The Uneven Geography of the Web

FS Nairobi NovI was attracted to a short Guardian post this morning that asked the simple question – Who uses Twitter in Africa – and where are they based? Simple enough and a great little research question. The article references Mark Graham and the Oxford Internet Institute. The selection of eight quick maps gives a small glimpse at the power of being able to tap into the Twitter API and do some quick geospatial visualisation to answer some useful research questions. The static images are merely tantalising (and the Guardian’s coverage is superficial) however and I clicked through to see if there was more meat in the underlying research. The Urban Geographies of Tweets on Mark Graham’s blog is more informative and more importantly points to some shorter published pieces. Virtual Geographies and Urban Environments: Big Data and the ephemeral, augmented city explores the new digital layers of the urban environment to establish what and how they are constructed, and how they challenge existing power structures defined by the physical built urban environment. Tasty. The second referenced piece – Augmented Realities and Uneven Geographies: Exploring the Geo-linguistic Contours of the Web – takes the broader strokes further with a exploration of how these digital representations of the city are constructed and more importantly how they are differentially conceived based on language, access to technologies and cultural mediation of technological mediation. I commend this discussion for your consideration. What is life like in the increasingly digitally mediated city?

8 thoughts on “The Uneven Geography of the Web”

  1. I suppose Dublin is becoming an increasingly digitally mediated city. If it’s supposed to give rise to new urbanism – where we all trundle about our arrondissements -well that’s good. So long as we’re all taking the minimum amount of footsteps per diem >= 100000. Otherwise that’d be bad! A rather simple view point. Need more time to understand the design of such digitally mediated locales.

    1. Thanks Kevin, very interesting as it is relevant to Irish people – if you look at the “Vacant Ireland” map, it is no surprise that as you go West…the country in general is less populated which also explains why so many people work/commute to Dublin …will CP2 idea of asking people to work anywhere within 35km range of existing workplace change this? I doubt it but who knows? Decentralization was on the horizon for years and this fell flat on it’s face also..

    2. Wow there are a great deal of UK people in the west. Click on the polish population and they are only dots by comparison but better spaced out. Wonder why

  2. Yeah good man Kevin its a very interesting site alright. Yeah decentralization Stephen what a waste of tax payers money, many buildings purchased in ministers constituencies at over inflated prices to bring departments such Fas to them. Now buildings left empty and the hard pressed payer left out of pocket.

  3. Good find Kevin some interesting statistics. I think the national broadband scheme has improved connectivity in rural areas especially with the increasing popularity of smart phones and improvements in mobile networks. Also noticed recently the role out of free wifi on certain streets in Dublin by Dublin City Council.

  4. I found the article very thought provoking. Firstly, it demonstrates the usefulness of geo-location technology. Secondly, the combination of the words; Africa and uneven conjurors up thoughts of a digital divide. In the earlier days of advancement, the internet was portrayed by many as having the capability to balance levels of access to information, and more. However, at the same time others were pointing out that in order to benefit you must have access to a computer, be PC literate, have an internet connection, and have a fluency in the language presented. It was further suggested that the advancement in technology could push the digital divide wider apart. There is evidence that progress is being made in third world countries through technology, but a map like this brings us back to the issues of in-balance.

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