Avoiding the Ghetto through hope and fear: an analysis of immanent technology using ideal types
With over one hundred million smart-phone users in the world, mobile, spatially-aware devices are radically altering how individuals move through and experience both physical and social environments. This article presents a theoretical and methodological framework for engaging the emerging geoweb as part of a longer tradition of research into society and technology. A close reading of Microsoft’s Pedestrian Route Production patent, dubbed the “avoid ghetto GPS”, is used to construct two ideal type futures—one hopeful and one frightening. One where spatial technology ensures efficiency, safety, and new forms of coordination, while the other algorithmically sorts society by race and class. Despite not yet and potentially never existing, the patent offers a viable means through which potential futures are made real in the present. Through comparative analysis of these futures, their underlying commonalities are drawn out, revealing the relationship between technology and the delimitation of human experience. This analysis avoids grand narratives and teleological arguments, while making it possible to draw forth the unthought acceptance within each ideal type for the future: the continuing shift of human life itself towards a teleological, always already-calculated standing-reserve. The work on technology of Martin Heidegger and Herbert Marcuse (re)situate the geoweb within long-standing theoretical work on technology and its role in society, modernity, and capitalism.
KeywordsGeoweb Technology Gps Ideal-type Patent Standing-reserve Futures
- Andrews, L. (2012). Facebook is using you. The New York Times. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/opinion/sunday/facebook-is-using-you.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1&ref=opinion. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- Brown, J. S. (2001). Where have all computers gone? Technology Review, January/February, 86–87.Google Scholar
- Calhoun, C., Gerteis, J., Moody, J., Pfaff, S., & Virk, I. (Eds.). (2007). Classical sociological theory (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
- Chansanchai, A. (2012). Does ‘unsafe’ translate to ‘ghetto’ in Microsoft GPS patent? MSNBC Technolog. Available at: http://www.technolog.msnbc.msn.com/technology/technolog/does-unsafe-translate-ghetto-microsoft-gps-patent-117927. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- Chen, B., & Winfield, N. (2012). Apple’s iPhone update leaves out Google’s maps. The New York Times. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/20/technology/apple-ios-6-leaves-out-googles-maps.html?_r=0. Accessed December 10, 2012.
- Cheng, J. (2011). Android tops everyone in 2010 market share; 2011 may be different. Ars Technica. Available at: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2011/01/android-beats-nokia-apple-rim-in-2010-but-firm-warns-about-2011.ars. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- Cooper, S. (2012). Telenav’s Scout: personalized GPS for you and your car, too. Engadget. Available at: http://www.engadget.com/2012/01/09/telenavs-scout-personalized-gps-for-you-and-your-car-too/. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- David, P. A. & Foray, D. (2001). An introduction to the economy of the knowledge society. Economic series working papers 084, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.Google Scholar
- Edwards, J. C. (2007). The thinging of the thing: The ethic of conditionality in Heidegger’s later work. In H. L. Dreyfus & M. A. Wrathall (Eds.), A companion to Heidegger (pp. 456–467). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- English, H. S. (2012) Microsoft taking heat for ‘avoid ghetto’ GPS App. The Inquisitr. http://www.inquisitr.com/179382/microsoft-taking-heat-for-avoid-ghetto-gps-app/. Accessed November 12, 2012.
- Greenman, C. (2001). What’s next; new rules for net search: Location, location, location. The New York Times. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/05/technology/what-s-next-new-rules-for-net-searches-location-location-location.html. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- Hecht, B., & Gergle, D. (2010). On the “Localness” of user-generated content. In Proceedings of the ACM conference on computer supported cooperative work (CSCW 2010).Google Scholar
- Heidegger, M. (1977). The question concerning technology and other essays (trans by. William Lovitt). New York: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
- Herbert, G. (2012). Microsoft ‘avoid ghetto’ app for smartphones’ GPS navigation stirs controversy. Syracuse.com Available at: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2012/01/microsoft_avoid_ghetto_app_windows_phone.html. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- Horkheimer, M., & Adorno, T. W. (2002 ). Dialectic of enlightenment: philosophical fragments. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Janowicz, K., Raubal, M., & Kuhn, W. (2011). The semantics of similarity in geographic information retrieval. Journal of Spatial Information Science, 2, 29–57.Google Scholar
- Jenkins, H. W. (2010). Google and the search for the future. The Wall Street Journal. Available at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704901104575423294099527212.html. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- Keyes, A. (2012). This app was made for walking: But is it racist? NPR. Available at: http://www.npr.org/2012/01/25/145337346/this-app-was-made-for-walking-but-is-it-racist. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- Krumm, J. (2011). Ubiquitous advertising: The killer application for the 21st century. Pervasive Computing, January-March, 66–73.Google Scholar
- Leclerc, Y. G., Reddy, M., Iverson, L., & Eriksen, M. (2001). The GeoWeb: A new paradigm for finding data on the web. In Proceedings of the international cartographic conference (ICC 2001).Google Scholar
- Luke, R. (2012). The Phoneur: Mobile commerce and the digital pedagogies of the wireless web. In P. Trifonas (Ed.) Communities of difference: Culture, language, technology. Palgrave MacMillan, 2005.Google Scholar
- Maguire, H. (2009). Managing mobility: Location-based services and the politics of mobile spaces. Paper presented at Conference workshop at the international communication association (ICA 2009). http://lirneasia.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/final-paper_maguire.pdf. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- Marcuse, H. (1969). An essay on liberation. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
- Marcuse, H. (1982 ). Some social implications of modern technology. In A. Arato and E. Gebhardt (Eds.) The essential frankfurt school reader (pp. 138–162). New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
- Marcuse, H. (1991 ). One-dimensional man. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
- Massumi, B. (2007). Potential politics and the primacy of preemption. Theory and Event, 10(2), Available at: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/theory_and_event.
