Author: Arantxa Serantes (*)
It all started with geopositioning , with the need to locate ourselves, to find ourselves or to locate other entities through a search system within physical space, mediated by location software or GPS. A method of observation and analysis mapped and distributed that traces a route as a physical and cultural expression, in the midst of human works and the landscape itself.
The continuous concern for the significance of the environment in which we live has led to the development of a cultural geography to cover this space (tourism, transport, distribution, business, etc. ) need to see themselves represented by this medium to channel and guide that influx of public, improve efficiency, since the perceived environment does not always correspond to the expected social and physical environment, since the trajectories can be especially complex, in terms of movements on the map and in human behavior, much simpler than it appears to be, visually speaking.
Spatial behavior is affected by an invisible zoning in order to associate it with human movement so that it is natural and associated with real distance and orientation, taking into account the changes that the landscape may be associated with. This experience is narrated by Levrero (2000) in his novel La ciudad :
“No estaba seguro de la ubicación del almacén; luego me di cuenta de que más bien no tenía menor idea del lugar donde podría encontrarse. Había ido una sola vez, hacía años y en compañía de otra persona sin necesidad de prestarle especial atención al recorrido para fijarlo en la memoria (…)
Había pocas casas y no parecían estar habitables. Paredes descascaradas e incluso semiderruidas; jardines invadidos por altos pastos y plantas silvestres y una desoladora ausencia de signos de vida humana” (p.19).
This is what the geography of perceived space looks like but in cyberspace, there may also be room for the cybermapping of non-place. There is from the site map (in a web page) but there could also be from the geosites that integrate it, such as topological maps that link places, relative positions and temporal distance in cyberspace, between IPs , servers and control points. The study was carried out with the Visualroute software . Through this program, it was possible to verify the high cyberspace hierarchy between the different states, since there were no linear connections that facilitated the immediacy of access, but rather they had to go through control points located in central countries, compared to the peripheral ones. Therefore, even cybernetically, an open space freed from geopolitical interests is not achieved. Which reminds me of the Romans in Antiquity when they controlled access to the roads.
Virtual worlds also have a physical and human geography, since they are relational, but deep down there is a segregation that affects the infrastructure. Cyberspace has a multiplier effect with respect to other environments. It is estimated that 90% is in private hands and its evolution and ordering are conditioned, because it is an instrument that facilitates the logistics and control of space in its different means (maritime, air, etc. ) although it seems somewhat ethereal and its cartography is dynamic, not static. That is why new cyberplaces , c-spaces or cyberspaces are suggested, both internal and external to intelligent systems. The construction of objects and buildings may update The Cyberspace Atlas that Dodge and Kitchin (2008) worked on in their day.
Probably, the spirit of Google Earth as a virtual environment that represents the real world via satellite is the expression of the hybrid cartographic model that only lacks recognition in situ. The most that has been achieved is Local Guides or Street Views in Maps , although they are static images, not in real time.
AI predicts that the interdependence between the physical and virtual worlds will continue to be a constant, as will the connection between devices in a more innovative way, with the help of augmented reality in order to be able to interact with both, but the important thing would be to come to understand how to intertwine virtual and physical space and how the former could condition present time in the face of an invisible, analog world that surrounds us and that is beginning to be emptied of content for its users. Here is the dilemma.
Dodge, M., & Kitchin, R. (2008). Atlas of Cyberspace. Addison Wesley.
Levrero, M. (2000). La Ciudad. Plaza & Janes Editores.
(*) Digital Humanist and Phd. from USC