Ash, Kitchin, Leszczynski on what ‘digital’ means for geography

Saw this only this morning, blogged over on The Programmable City website. Looks like a fairly comprehensive description of a set of issues within geography.

New paper: Digital Turn, Digital Geography?

James Ash, Rob Kitchin and Agnieszka Leszczynski have published a new paper entitled ‘Digital Turn, Digital Geography?‘ available as Programmable City Working Paper 17 on SSRN.


In this paper, we examine the relationship between the digital and geography. Our analysis provides an overview of the rich scholarship that has examined: (1) geographies of the digital, (2) geographies produced by the digital, and (3) geographies produced through the digital. Using this material we reflect on two questions: has there been a digital turn in geography? and, would it be productive to delimit ‘digital geography’ as a field of study within the discipline, as has recently occurred with the attempt to establish ‘digital anthropology’ and ‘digital sociology’? We argue that while there has been a digital turn across geographical sub-disciplines, the digital is now so pervasive in mediating the production of space and in producing geographic knowledge that it makes little sense to delimit digital geography as a distinct field. Instead, we believe it is more productive to think about how the digital reshapes many geographies

I would say, having only skim-read the paper, that it does sort of perpetuate a disquiet I’ve felt for some time about how a particular ind of discursive regime, with a particular set of power brokers, is being built around the “geographies” prefixed with ‘algorithmic’; ‘data’; ‘digital’… perhaps there are some others… and what that might mean… maybe its just that there are only a few people that actually write stuff about this and they all know each other… anglophone geography is after all quite a small discipline. Maybe I’m a part of that too, with the little I’ve written on the subject. However, its evident in other disciplinary contexts too, such as the way in which particular people seem to be the leading lights in ‘digital sociology‘.

Maybe I’m just performing my own anxiety about career, struggling to write myself and being on probation in an institution with rather lofty expectations, but maybe there’s also something to my observation about the politics of being a researcher of a modish subject. Perhaps people who do stuff on the ‘anthropocene’ and anthropogenic climate change feel similarly, perhaps not… Perhaps I’m also damaging my own ‘career’ by blogging like this. Who knows… I certainly don’t mean it as a slight to the authors of the above paper, or anyone else.

How I learned to stopped worrying and to love discipline

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