Archive by Author

Article from Slate concerning personalization of Google Maps: “My Map or Yours?”

28 May

“Google’s plan to personalize maps could end public space as we know it.”

Interesting article on Slate offers a critique of the personalization of Google Maps,  arguing that public space will suffer when Google rolls out its next update where “the maps we see will be dynamically generated and highly personalized, giving preferential treatment to the places frequented by our social networking friends, the places we mention in our emails, the sites we look up on the search engine”. I’ve pulled some excerpts out, but find the whole article  here, on Slate

…Back in 1970, cultural critic Richard Sennett wrote a wonderful little book—The Users of Disorder—that all Google engineers should read. In it, Sennett made a strong case for “dense, disorderly, overwhelming cities,” where strangers from very different socio-economic backgrounds still rub shoulders. Sennett’s ideal city is not just an agglomeration of ghettos and gated communities whose residents never talk to one another; rather, it’s the mutual entanglement between the two—and the occasionally mess that such entanglements introduce into our daily life—that makes it an interesting place to live in and allows its inhabitants to turn into mature and complex human beings.

Google’s urbanism, on the other hand, is that of someone who is trying to get to a shopping mall in their self-driving car. It’s profoundly utilitarian, even selfish in character, with little to no concern for how public space is experienced. In Google’s world, public space is just something that stands between your house and the well-reviewed restaurant that you are dying to get to. Since no one formally reviews public space or mentions it in their emails, it might as well disappear from Google’s highly personalized maps. And if the promotional videos for Google Glass are anything to judge by, we might not even notice it’s gone: For all we know, we might be walking through an urban desert, but Google Glass will still make it look exciting, masking the blighted reality.

The main reason to celebrate maps that aren’t personalized has nothing to do with technophobia or nostalgia about the pre-Google days. It’s quite simple, really: When you and I look at the same map, there’s a good chance that we might strike a conversation about how to enrich the space that the map represents—perhaps plant more trees or build a sidewalk or install some benches. That our experience of what used to be public space is getting increasingly privatized—first with smartphones, then with Google Glass and self-driving cars. True, cars are already something of a private space, but if the driver essentially becomes a passenger, she will pay even less attention to the outside environment. You can’t watch. That all of this is done in the name of “organizing the world’s information” should worry anyone concerned with the future of urbanism.”

– Article by |Posted Tuesday, May 28, 2013, at 7:00 AM. the whole article  here, on Slate


Love Song for March 22, 2012

2 May

by Jess G

EVENT: Tuesday March 20th, 6-8pm: A Walking Tour and Safety Audit, with 
Women in Cities

19 Mar

Tuesday March 20th, 6-8pm: A Walking Tour and Safety Audit, with 
Women in Cities
Where do we feel safe/unsafe and why? Join us for a tour of the city and embark upon a participatory safety audit (bring your cameras, notepads etc!) This workshop is aimed at promoting gender inclusive access to public spaces.

2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy
2110 Mackay
(Métro Guy-Concordia)

For a full schedule of events on gendered violence taking place at the 2110 Centre, check out:

For the next few radio workshops taking place at CKUT 90.3 FM (3647 University), check out:

Maya Rolbin-Ghanie
Promotions & Publicity Coordinator
2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy
1500 De Maisonneuve Ouest, #404

Upcoming Event, Monday Feb 20th: Beyond business as usual: Has Occupy changed us?

15 Feb

The University of the Streets cafe is holding a discussion on the impacts of Occupy, moderated by a sociology prof at McGill who specializes in globalization and labour politics, and an activist/PhD student at UDM interested in multidisciplinary arts with social critique.

University of the Streets is a great community organization, which uses community spaces and cafes to host public conversations. All events are free and open to everyone, democratizing critical discussions on topics that are important to the community.

Check out their website for the whole program of conversations this spring.


Beyond business as usual: Has Occupy changed us?

Français ci-dessous…

Monday, February 20

7pm – 9pm

Café l’Artère

7000, Parc (& Jean-Talon)

The wave of occupations that began on October 15 overtook more than a thousand cities, made an incredible media splash, and had everyone talking. But did the Occupy movement change anything and if so, what exactly? The protestors have been evicted but the rich and powerful remain. While many people are still mobilizing, their actions have faded from view. The movement’s forced retreat could easily prompt cynicism but there may be other ways to consider Occupy’s lasting effects. We know, for example, that many participants were deeply transformed by their experiences and that the Occupy movement brought North America into a global fold of social movements. So does creating or witnessing large-scale protests at home result in real difference? Beyond media reports and political banter, this conversation invites everyone, activists or not, to make sense of Occupy and its possible impacts.


Marcos Ancelovici teaches courses on globalization, social movements, and labor politics in the Department of Sociology at McGill University. His extensive studies have focused on labor responses to globalization, the global justice movement in France, and anti-sweatshop campaigns in Canada and France. Marcos began studying the Spanish “Indignados” in the summer of 2011 and has been doing research on Occupy Montreal since it began on October 15, 2011.

Throughout her activist and professional life, Carminda Mac Lorin has nurtured an interest in creative citizen engagement and democratic experimentation. She has launched many events, fusing multidisciplinary arts with social critique. In 2011, Carminda became involved in Occupy Montreal and spoke about her experience on the Quebec TV show Tout le Monde en Parle.  She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Applied Human Science at the Université de Montréal.


Alex Megelas is an educator, life coach and community organizer. He is interested in dialogue as a necessary foundation to growth and critical citizenship. He is pursuing an MA in Educational Studies at Concordia University and is interested in technology as a form of social power and spectacle in activism. He is the Coordinator of the Personal and Cultural Enrichment Program in the School of Continuing Studies at McGill University. He loves board games, soccer, his cats and you.

Because we were reading Harvey this week…

15 Feb

SECGS: Students Engaged in Critical Geography Studies

8 Feb

This found its way into my inbox via Kevin. Anyone interested in going to their first meeting during the upcoming AAG in the big, radical apple?

Hello All,

      Please forward this to your departments and students.   Students Engaged in Critical Geography Studies (SECGS) was created at a time when many undergraduate critical geographers in the States found themselves to be so far, geographically and intellectually from the conferences and lectures in the UK. After being added to the Critical Geography Forum listserve, I found myself wishing I was in the UK, to be able to apply to these conferences and contribute to these journals. However, realizing that such a community exists in the United States, and more specifically in the Midwest, I decided to start SECGS. Within a few days, I received over 100 requests to join the group, and many emails congratulating me on the project. SECGS is now comprised of 182 students from over 30 universities in the US, UK, Eastern and Western Europe, Australia, and parts of South Asia. Continue reading