Thursday, August 30, 2012

Quoted in the papers

I was interviewed about the politics behind mapping technologies by Guardian journalist Oliver Burkeman a few weeks ago. His article, How Google and Apple's digital mapping is mapping us appeared in the paper yesterday. The article made the front cover of the G2 section and generated a good number of online comments. I got a small quote:

"The map is mapping us," says Martin Dodge, a senior lecturer in human geography at Manchester University. "I'm not paranoid, but I am quite suspicious and cynical about products that appear to be innocent and neutral, but that are actually vacuuming up all kinds of behavioural and attitudinal data."

The fact that I claimed not to be paranoid has raised a couple of comments from my colleagues.

Also, my recent book gets a nice name check in an interesting comment piece about the growing power of software algorithms in academia. The article is entitled Leave the thinking to us, in the Times Higher Education. It is by sociologist David Beer and he notes:

"In Rob Kitchin and Martin Dodge's book Code/Space: Software and Everyday Life (2011), the authors demonstrate the importance of software for the functioning of the social world everywhere from the home to air travel. It would be remiss to think that higher education somehow sits outside these broader social developments. Kitchin and Dodge point out that even mundane technologies such as Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop come "loaded" with "algorithmic normalities" that "subtly ... direct users to certain solutions". Without thinking too hard, we can immediately see that PowerPoint's algorithmic normalities are likely to be providing us with subtle directions in how to lecture."

Friday, August 10, 2012

Paper analysing the content of the City of Manchester Plan, published in 1945

I've just received the pageproofs for a paper, coauthored with Chris Perkins. Its due to be published in the autunm hopefully.

Mapping the Imagined Future: The Roles of Visual Representation in the 1945 City of Manchester Plan
by Chris Perkins and Martin Dodge

Visual representations have often played a crucial role in imagining future urban forms. In the aftermath of the Second World War, a noteworthy new genre of urban plan was published in Britain, most deploying seductively optimistic illustrations of ways forward not only for the reconstruction of bomb-damaged towns and cities but also for places left largely undamaged. This paper assesses the contribution of visual elements in this process with a detailed case study of the maps, statistical charts, architectural drawings and photographs enrolled into the 1945 City of Manchester Plan. The cultural production of these visual representations is evaluated. Our analysis interprets the form, symbology and active work of different imagery in the process of reimagining Manchester, but also assesses the role of these images as markers of a particular moment in the cultural economy of the city. This analysis is carried out in relation to the ethos of the Plan as a whole.

Keywords: City of Manchester Plan; planning; visual practices; mapping; Manchester; architectural drawings; photographs; futurity

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Our chapter on Manchester as a 'hydraulic city' read through original maps and plans of water supplies and sewage systems has been published in a new edited book Mapping Cultures: Place, Practice, Performance (Palgrave). The book is a useful collection of pieces relating to spatial representation and aspects of urbanity, expertly pulled together by Les Roberts.

You can read an uncorrected pageproof version of the chapter, 'Maps, Memories and Manchester: The Cartographic Imagination of the Hidden Networks of the Hydraulic City'. Below is an example of the kinds of historical mapping we analyse, in this case a simple segmented chart of the Thirlmere aqueduct, a triumph of Victorian engineering that brings fresh water from the Lake District  down to Manchester.

  (Source: The Engineer, 19th October 1894, page 340. 
A scanned copy of this issue is available from Grace's Guide.)