Geographies of Technology


Read our paper by Batty, Lin and Chen on Virtual Realities, Analogies and Technologies in Geography, where we continue to parade the idea of virtual geographic environments – VGE

From the publisher’s blurb: This Handbook offers an insightful and comprehensive overview from a geographic perspective of the numerous and varied technologies that are shaping the contemporary world. It shows how geography and technology are intimately linked by examining the origins, growth, and impacts of 27 different technologies and highlighting how they influence the structure and spatiality of society. Following summaries of important conceptual issues such as diffusion, gender and science studies, the book explores various technologies, which are grouped into six main categories:

  • Computational: code, location-based services and virtual reality
  • Communications: fiber optics, satellites, the internet, radio, cell phones and television
  • Transportation: automobiles, aviation, drones, railroads, and shipping and ports
  • Energy: biofuels, dams, fracking, geothermal energy, pipelines, solar energy and LEED buildings
  • Manufacturing: robotics, just-in-time systems and nanotechnology
  • Life sciences: new technologies of health care, biotechnology and biometrics.

Significantly, the book includes in-depth explorations of new technologies that have so far received very little attention from geographers. This much-needed Handbook offers a comprehensive and state-of-the-art summary of the geographies of major technologies and how they affect society, economies, geographies and everyday life. It will appeal to academics and advanced students interested in geography, planning and the social sciences in general.

Understanding Spatial Media


A new book from the Kitchin stable. I have a short chapter in it on smart cities and you can get it here. Over the past decade, a new set of interactive, open, participatory and networked spatial media have become widespread.  These include mapping platforms, virtual globes, user-generated spatial databases, geodesign and architectural and planning tools, urban dashboards and citizen reporting geo-systems, augmented reality media, and locative media.  Collectively these produce and mediate spatial big data and are re-shaping spatial knowledge, spatial behaviour, and spatial politics.

My chapter on Producing Smart Cities that you can download here within the book edited by Kitchin, Lauriault and Wilson Understanding Spatial Media brings together a series of ideas from around the globe to examine these new spatial media, their attendant technologies, spatial data, and their social, economic and political effects. The chapters are divided into the following sections: Spatial media technologies. Spatial data and spatial media, and the consequences of spatial media.

Non-Equilibrium Social Science and Policy


This great book edited by Jeffrey Johnson, Paul Ormerod, Bridget Rosewell, Andrzej Nowak, and Yi-Cheng Zhang brings together many contributions from an EU project which lead to several workshops and conferences about a new form of social science – out of equilibrium, far from equilibrium, in disequilibrium as the world always is. The book is open access and you can download it here.

Here is an explanation of what is contained within. Between 2011 and 2014 the European Non-Equilibrium Social Science Project (NESS) investigated the place of equilibrium in the social sciences and policy. Orthodox economics is based on an equilibrium view of how the economy functions and does not offer a complete description of how the world operates. However, mainstream economics is not an empty box. Its fundamental insight, that people respond to incentives, may be the only universal law of behaviour in the social sciences. Only economics has used equilibrium as a primary driver of system behaviour, but economics has become much more empirical at the microlevel over the past two decades. This is due to two factors: advances in statistical theory enabling better estimates of policy consequences at the microlevel, and the rise of behavioural economics which looks at how people, firms and governments really do behave in practice. In this context, this chapter briefly reviews the contributions of this book across the social sciences and ends with a discussion of the research themes that act as a roadmap for further research. These include: realistic models of agent behaviour; multilevel systems; policy informatics; narratives and decision making under uncertainty; and validation of agent-based complex systems models.

Here is my own chapter for your interest which is entitled Cities in Disequilibrium