Increasingly, the Web – which once held the promise of unimpeded access to the wide world – is beginning to segment our view of the world through social and spatial filtering, with implications for various societal action fields.
The draft paper
The workshop was based on a quite extensive Draft Paper prepared for the Symposium by Tristan Thielmann, Lonneke van der Velden, Florian Fischer and Robert Vogler. What they’ve recognized are a re-personalization and a re-territorialization of the internet. In their view, both developments are making the internet less and less virtual, and more exploitable for commercial interests. The paper is still open for debate and will be revised in different forms in the months to come.
The Workshop set out what is meant by the catchphrase ‘Googlization’. Searching and finding information on the Web, as to the authors, now appears to be determining the production and dissemination of knowledge within our society to an ever-increasing extent. The spreading GeoWeb in general and the user-driven production of geo-referenced information in particular have pluralized the representation of spatial conceptions in global networks of communication and promote the Googlization of space concurrently. Increasingly, the Web – which once held the promise of unimpeded access to the wide world – is beginning to segment our view of the world through social and spatial filtering, with implications for various societal action fields.
The overarching aim of the workshop was to understand how space becomes a new paradigm for search, communication and interaction, but also how space serves the representation and delivery of content and therefore results in browsing behaviors being substantially influenced by spatial structures.
The Research perspectives on the interdependencies between media and space, between media spaces and spatial media were extended by the responses of Georg Glasze who focused especially on challenges for future research, and Richard Rogers who gave an historical overview of the evolving concepts of space and internet.
Discussion and remarks
The discussion during and afterwards yielded interesting remarks, particularly addressing three research directions:
Terms and methodologies
In reference to concepts of space, the traditional – if not the old – way of talking about mapping and space was criticized. There’s a lack of differentiation, and new conceptions are needed. In a way, the same appears to methodologies for research. When discussing approaches on Internet and space, research needs to take applied and new methods in consideration.
Social structures behind representations of space
One of the overarching questions was ‘Who is the crowd and how do they contribute to spatial representations?’ Research needs to go beyond the user and should ask for social structures, for emerging hierarchies and underlying conventions.
Privacy and intransparency
Research should figure on the concerns related to data harvesting and processing not only by companies, but also by governments and their use of data. It should be asked: What is happening with the data? And, how it is harvested? In particular questions arouse like, how users and their spaces are constructed through profiling and targeting methods.