A whole host of exciting things happened!

I’ve been fairly lackadaisical about updating things here – which is a shame as some really cool stuff has been going on lately.

First, I suppose, I had a daughter. I like her. It’s weird being a parent in public, people keep coming up to me and saying “Oh my! What a lovely daughter! She’s beautiful!” This is weird in and of itself, but when I respond “Yeah, she’s ok/alright/various non-committal phrase,” they seem upset and confused. Yesterday, I was told I needed to be heaping praise upon her as a father. The thing is, I do. When she sits up or pulls herself up for the first time, when she rolls over or makes a new sound that she hasn’t made before – those are times when I’ll excitedly heap praise upon her. When she does something. I want my daughter to value herself for the things she accomplishes, not because random strangers find her particular combination of my wife and I’s genes visually appealing.

And that’s my first rant on fatherhood.

In work related news, I had a couple articles finally see print (see the c.v. section for details). I’m particularly happy with the “Living on Fumes” paper, you can grab a forthcoming copy here.

Also, the collaboration between Josh and I continues to bear fruit as Josh has been killing his side of things lately. Head over to Mapvocate.net to check out nTweetStreamer. We have something really cool in the works right now, it should be out in the coming weeks.

The short blog post I wrote for the Antipode Foundation a few years ago led to a couple of exciting press appearances. I was interviewed in the Atlantic, which is cool, but, even more exciting, I got to live out my child hood fantasy of being on NPR when I was interviewed on On The Media.

Finally, Joe Eckert, Andy Shears, and I are organizing an alt.conference to take place during the AAG. We’re very excited about it. There will be a series of lightning talks, a panel by senior researchers, and demos of new research tools available for the geoweb and big data. If anyone out there is interested (and you should be) the cfp is here.

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CFP for AAG 2013 – Whither Small Data?

Whither Small Data?: The limits of “big data” and the value of “small data” studies

Call for Papers

Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting

9-13 April 2012 Los Angeles, CA
Jim Thatcher, Department of Geography, Clark University

Ryan Burns, Department of Geography, University of Washington

Geographers studying technology have recently turned their gaze upon “big data” – massive datasets produced through the aggregation of crowdsourced, social, and other digitally available data. While the data itself may not be new, the ability to rapidly aggregate and analyze previously unheard of combinations of data has led to an increased focus on its importance to social explanation. Geographers have contributed to big data studies by incorporating the spatial dimension that is increasingly attached to such data and, in turn, exploring the ways big data has come to mediate the urban experience (Batty 2012).

Amidst this enthusiasm, some concern has been raised as to the diminished interest in ‘small data’ studies, the epistemic limits of big data, and the new challenges posed to privacy/confidentiality, access, data ownership, and ethical use, with the editor of Wired magazine infamously declaring that big data signals the ‘end of theory’ (Anderson 2008). Perhaps the most trenchant critique of big data came in the form of six provocations intending to temper unbridled enthusiasm surrounding big data (boyd and Crawford 2012), while others have tried to retain the important focus on small-scale research methodologies such as interviews, participant observation, ethnography, and grounded theory (Burrell 2012).

Rather than the deterministic result of technological development, big data and its accompanying methodologies are embedded within social and institutional values while also imbricating social relations in particular ways. The means and results of these processes offer rich potential for research; in other words, there is an impetus to study big data in its social and institutional contexts. To this end, critical GIS, feminist geography, critical social theory, and science & technology studies all promise to lend productive insights into these processes.

This session aims to explore these questions through both empirical and theoretical discussions, hopefully launching future conversation.

Potential Questions:
-Does “big data” represent a further step in the so-called computational turn, or is it something new?
-What are the epistemological commitments entailed in a “big data” study?
-What decisions entangle big data in existing social relations? How might these decisions shape future relations?
-In what contexts has the big data phenomenon developed, and how have these influenced its attendant concepts, methods, and uses?
-What is the continued role of “small data” vis-a-vis increased attention to big data? Where is big data not appropriate or advantageous?
-In what ways can critical theories of technology contribute to big data studies? From what other theoretical bases can big data draw? How might ‘small data’ studies draw upon these schools of thought when critiquing big data?
-What ethical dilemmas are introduced by big data, and from what ethical frameworks should big data draw?
-How do the implications of big data differ across diverse communities, populations, and demographics? How are race, gender, class, and other forms of difference implicated differently?

To participate please submit your talk title and abstract to Jim Thatcher (jthatcher@clarku.edu) or Ryan Burns (rlburns@uw.edu) by October 27th, 2012. This session will be part of #GEO/CODE 2013: Geoweb, Big Data and Society organized by the new mappings collaboratory.

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Hello World!

First post!!

At the long-delayed behest of a committee member, I’ve entered 1997 and created my own web site.

This main page will serve to update you when new content is added, or if there’s something particularly important I want to draw attention to.

For now, you can find links to some of my academic writing and an About Me page. My C.V. and some maps and maybe an application or two that I’ve made will be added soon.

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