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Space and Technics

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Samuel Kinsley
added a research item
Geographers and other social scientists have for some time been interested in how scientific and environmental controversies emerge and become public or collective issues. Social media are now key platforms through which these issues are publically raised and through which groups or publics can organise themselves. As media that generate data and traces of networking activity, these platforms also provide an opportunity for scholars to study the character and constitution of those groupings. In this paper we lay out a method for studying these 'issue publics': emergent groupings involved in publicising an issue. We focus on the controversy surrounding the state-sanctioned cull of wild badgers in England as a contested means of disease management in cattle. We analyse two overlapping groupings to demonstrate how online issue publics function in a variety of ways-from the 'echo chambers' of online sharing of information, to the marshalling of agreements on strategies for action, to more dialogic patterns of debate. We demonstrate the ways in which digital media platforms are themselves performative in the formation of issue publics and that, while this creates issues, we should not retreat into debates around the 'proper object' of research but rather engage with the productive complications of mapping social media data into knowledge (Whatmore, 2009). In turn, we argue that online issue publics are not homogeneous and that the lines of heterogeneity are neither simple or to be expected and merit study as a means to understand the suite of processes and novel contexts involved in the emergence of a public.
Samuel Kinsley
added an update
I recently gave a keynote paper at the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (Germany) concerning the some geographers address the task of theorising space in relation to what gets called "digital". I am not interested in asserting a 'correct' theory but rather in investigating how theorising gets done. In this I look at the role of abstraction and diagrams in relation to particular kinds of metaphors and concepts. I hope to write this up as a journal article soon, you can find the presentation file here: . I welcome any comments, feedback or suggestions - either for the paper or for a possible venue for publication.
 
Samuel Kinsley
added 2 research items
This chapter explores subjects/subjectivities in relation to digital geographies. I begin from the premise that there is no distinctly digital ‘subject’ or ‘subjectivity’. Rather, the forms of subject or subjectivity studied as ‘digital’ are homologous with and bound up with wider understandings of those concepts. I identify key ways in which geographers have and perhaps should contend with ideas of personhood and agency in relation to 'the digital'.
In this lecture I focus on the ways in which digital mediation has been variously characterised as: outside of spatial understanding somehow; unreal or a sort of fantasy; a kind of split between two realms; and/or not subject to the rules by which we understand our ‘normal’ forms of spatial experience. In particular I want to talk through the ways of theorising spatial experience that emerge. These are mostly about how to understand how we use language to describe unfamiliar phenomena. A good deal of what we will explore is spatial metaphors and the ways in which they take on particular kinds of value or agency. Terms like ‘cyberspace’ which we might now find dated are an example often used but we might also think about the ways in which we are asked to believe in something called “the cloud”, which more-or-less elides the messy and perhaps banal reality of systems of data centres, servers, cables and so on.
Samuel Kinsley
added 11 research items
How affects, ideas, dispositions and ‘facts’ spread in a digitally mediated milieu is an increasingly prevalent component of how we interrogate the performance of the ‘social’. This paper uses recent and ongoing work around the idea of ‘contagion’ as a means to open up conceptual and methodological debates in order to chart such digital geographies. In particular, we reflect on work concerning the contagion of ideas in social media through searching, scraping and graphing techniques (Marres and Weltevrede, 2013) to ask how do things spread, or better, how can we access the bio-social atmospheres that are the very conditions for contagion? Exploring the affects of technological ‘black-boxing’, in proprietary digital networks, highlights both the challenges and the potentials of social media research. Thus, in this paper we critically reflect on the practices and technological engagements that underpin investigations of data and online life. Using examples of events performed with and through social media, this paper will explore the rise of ‘digital contagions’, their architecture and formation of networks. Such activities allow for understandings of how contagious atmospheres arise and how little of our thinking, reasoning, emotions or even our cells are ‘ours’. From micro-biomes to somnambulant subjectivities, ‘we’ are, it seems, porous selves. This porosity has been understood for over a century (Deleuze and Guattari, 2004; Tarde, 1899, 1902, 1903, 2012) but it is only now, as Latour and Lipenay (2009) and others (for example: Sampson, 2012) have argued, that we can start to navigate the bio-social using the affordances of digital trace data. Nevertheless, this remains challenging work and this paper critically engages with both the opportunities and difficulties present in researching our digitally mediated porous selves.