“Sensing” Place: Habit Change in the Mobile, Connected Present

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We live in an age when mobile touchscreen devices are customarily “on” and in-hand. As a consequence, we frequently engage in practices that involve documenting the self in motion, our geolocational beads (or arrows) locating us and guiding us to destinations of interest (e.g., ATMs, gas stations, restaurants, friend’s houses). These are the sorts of habits our technologies engender. And I contend that, in doing so, they help form and regulate conduct in a nonconscious, habitual—even neurophysiological—manner. In which case, it is at the nonconscious level of existence that habit change needs to work. In this talk, I will draw on American pragmatist Charles Sanders Pierce’s account of habit change to discuss how our geolocative devices might orient us differently in relation to the landscapes and urban terrains we traverse. To provide example of what habit change might look like in the mobile, connected present, I discuss three collaborative mapping projects in whose design and development I have participated. These projects—Augusta App, Ghosts of the Horseshoe, and Ward One App—have afforded me opportunities to explore how the very mechanisms through which technologies of connectivity and location awareness shape habit might also serve as vehicles for re-appropriating social, political histories and practices in the service of habit change.
Presentation given as part of Indiana University Bloomington's GIS Day event.
mapping, mobile technologies, GIS
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