Friday, August 31, 2007

I co-organised a successful double session at this years RGS-IBG conference on 'touch'. Details below and paper abstracts are here.


Touching Places / Placing Touch: Space, Culture and Tactility

CONVENORS: Sara MacKian (University of Manchester), Martin Dodge (University of Manchester), Chris Perkins (University of Manchester), Mark Paterson (University of Exeter)

CHAIR: Mark Paterson (University of Exeter)

1 Placing touch on the beach: The tactilities of sunbathing and sandcastles; Pau Obrador-Pons (University of Sunderland)

2 To eat or not to eat: the role of touch in choosing food at a farmers’ market; Keith Spiller (Durham University)

3 Encountering touch: the ‘mixed bodies’ of Michel Serres ; Jennifer Lea (University of Glasgow)

4 In close embrace? Negotiating hold and space between two dancers; Sarah Cant (Plymouth University)

5 Bodies-Touching-Bodies: Exploring fleshy geographies in the work of Jenny Saville; Rachel Colls (Durham University)


CHAIR: Martin Dodge (University of Manchester)

1 The Ecology of Technics: Touch and the practice of being human.; James Ash (University of Bristol)

2 Brain imaging techniques and some possible geographies of touch; Hannah Macpherson (University of Newcastle)

3 CANCELLED: To understand a tactile pratice in Geography : Fieldworking and act of drawing in the prospect of Transitionality; Anne Volvey (University of Artois, France)

4 Touch and the micro spaces of hurt and healing: exploring stories of post cancer treatment though tactile methodologies; Amanda Bingley (Lancaster University)

5 CANCELLED: Touch in the skin’s culture of the modern medicine: the birth of biosubjective care; Bernard Andrieu (University of Nancy, France), Alexandre Klein (University of Nancy, France)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Monday, August 27, 2007

We did a lovely evening walk yesterday around the Swineshaw reservoirs. The hills are now awash with flowering heather.

Hi, after months of saying I will do some mapping for OpenStreetMap, I have finally made a start on the roads and footpaths of Glossop. I am still getting the hang of editing gps tracks and tagging map features properly. There is lots more to be done to get the mythical 'complete map'....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Call for papers – 2008 Association of American Geographers Annual Conference.
15-19 April 2008, Boston, USA.

Situating Sat Nav: Questioning the TomTom Effect

Session organisers:
Chris Perkins and Martin Dodge
Geography, School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester


Comprehensive in-car satellite navigation (Sat Nav) systems have rapidly become affordable and ‘must-have’ mass-market accessories, advertised on television and the focus of ‘scare’ stories in the tabloid press. With their driver’s-eye position, dynamic maps and an authoritative voice telling you where and when to turn, these archetypal geographical gizmos depend on the ‘magic’ locational power of a cluster of unseen satellites and the global reach of corporations marketing the latest consumer fad. Sat Nav offers technologically sophisticated spatial data models of the world, but the technology quickly sinks into taken-for-granted everyday driving practices, such that its social and political significance is hard to assess. The gadgets themselves take space on the dashboard and windscreens, but also make new senses of space for the driver, well beyond the car. What exactly is the nature of this TomTom effect?

We invite theoretically informed analyses questioning the social effects, cultural meanings and political economy of in-car satellite navigation.

Suggested themes:

# The politics of the socio-technical infrastructures and corporate practices underpinning collection and distribution of street maps and points-of-interest databases.

# Consideration of the risks that flow from people’s unwitting trust in the truth spoken by their Sat Nav. How dependent are drivers on them? Do they raise confidence, make driving safer and empower people with enhanced mobility? Or is the promise of never being lost an illusion, hiding navigational blind spots and a loss of geographical autonomy?

# The embodied practices of using Sat Nav and the ways in which these may be associated with social power, e.g. gendered, classed, aged, etc. Cultural meanings attached to Sat Nav. How people feel about granting decision-making control over to software? Cross cultural studies of Sat Nav.

# The efficacy of these systems. How to evaluate the accuracy of databases and fidelity of routing algorithms when the internal workings are deliberately ‘black-boxed’. Impacts on aggregate trip behaviour, local traffic flows through neighbourhoods, by-passing speed cameras and traffic calming measures, etc.

# Map and voice interface design and its possible deconstruction.

# Hacking Sat Nav: artistic, playful, or subversive uses of the technology.

# Navigational ethics, particularly relating to individual privacy and community rights. The surveillant potential of Sat Nav as ‘spy in the car’ for states and corporations.


Proposed papers in the form of a title and short abstract (250 words maximum) should be submitted to Martin Dodge ( by 30th September 2007. Further details on the paper requirements and registration for the AAG meeting are at

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Friday, August 03, 2007

Airport code/spaces

Hello, we have just finished a draft of a new book chapter on airports and code for the edited collection Aeromobilities: Theory and Research. The discussion looks at the contingent nature of software in 'ordering' flows of passengers at check-in, through security screening and at immigration. Comments welcome.