In the digital era, maps are everywhere -from large-scale displays within galleries and museums, to mobile smartphone screens. Not only do maps allow us to navigate the places where we live, they also have great potential as educational tools, especially when learners engage in their creation. Next Monday I will be at SXSWedu moderating a conversation about maps, learning, and participation. Together with Debora Lui, Claudia Silva, and Giuliana Cucinelli, we will discuss the use of digital maps in educational and cultural settings and talk about how they can foster the acquisition of multi-literacies and 21st century skills, the implementation of innovative pedagogies, and support civic engagement and community building. What kind of learning processes can be supported by the creation of digital and participatory maps? How can digital maps provide opportunities to tell stories about our communities, cities, and neighborhoods? How does digital participatory mapping allow learners to connect with their communities and cities thus transforming them into laboratories for experimentation, survey, and exploration?
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Over the last three decades, the rapid development and adoption of digital technology infrastructures, tools, and practices, has given rise to a new communication environment that is more interactive, networked, and participatory. This environment has become a central force driving political, cultural, educational, and economic transformations in contemporary societies, especially the post-industrial and advanced capitalist ones such as the USA. Concepts such as “network society” (Castells 2001), “convergence culture” (Jenkins 2006), “networked information economy” (Benkler 2006), and “network culture” (Terranova 2004; Varnelis, 2008), describe a more interconnected, decentralized and information-rich world where people has more opportunities to participate in various societal realms. However, despite the fact that the new communication environment is more open and participatory, and that young people is highly engaged with new media tools and networks, its emergence in the historical context of a stratified society has had repercussions for the reproduction of social inequality. Beyond the metaphor of an existing “digital divide” between “have” and “have-nots,” rich and poor, several scholars have been pointing out since the 2000s that inequalities are way more complex than simple access to a computer and an Internet connection. (Warschauer 2002; DiMaggio et al. 2004; Selwyn 2004; van Dijk 2005; Chen and Wellman 2005; Hargittai 2008; Stern et al. 2009; Schradie 2011; Watkins 2012) There are gradients not only in the quality of access to technology, but also in the sociocultural practices and skills that people develop, and the information they consume and produce. (Hargitai 2011; Schradie 2011; Jenkins et al. 2006; Van Dijk 2005; Watkins 2012) As van Dijk has explained, there are in fact successive kinds of access (motivational, material, skills, and usage) that vary according to the positions and resources that people have. (van Dijk, 2005) Continue reading Evolving Digital Inequalities: Understanding the Changing Countours of Divides and Gaps
Life is a journey. No doubt. In both metaphorical and literal sense we cross time and space as we experience our lives. We move. Always move. For some people, such as the immigrants, the journey is quite literal and involves deep human, natural, cultural and social trasnformations. For others, like the tourists, the journey is more like an attraction, an entertainment, a service offered by a modern industry. Many times, the journey of an immigrant converges with the one of a tourist, and such kind of encounter, when we look at it closely, has the potential of revealing powerful paradoxes. That is the case of Antonio, an Embera from the Darien, who migrated with his community to the Chagres River, near the Panama Canal, and became engaged in tourism practices. In the video bellow, the first film from a transmedia documentary project called I Am Tourism/Yo Soy Turismo, you can learn more about Antonio’s story.
I am Tourism / Yo Soy Turismo from VvvA on Vimeo.
It is not just about coffee, it is more about the space, and in particular, about the “free” and “open” public/private space. The importance of coffeehouses as social spaces has been well documented in studies across multiple disciplines. Jurgen Habermas (1962) talked about the existence of coffeehouses as one of the crucial spaces for rational deliberation, a privately owned but at the same time a space open to the public, a precondition to the modern public sphere. Ray Oldenburg (1989) categorized coffee-shops as “third spaces” different from home and work, places that host the ordinary, voluntary and informal gatherings of city dwellers. Today, with the emergence of a communication networked environment, coffeehouses continue to embrace their ambiguous spatial nature providing a private space open to the public for gathering. They offer access to not only coffee, chairs, tables, and print media, but also to the Internet. Furthermore, most of them offer also space for parking bikes and cars. Looking at the image above (and the announcement of PARKING above FREE Wi-Fi), I wonder if they are also offering space for parking computers.
Continue reading Parking at Free Wi-Fi Spots : Coffeehouses in a Networked Communication Environment
Regardless of the massive adoption of digital cameras and other mobile devices capable of recording images and of the massification of amateur photography, the tradition of informal photo-booths in public spaces is still alive in Latin America. Proof of that is the diversity of informal street photography studios that one can encounter when visiting Chapultepec Park in Mexico City.
Continue reading Informal Photo-Booths in the Age of Digital Reproduction
Since the 19th century travelogues have been a popular media format. First as illustrated lectures accompanied with glass-lantern slides and moving images projections, and later as films and television shows, travelogues are media bound to place. Because their location orientation, they could be considered an early form of geo-locative media. The practitioners of the travelogue form used to be travelers who documented their journeys in different media and created non-fiction stories about the places they visited. Burton Homes, for instance, a traveler, photographer, filmmaker and performer, coined the term “travelogue” in 1904 to describe the multimedia lectures in where he narrated stories about his travels around the world. Since that time, the practice of a speaker narrating a visit to a specific place while showing related imagery to an audience became the basic convention for the travelogue format. During the whole 20th century, not only the film and television industries invested in the production of travelogues, but also governmental institutions, academic researchers, and home video amateur enthusiasts, dedicated many efforts to creating them. In this entry, I would like to share a small sample of travelogue films about four Latin American cities (Bogota, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, and La Paz) produced between 1940 and 1960s.
Continue reading Latin American Cities and Film Travelogues From the 20th Century