Thinking the Geoweb: Political economies, `neo'geographies, and spatial media
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Critical GIS and GIScience face tremendous methodological and conceptual challenges at present as they grapple with the emergence and proliferation of a diverse range of new, Web-based geographical information technologies that cannot be defined or engaged in terms of conventional GIS. Together, these new hardware/software objects, the new content forms that spatial data are assuming, and practices around these technologies and information artifacts are referred to by geographers as `the geoweb.' The emergence of the geoweb is fundamentally transforming the ways in which society, space, and technology intersect and are co-articulated. Against this backdrop, this research takes the material and digital presences of geoweb phenomena as primary evidence of a transformative moment in the production, distribution, commercialization, circulation, and public awareness of geographic information technologies. On the basis of a content and discourse analysis of textual material thematically about the geoweb that I archived and coded over a period of three years (June 2009 - June 2012), I advance propositions that address the intellectual challenge of thinking - apprehending, conceptualizing, and engaging - the geoweb as a multi-faceted socio-spatio-technical phenomenon. These propositions constitute three threads of an empirically-grounded framework for theorizing the societal transformations wrought through the geoweb on multiple, intersecting levels: i) the political economic relations from which these transformations emerge; ii) the discursive practices that have been used to ensure the sustained consumption and proliferation of geoweb technologies; and iii) the epistemological frames that help us as scholars fully interrogate the diverse material practices/objects that co-constitute the geoweb and the forms of communication and social, spatial, and technological relations it is used to foster.
- Geography