- Matyszczyk, C. (2012). The joy of Microsoft’s ‘avoid ghetto’ GPS patent. CNET. Available at: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-57354445-71/the-joy-of-microsofts-avoid-ghetto-gps-patent/. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- Milo, P. V. (2012) Microsoft patents ‘Avoid Ghetto Feature For GPS Devices. CBS Seattle. Available at: http://seattle.cbslocal.com/2012/01/06/microsoft-patents-avoid-ghetto-feature-for-gps-devices/. Accessed August 15, 2012.
- Morrow, N., Mock, N., Papendieck, A., & Kocmich, N. (2011). Independent Evaluation of the Ushahidi Haiti Project. Available at: https://sites.google.com/site/haitiushahidieval/news/finalreportindependentevaluationoftheushahidihaitiproject. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- Murphy, D. (2012). Microsoft’s Pedestrian navigation patent dubbed ‘Avoid Ghetto.’ Really? PC Magazine. Available at: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2398562,00.asp. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- Ngak, C. (2012). Microsoft ‘avoid ghetto’ patent sparks controversy. CBS News. Available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501465_162-57355325-501465/microsoft-avoid-ghetto-patent-sparks-controversy/. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- Panabaker, R., Krumm, J. C., Couckuyt, J. D., Tashev, I. J., Seltzer, M. L., Black, N. W. (2007). Route monetization. US Patent Application No. 20080091341.Google Scholar
- Parry, M. (2011). Academics Join Relief efforts around the world as crisis mappers. The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 27, 2011.Google Scholar
- Presley, S. (2011). Mapping out #LondonRiots. NFPvoice. Available at: http://www.nfpvoice.com/2011/08/mapping-out-londonriots/. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- Savelyev, A., Janowicz, K., Thatcher, J., Xu, S., Mulligann, C., Luo, W. (2011). Volunteered geographic services: Developing a linked data driven location-based service. In Proceedings of SIGSPATIAL international workshop on spatial semantics and ontologies (SSO 2011).Google Scholar
- Tashev, I. J., Couckuyt, J. D., Black, N. W., Krumm, J. C., Panabaker, R., Seltzer, M. L. (2012). Pedestrian Route Production. US Patent No. 8090532. Available at: https://docs.google.com/a/google.com/viewer?url=www.google.com/patents/US8090532.pdf. Accessed: February 15, 2013.
- Thatcher, J. (2012a). Can we get there from here? Teleological red-lining and avoiding the ghetto. Antipode Foundation. Available at: http://antipodefoundation.org/2012/03/14/can-we-get-there-from-here-teleological-red-lining-and-avoiding-the-ghetto.
- Thatcher, J. (2012b). From volunteered geographic information to volunteered geographic services: The open-source VGSs system. In D. Sui, S. Elwood, & M. Goodchild (Eds.), Crowd sourcing geographic knowledge. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- The Economist (2007). The world on your desktop. Available at: http://www.economist.com/node/9719045. Accessed August 15, 2012.
- Tristram, C. (1999). Has GPS lost its way? Technology Review. Available at: http://www.technologyreview.com/featured-story/400444/has-gps-lost-its-way/. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- Urken, R. K. (2012). Microsoft ‘avoid ghetto’ App Draws Controversy. AOL Autos. Available at: http://autos.aol.com/article/microsoft-avoid-ghetto-app/. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. (2012). U.S. Patent statistics chart: Calendar years 1963–2011. Available at: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/us_stat.htm. Accessed July 15, 2012.
- Weber, M. (1968). Economy and society: An outline of interpretive sociology. In G. Roth, & C. Wittich (Eds.), New York: Bedminster Press.Google Scholar
- Weber, M. (2005 ). The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism (Trans Talcott Parsons). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Williams, S. (2012). App that would guide users away from high-crime areas proves controversial. CBS Dallas. Available at: http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2012/01/17/app-that-would-guide-users-away-from-high-crime-areas-proves-controversial/. Accessed July 15, 2012.