A few cultural geographies of tech

As it’s/they’re now a sort of trend, here’s a few recently published papers that offer some  cultural geographies of tech…

Being in a mediated world: self-tracking and the mind–body–environment

Sarah PinkVaike Fors

Self-tracking is an increasingly ubiquitous everyday activity and therefore is becoming implicated in the ways that everyday environments are experienced and configured. In this article, we examine theoretically and ethnographically how the digital materiality of these technologies mediates and participates in the constitution of people’s tacit ways of being in the world. We argue that accounting for the presence of such technologies as part of everyday environments in this way offers new insights for non-representational accounts of everyday life as developed in geography and anthropology and advances existing understandings of these technologies as it has emerged in sociology and media studies.

The GoPro gaze

Phillip Vannini, Lindsay M Stewart

During 2014–2015, we produced a short video documentary, titled The Art of Wild, which focused on the audiovisual practices of outdoor adventurers. This short written report reflects on an idea inspired by the video: the GoPro gaze. Enacted by increasingly sophisticated, portable and affordable recording audiovisual technologies such as the GoPro Hero camera, the ‘GoPro gaze’ entails not just the pursuit of pleasures derived from adventure and nature-based travel, but also the production and distribution of professional-quality independent videos for Internet audiences. Based on a series of ‘go-along’ interviews with adventure travelers/athletes/artists, this article and the accompanying video prompt us to reflect on how the affective pleasures and technological affordances of the ‘GoPro gaze’ trouble the established idea of the ‘tourist gaze’.

The lit world: living with everyday urban automation

Sarah Pink & Shanti Sumartojo

In this article, we develop and advance the concept of the lit world by bringing together literatures about everyday lighting, automation in everyday life and human perception, along with our ethnographic research into people’s experience of automated lighting in Melbourne, Australia. In doing so we formulate and argue for an approach to automation that situates it as part of everyday mundane worlds and acknowledges its entanglement with the emergent and experiential qualities of everyday environments as they unfold. We demonstrate this through the example of automated lighting, understood as a situated technology that has contingent effects and participates in the making of particular ways of seeing and feeling the world. We thereby argue for an account of automation that reaches beyond its potential for the management of human (and other) behaviour, to ask how the qualities and affordances of automated technologies might seep out of their intended domains, and create new perceptual and experiential opportunities. In a context where automation is increasingly prevalent in everyday life, such attention to the experience and use of automated technologies which already exist on a large scale is needed. Urban lighting is an example par excellence of automation in the world because it has a long history beyond the recent association of automated technologies with code and digital infrastructures. As scholars debate how automated technologies will become part of our future digital lives, understanding how people live in a lit world offers a starting point for considering how we might live with other anticipated algorithmic forms of automation.

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