- Mapping and the Politics of Web Space
- Theory, Culture and Society
- Volume | Issue number
- 29 | 4/5
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
This article concerns efforts to see politics in web space. It is a network-topological approach in which the mappings of web space over the past decade have resulted in specific political geometries (roundtables, spheres, lists, etc.). In the web as hyperspace period, random site generators invited surfers to jumpcut through space. Mapping was performed for sites’ backlinks, showing distinctive ‘politics of association’. In the web as public sphere period, circle maps served as virtual roundtables. What if the web were to decide who should sit at the table? As ideas about the shapes the web accommodated shifted from public spheres to networks, the maps displayed ‘issue spaces’ - clusters of actors engaged in the same issue area, but now central or marginal. Finally, in what is dubbed as the revenge of geography, in the current locative period, maps show the distributed geography of engagement. Actors are temporarily ‘based’ and travelling physically from event to event, with tracing and other social software showing their routes. The article treats the shift in focus away from the ‘metaphysics’ of software-enabled spaces online (the ‘virtual’ topologies) to critiques of the new ‘trace routes’ (followed by mobile network actors) now that cyberspace is grounded.
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