesting site to add to our thinking of how we map cities and the meanings of those mappings…

Geography Against Capitalism: Harvey avec Reclus


The Department of Geography, Planning and Environment at Concordia University in collaboration with the working group on Art & Cartography of the International Cartographic Association (ICA) and The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) is organizing a workshop entitled “Mapping” Environmental Issues in the City: Arts and Cartographic Cross Perspectives. This workshop will take place from September 8th to 10th, 2010 at Concordia University. For more details, please look at the call for proposals.