Then and Now

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In November 1986 I visited SunYatSen University and gave a public lecture about Urban Modelling. China was a very different world then, no cars, no computers, no email, barely functioning electricity. And of course it was before laptops, networks, hand-held devices and so on. The personal computer had only just been invented. The campus was more or less in the countryside. Despite China opening up in 1979, this was still the old China.

Fast forward 31 years to 2017. The University is now a power house, in the top 10 in China and advancing in the QS university rankings worldwide very rapidly. Since 1986, I have been there a number of times but I never gave any more public lectures until last Tuesday and Wednesday when I more or less repeated what I had talked about 31 years ago. Well not quite, of course; it was the same domain of interest and in the same lineage – but I talked about web-based, large-scale urban models, ideas about big data, smart cities and so on. A world away from those distant years but closely linked intellectually.

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There are no faculty left still working in the School of Geography and Planning from those years but this is not unusual because there is no one left in any of the universities I have worked in before 1990. And it is a little sad that of those who were students then and now senior faculty there, none could remember attending my lecture and I am sure they did not know of it but there were about 130 in the room at the time. I found the building I had lectured in largely because of the poster above which was hand painted for my 1986 visit. Those of you who are Chinese will be able to read this.

Here are the pdfs of the presentations I gave:

Click on these and enjoy.

Geographies of Technology

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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.