May 27, 2011

Floating Sheep Publications

A special issue of the Journal of Urban Technology on information technologies and urban networks has just been published. It has a great series of articles from a range of researchers. Including the following two from the Floatingsheep collective.

Graham, M. and M. Zook. 2011. Visualizing the Global Cyberscape: Mapping User Generated Placemarks. Journal of Urban Technology 18(1): 115-132.
This article focuses on the representation of physical places on the Internet or what we term cyberscape. While there is a wide range of online place-related information available, this project uses the metric of the number of user-generated Google Maps placemarks containing specific keywords in locations worldwide. After setting out the methods behind this research, this article provides a cartographic analysis of these cyberscapes and examines how they inform us about the material world. Visibility and invisibility in material space are increasingly being defined by prominence, ranking, and presence on the Internet, and Google has positioned itself as a highly authoritative source of online spatial information. As such, any distinct spatial patterns within uploaded information have the potential to become real and reinforced as Google is relied upon as a mirror of the offline world.

Zook, M., Devriendt, L. and M. Dodge. (2011). Cyberspatial Proximity Metrics: Reconceptualizing Distance in the Global Urban System. Journal of Urban Technology 18(1): 93-114.
In this paper we analyze how distances between a sample of a hundred major world cities varies when measured in cyberspace. The project develops a novel spatial statistical model based upon the number of user-generated placemarks indexed by Google Maps. We demonstrate how this metric captures the “invisible” patterns of intercity information flows and helps comprehend the contours of the complex digital network that exists between large urban centers across the world. Using a specially designed software program to interrogate Google Maps, a series of keyword searches (“tourism,” “business,” “hotel”) as well as each of the city names were conducted in each of the sample places. Comparing this digital measure with the material movement of people and other relevant descriptive variables, such as national economic development and language differences, we were able to provide a cogent model that plausibly explains why certain city pairs (especially those that are physically distant) exhibit strong informational linkages. While the strength of these digital connections undoubtedly demonstrates the continued importance of physical proximity and established transport infrastructures in the twenty-first century, one can also observe significant evidence for [new?] digital “wormholes” which indicates that processes of globalization driven by online interaction also operates by its own rules.

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