Flutterby™! : Maps, personalization and subversion

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Maps, personalization and subversion

2013-05-28 18:08:47.740374+00 by Dan Lyke 8 comments

Slate: My Map or Yours? Google’;s plan to personalize maps could end public space as we know it.

This might seem liberating and empowering—;that, at any rate, is how Google wants us to see this new development. “;In the past,”; reads the company's announcement, “;a map was just a map, and you got the same one for New York City, whether you were searching for the Empire State Building or the coffee shop down the street. What if, instead, you had a map that’;s unique to you, always adapting to the task you want to perform right this minute?”;

And then, of course, goes into the usual pearl-clutching that we've become so used to from newspaper editors about how personalization is going to create separated spaces and isolated silos of interests and all of that, but...

I've been a bit thinking recently about the need for deliberate cultural transgression. After the weekend at the Stumptown Stomp two weekends ago, and this weekend at the straight square dancing Golden State Roundup, we were forwarded a "what to expect at the IAGSDC international convention" that we're going to in July. The fascinating lore of that led me to reading a bit of the history of the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs (in the form of the Ten Years IAGSDC Digital Edition), which goes into some of the struggles of gay square dancing in the '80s, trying to find CALLERLAB callers who'd take the social risk of calling for a gay club, trying to convince hotels that they weren't going to get cooties from the attendees, and so forth.

And we've had some talks with folks at our club, Redwood Rainbows, about the struggles of making gay square dancing attractive to straight people (fears that "...and spank the bottom!" as a response to the call "Fan The Top" might drive people off), about the conflicts between the gay clubs rejuvenating interest in resources like Wischemann Hall and the traditionalism from the people who built this resource hating that "the queers" are invading those spaces (Redwood Rainbows was apparently formed in 2007(!), as a sub-group of "Saucy Squares", and just in those six years has become the caretakers of the hall and the source of all of the new blood, and now accounts for nearly all the active members, but there's a lot of delicacy over the relationship between those clubs).

So keeping a culture fresh and relevant requires pioneers, deliberate transgressors, people who are willing to step outside the social frameworks and say "what else is there out there?"

I suspect that in the future of scanning all of your social media and personalizing your news and maps and advertising, we'll have to have carefully partitioned alternate identities through which we can discover the holes and gaps in the culture, and the ways which we can subvert the resources of the mainstream to create new and vibrant cultures to replace the ones which will, inevitably, ossify and die.

[ related topics: Interactive Drama Sexual Culture Nature and environment Invention and Design History Space & Astronomy Sociology Current Events Consumerism and advertising Journalism and Media California Culture Maps and Mapping New York ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2013-05-30 15:07:23.201801+00 by: ebradway

I'm going to have to read that closer and watch the source interview at TechCrunch when I have a little more time... but as a reminder, the Map is not the Territory (and that WikiPedia article also warrants a closer read and maybe some expansion).

#Comment Re: made: 2013-05-30 17:04:55.224041+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, I got to thinking a bit more about this and realized that what makes a map useful is it that it is a domain-specific guide. Maps are tailored to applications, and complaining about customization is like complaining that a map of road networks doesn't have geological information.

But, similarly, if you're seeking a particular geology, trying to figure out where the uranium is from the road network might be a challenge.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-05-30 22:23:36.604783+00 by: ebradway

And there is a thrill for many in finding things that are "off the map". It's why I read A few of the reviews on Yelp rather than just go by the stars... Which is an interesting double entedre - navigating by the stars!

#Comment Re: made: 2013-06-04 11:57:16.829302+00 by: DaveP

What's interesting to me is that Garmin, for all of their devices in the field, has never tried to capture the additional raw data so they could truly OWN the navigation business. They're going to lose it to Google (if they haven't already) because they didn't see that there are things beyond just the map that are needed by people for navigation.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-06-04 17:14:44.390754+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, ever since I got my first TomTom, I was amazed that they weren't letting me input corrections for street address and road accessibility into the device, and then synching that later.

Or just logging the route I actually took vs the route they suggested, and using that information (presumably from multiple users) for timing data.

Incorporating both of those back into their database would have given me an incentive to plug the device in to my computer more often, and to actually pay subscriptions for map upgrades.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-06-04 23:02:49.619734+00 by: meuon

Our Tom Tom collects and reports such data, and has even asked for answers to survey questions... It's an older 720 with the latest OS and map load, syncs to my phone Samsung Note II over Bluetooth.

And the Tom Tom works in the Boonies with no/slow cell reception.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-06-04 23:12:15.008638+00 by: Dan Lyke

Ah, maybe it's time to update my TomTom then... One of mine has died, the other is a $70 special purchased several years ago when we were in someone else's car on the east coast.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-06-05 13:09:02.280158+00 by: DaveP

I'd heard the newer TomTom's did that. I've got a Garmin Montana as my primary GPS (it's water- proof so I can use it on the motorcycle without worrying about getting rained on), and it almost never connects to my computer except once in a while before or after a trip. Which reminds me, I need to pull the most recent trip out of its brain before it scrolls off. And probably apply N updates because I update so infrequently it's a serious ordeal every time I do connect it.