Continuous connectivity, handheld computers, and mobile spatial knowledge

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Presented for the Local & Mobile 2012 conference on 18 March 2012; also presented a couple weeks earlier at the 2012 AAG meetings in NYC on 24 February 2012.Abstract:As geospatial information seemingly moves from users' personal computers to 'the cloud', the use of the phrase 'geographic technologies' has increasingly indicated things beyond desktop GIS. With these shifts in the distribution of geospatial data and practices, and the rise of the geoweb as a site of inquiry, new concepts are needed to better understand the conditions of geographic technologies. In this paper, I conceptualize one such element of interactivity: connection. Here, I argue that a logic of continuous connectivity underlies the development of digital spatial media and influences the contemporary production of spatial knowledge. For those lives lived that are presumed to be 'always-connected', interactions are figured by these connections to digital media. Many of these digital devices (especially mobile ones) become functional only through a series of connections to data and communication networks. For instance, mobile phones are in continuous communication regardless of direct use, 'listening' to cellular towers and analyzing proximity to deliver the best possible connection. From these system-level codes that maintain device connectivity to software-level codes that push and pull data to and from 'the cloud', being always-connected is part of a cultural milieu that has diverse implications not only for attention but also for the development of collective, spatial knowledge. Here, I situate the emergence of continuous connectivity in the marketing of handheld computers in the late-1990s, to historicize the importance of connection for understanding geospatial practices.

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  • 1. Continuous connectivity,handheld computers, andmobile spatial knowledgeMatthew W. Wilson, PhDAssistant Professor of GeographyNew Mappings CollaboratoryUniversity of 18 March 2012

2. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 2 3. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 3 Mother Jones Magazine by meli66a, Flickr 4. closed-worldcyborg Matthew W. Wilson, PhD4 Mother Jones Magazine by meli66a, Flickr 5. closed-worldcyborg Matthew W. Wilson, PhD5 Mother Jones Magazine by meli66a, Flickr 6. hardware < > software automated programming personal ubiquitousMatthew W. Wilson, PhD6 DSAC by psd, Flickr 7. hardware < > software automated programming personal ubiquitousMatthew W. Wilson, PhD7 DSAC by psd, Flickr 8. hardware < > software automated programming personal ubiquitousMatthew W. Wilson, PhD8 DSAC by psd, Flickr 9. The body is raised to the level ofhardware as the mechanics thatunderlie the practice of computing as that which makes mobile. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 9 10. What does the future hold for thecalculator? In the midst of more powerfulcomputers that are being built smaller andsmaller, the calculator may change Sometime in the future, computers mayevolve into calculators or calculators mayturn into computers.(Kim 1990: p. 62)Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 10 Commodore pocket calculator by farnea, Flickr 11. a problem-to-be-solved,a science-to-be-practiced,a nation-to-be-savedMatthew W. Wilson, PhD 11 12. ?a problem-to-be-solved,a science-to-be-practiced,a nation-to-be-saved portable, pen-based computing, for consumers.Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 12 13. continuous connectivityMatthew W. Wilson, PhD 13 14. continuous connectivitysynchronization protocols and ergonomic, hand-based user-interface techniques design personal digital assistants, pen-based computing, handheld devices,technologies connection cradles, Bluetooth and wireless synchronization practices of mobile computer usage, always-connected devices, practices cloud-based computingexperiences of brining computing with you, your computer desktop inexperiences your pocket, accessing the server farm from your hand visions of ubiquitous computing and wearable computing, of the fantasies fantasies of the smallest, most powerful, personal computerthe language of connectivity and transferability, of devices that arelanguages globally distinct The whole world in your hand, See the future in your hand, metaphors Where do you want to go today?Matthew W. Wilson, PhD14 15. connected mobility : the P D A Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 15 16. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 16 17. In the Valley of DreamsThe Zen of Palm Crossing the DesertThe Fight for IndependenceSea ChangeUncharted WatersMatthew W. Wilson, PhD 17 18. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 18 19. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 19 20. Palm ConnectMatthew W. Wilson, PhD 20 21. Palm ConnectMatthew W. Wilson, PhD 21 22. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 22 23. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 23 24. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 24 25. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 25 26. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 26 27. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 27 28. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 28 29. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 29 30. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 30 31. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 31 32. mobility < > connectivityMatthew W. Wilson, PhD 32 33. Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 33 34. histories of computingembodiment of technology imaginations of use Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 34 35. histories of computingembodiment of technology imaginations of usesituating the geoweb Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 35 36. We need a renewed commitment to theGIS & Society agenda, to interrogate theconditions of technological developmentas these impact a society hungry forcompelling geospatial data.Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 36 37. Thank you.@wilsonism Matthew W. Wilson, PhD 37