This quarter’s issue of the Parsons Journal for Information Mapping (PJIM) brings another wide variety of innovative, creative, and unique projects completed by our worldwide group of contributors. We showcase two interactive projects along with two well-researched and provoking essays.
While this marks our second issue our Editorial Board has seen a vast majority of interest in the concept of globalization and its affect on social interactions among the world’s inhabitants. The projects and essays in this issue bring forth various examples of global, local, geospatial mapping, and social connectivity. We thank all of our contributors for their excellent work and proudly present their successes to our subscribers.
Brian Willison, Publisher
Parsons Journal for Information Mapping
by Laila Shereen Sakr, MFA
by Jean-Sébastien Guy, PhD
by Jeremy Hight, MFA
by Claudia Bernett, MFA & Maria Ioveva, MFA
Arabic, archive, diaspora, Gaza, Iraq, Lebanon, mashup, Middle East, R-Shief, transnational
The R-Shief Initiative will build a working environment among scholars, librarians, policymakers, artists, and technical experts by producing a multilingual website that integrates existing open-source applications in order to archive 21st century knowledge production on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and its Diaspora. Its initial archiving effort will specifically focus on Gaza, Iraq, and Lebanon. These conflict and post-conflict sites are generating a new Diaspora and engaging transnational researchers who contribute a situated knowledge. This knowledge offers a significant scope of analysis, particularly in a context where "Arab" is poorly understood. In response to the dominance of English-language media, R-Shief’s accessibility to speakers of various languages (initially Arabic and English, and later Turkish, Hebrew and Farsi) initiates transformational change in information sharing and becomes meaningful to various communities and disciplines, ultimately affecting the terms on which cultures interact. R-Shief’s contribution to the humanities includes the creation of a forum for information sharing, using a participatory design and a sustainable process of integrating new software mixes.
Laila Shereen Sakr is an Egyptian-American poet, graphic designer, VJ, community organizer, and digital artist. Her current project, R-Shief, is a multilingual website that integrates open-source software in order to archive 21st century knowledge production on the Middle East and its Diaspora. She is also experimenting with a conceptual art project, the VJ Um Amel Video Blog. See www.lailashereen.com.
Distinction global/local, Globalization, image of world order, Niklas Luhmann, Roland Robertson, self-description
This article develops a new sociological understanding of the difference between global and local relating to the phenomena of globalization. Globalization itself is redefined as one of society’s self-description insofar as, following Niklas Luhmann’s theory, society is conceived as a cognitive system that can only handle information (about the world, about itself) only through its own specific operation (communication), so that globalization affects society solely when the later communicates about the former. This effectively happens, it is argued, because communications about globalization convey an account of society’s current state, i.e. a description of society within society, hence fulfilling the system’s need for self-knowledge. The global value then coincides with the content of the particular self-description that globalization is, whereas the local value corresponds to the content of all other self-descriptions as seen from the previous perspective. Global and local are not spatial structures (levels, scales, places, distances, etc.), but different representations of space competing against each other in a process to determine within society the reality that society is. In the second part of the article, the ideas of Roland Robertson about globalization are reinterpreted so as to provide support to this new understanding of the difference global/local. Robertson distinguished four images of world-order which can be taken as equivalent to four self-descriptions of society. Globalization is precisely one of them. Contrasts between images of world-order as imagined by Robertson himself can thus illuminate what the global and the local have in common and how they diverge from each other.
Jean-Sébastien Guy teaches sociological theory in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Dalhousie University. He has a special interest in Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory. He has published a book (in French) offering a new theoretical interpretation of globalization entitled L’idée de la mondialisation (Montréal: Liber, 2007).
Augmentation, locative, map, mapping, measure, modulate, semiotics, social network, space
The map can be active, malleable, open source fed, and even, in a sense, intelligent and able to adapt. The possibility also exists for this map to have a function that based on key words will search databases on-line to find maps, animations, histories and stories etc to place within it for your study and engagement. The map is thus a platform and yet is active. Community is possible as people can communicate graphically in works placed on the map and in building mode in the tool. All the tropes of locative media are to be in a mapping system of channels of augmentation and a spatial net. The software by design will allow development on the map and communication like programs such as second life but in mapping itself.
Jeremy Hight has published over twenty essays in various fields of technology, locative media, mapping and critical theory. He created locative narrative. He is co-editing a special issue of Leonardo on immersive visualization. He is co-curating a series of exhibitions of pioneers in art and technology beginning with Vuk Cosic. He recently presented a key note speech on reconsidering maps and spaces at In Transition.
Bronx, community, hip hop, history, New York, mapping, mobile, music, participatory, social, tag
Bronx Rhymes commemorates the early days of hip-hop and renews its cultural significance by inviting a new generation of lyricists to reinvigorate its rich history. An ongoing series of Bronx Rhymes posters are installed at iconic hip-hop landmarks throughout the South Bronx. Each poster describes the historical significance of that location in the form of a rhyme, and invites passersby to text their own rhymes in response. Submissions appear on the BronxRhymes.org website along with the original rhyme, generating a continually evolving community composition.
We designed Bronx Rhymes as a project that merged the physical, digital, and mobile worlds by taking into account the social dynamics of our intended audience—the younger residents of the South Bronx and their online counterparts. Demolition and gentrification have left few traces of hip-hop’s early history in a borough very much in need of local heroes. We wanted to uncover and expose these lost or hidden facts by describing them in a form that is integral to hip-hop, the rhyme. In order to fully engage young people, we structured our design around texting, the most pervasive medium of communication among this group. We invite those who see the posters, or visit the website to respond by writing their own rhymes, thus contributing to a constantly expanding archive of shared insights and emotions. We hope the resulting collection will prove to be a testament to hip-hop’s ability to engage and provoke, as well as a reflection of digital technology evolving beyond the boundaries of a single medium into a participatory and personalized act of remixing.
Claudia Bernett is an artist and designer living and working in New York City. Since receiving her MFA from Parsons School of Design in 2000, she has been creating work that operates at the intersection of the digital and physical realms, and explores cognitive responses to human-computer interaction. She also works as an interaction designer in the Mobile and Emerging Platforms group at R/GA where she leads the user interface development on a wide variety of digital tools, toys, and experiences.
Maria Ioveva is an interaction designer and motion graphics artist. Her interest in urban narratives led her to create “after-images” of the city—a series of animated dreamscapes in which past, present and fantasy intertwine. In previous pieces, she has re-imagined classic New York silhouettes such as the Brooklyn water towers and the abandoned elevated High Line rail line. She received an MFA from Parsons School of Design in 2005, and currently works as a Senior Interaction Designer at R/GA for the Nike+ account.