A new form of geography

One of the risks of conventional politics is seeing the world through ideas which are subsidiary to a certain, old way of understanding the geography and the geometry of concepts. Español, Português

Antoni Gutiérrez-Rubí
17 April 2018

Image: Wikipedia. John Snow’s original map showing the clustering of cholera cases during the London Epidemic of 1854, drawn and lithographed by Charles Cheffins.

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This piece is an excerpt from an original article published as part of the eBook El ecosistema de la Democracia Abierta series, which can be found here.

Despite the fact that maps are a useful resource in terms of power and decision making, we are currently living through a period of transformations, redefining what we have always referred to as territory.

Although this concept is usually associated with the idea of a delimited space, defined by administrative borders, today it goes beyond geographic traditions.

However, these historical features of maps become limits to innovation, seeing as they create mental and imaginary barriers. Borders that, although perhaps no longer in existence, our senses insist on perceiving, due to our previous programming that tells us we must pay attention to what is written on that paper. 

Nevertheless, thanks to the arrival of Big Data and the prospect of data analysis, endless possibilities that allow for the widening of our capacity to read into the interests of citizens, by means of interpretation and evaluation of their actions, have been unearthed.

As such we see clearly how digital transformations lead us towards changing view-points, allowing us to consider new ways of governing, redefining spaces, administrative limits, the way in which we interact, communication strategies and citizen participation.

Now is the time to use the tools technology provides us with in order to develop our cities, comprehending new urban realities and their complexity, adapting the instruments we have at our disposal to new forms of participation and societal interaction.

In conclusion, it is of vital importance that we forget the mental boundaries that maps have imposed in order to understand new geographies and geometries that cities demand, focusing on new forms of interaction that data allows us to visualise and understand.

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