Spatial Identity (Politics)

This fascinating, and somewhat unsettling study came out last year that illustrates techniques for user profiling based on a relatively small number of geolocated tags:


The underlying implications of this paper radically shifts the conversation on user profiling from a purely relational analytic to one with a distinctly spatial dimension. “You Are Where You Go” as the paper says. Looking at geospatial checkins taken from Weibo users in Beijing and Shanghai, the study had success in predicting demographic profile information such as “gender, age, education background, sexual orientation, marital status, blood type and zodiac sign.” Columbia University students also recently implemented the application for the US and US based geolocation/social media platforms.

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How does this change the way we think about identity as a spatial construct in the city and the various (soft) tactics for manipulating our identity the city: camouflage, mimicry, misdirection, jamming, etc.? Is even Banksy safe? What new counter-mapping platforms are needed deploying tactics for amplifying or obscuring one’s geo-digital footprint, not only to foil the impending geospatial tracking capacities of governments, corporations, and other potential adversaries, but also, and more importantly, to open up a more engaged conversation with our (increasingly data-mediated) environment?

In this spirit, here is a great collection of maps and mapping practices that sought to “transgress space”, from the Situationists’ Naked City, to William Bunge’s radical cartography of 1960’s Detroit, to forensic maps of drone strikes or toxic waste spills.