Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hello, here is a draft of newish book chapter that I've been working on for a while. It is related, in part, to the ongoing code/space research activity, with Rob Kitchin.

Towards touch-free spaces: sensors, software and the automatic production of shared public toilets

Abstract: New software-enabled technologies are changing the social and material production of everyday landscapes, and re-figuring the embodied relationships between people and the environment through touch. Touching with hands is integral to so much technologic activity and control - the pressing of buttons, pulling of handles, flicking switches, twisting selector dials, and so on. And yet touch is an overlooked spatial sense and practice in human geography. It perhaps then somewhat ironic that in this paper we are concerned with the reverse situation, as we interrogate the nature of mundane technologies that are designed to work without direct human touch. As such, we consider how tools and appliances are being designed and engineered to interact and respond appropriately to people by remotely sensing the presence of human bodies, and offering modes of control that are proximate rather than using physical touch. We focus on electronic/digital technologies, being applied in everyday contexts, that use sensors and software to automatically produce spaces that can react to people (or at a minimum bodily shaped objects) in meaningful ways without direct contact. To begin to explain the nature of this automatic production of touch-free spatiality we concentrate our analysis on shared public toilets, vital but somewhat disregarded spaces of modern life.

Keywords: toilets, automation, software, sensors, code/space

I've made this draft is available as a working paper on the Social Science Research Network, SSRN-id1966248. Another version of the chapter is due to come out in a new book I've been co-editing, Touching Space, Placing Touch (to be published by Ashgate at some point in 2012).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Just noticed that two of my articles have recently passed the 100 citation 'milestone' according to Google Scholar. It is also pleasing that my co-authored book, Mapping Cyberspace, from 2000, is still picking up cites and now has surpassed the 500 mark.

Obviously you have to take Google Scholar's citation counts with a serious pinch of salt as they are often significantly inflated with double-counting, self-citations and random cites from draft documents and working papers. The much stricter (and more narrowly measured) citations from the ISI Web of Science database gives "Flying through code/space" a less impressive 59 citations (as 'mapped' below) and only a measly 140 odd cites for Mapping Cyberspace.