Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Lexicon of Place Studies and Locative Media

I'm in the process of preparing for my PhD comprehensive exams (or rather my faculty's equivalent). So I'm currently enmeshed in the literature related to my topic - how people use location-based services to make sense of their places.

The only thing academics love more than using big words is coining a new term.  As such the literature becomes baffling with jargon.  However, this problematic jargon belies what are often fascinating and useful concepts. So I started keeping track of the jargon as I think it offers brief snapshots into how location-based services function and their possible role in shaping sense of place.

I have already blogged on terminology related to mobiles and locative technology. This blog post will focus on how such technology might affect our relationship and meanings of our world, with some background terms added.

Below, I offer my simplified definitions, with a key theorist in parenthesis.
  • authenticity - how "real" a place is, offers genuine experiences, popular turn with humanistic geographers (per Relph and Tuan)
  • autobiographical insideness - high degree of integration of one's lifestory with specific places (per Rowles)
  • chora - early notion of existential space (per Plato)
  • cyburg - technology enmeshed with urbanity (per Cuff)
  • deep map - mapping a place through through thick, multifaceted description
  • dérive - unplanned, open-minded exploration (per Debord)
  • détournement - creating new meanings & representations of places to counter dominant representations (per Debord)
  • digital cities - visionary concept of technology embedded and aiding city life
  • dwelling - existential and contextual engagement and living with place (per Heidegger)
  • ecotopes - distinct landscape
  • Everyware - similar to ubiquitous computing
  • field of care - feeling of protection for specific place (per Tuan)
  • flâneur - person who wanders to city to experience and appraise it (per Baudelaire)
  • gazetteer - geographic directory
  • genius loci (also spirit of place) - a sense that a place that has a distinct identity
  • geographic behaviour - how humans behave in and in relation to space
  • geographic experience - event in space/place significant to an individual
  • geosymbol - a structure(s) or area that represents a larger, meaningful concept (per Bonnemaison)
  • humanistic geography - branch of human geography that place individual experience at the centre of meaningful engagement in the world (per Relph and Tuan), similar to existential geography
  • hybrid space - the enmeshing and inter-dependence of space/place, people, and technology (per Gordon, de Silve e Souza, Kitchen & Dodge)
  • insideness - personal connection with a place, being an insider (per Relph)
  • landscape - physical features of an area
  • lifeworld - the world we live in, experience, and create meaning (per Husserl)
  • lived space - similar to the lifeworld but also the space where social meanings take form (per Lefebvre)
  • local knowledge - body of knowledge that a specific, co-located people have particularly regarding their places and landscape (per Geertz)
  • locale - the natural and human form of a distinct space (per Cresswell)
  • location - a specific point in space
  • motility - ability to move, free and by one's own efforts (in contrast to mobility, which implies only geographic movement)
  • mobilities - field of study looking at how and why humans move through the world and the resulting meanings, including the tools they use (such as mobile devices)
  • neogeography - movement using new digital, often collaborative, tools, methods, and artistic forms to map and understand our world
  • network locality - hybrid space meets place (per Gordon)
  • non-place (also placelessness) - a space, often a building or area, that lacks "authentic qualities" that is it is bland, generic, derivative of other places, examples include malls, airports, and suburbs (per Relph, Augé)
  • non-representational theory - belief that meaning in our world is constantly in flux, our social world is a process and thus best conceived through performance rather than as a representation (per Thrift)
  • personal geographies - individual sense of their places and areas, including individual or friend-based playful interaction with places and mapping
  • place - space made meaningful
  • place attachment - emotional attachment to a specific place
  • place dependence - usually reliance on a specific place (either based on its utility or proximity), can also mean such a high degree of connection that one is emotionally dependent on a place
  • place identity - the role places having in shaping and projecting human identity (but can also include the belief that places have an identity, see genuis loci) if this identity is shared it is known as "collective identity"
  • place loss - feeling of loss when removed from a meaningful place (e.g. refugees)
  • place-making - efforts to make a space/place more pleasing, harmonious, meaningful or memorable either through physical efforts (e.g. landscaping, architecture) or marketing  
  • placemarker - a distinct physical structure that aids one's memory of a space, essentially a bookmark for a place
  • psychogeography - creating new awareness of our places and foster new experiences  (per Chtcheglov and Debord)
  • rootedness - feeling of connection and a historic link to a place (per Hay)
  • sense of community - feeling of familiarity and attachment with the people of a given area
  • sense of place - meanings and feelings related to a place
  • sites of memory - physical features that are created or given meaning to represent and honour collective history (per Nora)
  • social objects - objects (but could be places, e.g. restaurants, monuments) that spur conversation and socializing (popular in social media theory)
  • social production of space - theory that our world is constructed by social processes (per Lefebvre)
  • space - the physical world (often used as free of human meaning)
  • spatial cognition - human ability to comprehend and visualize euclidean relationships between spaces
  • Third space - a physical site or forum for free public discourse (per Oldenburg), similar to the public sphere (per Habermas)
  • toponym - a place name
  • topophilia - love of a place (per Tuan)
  • topophobia - fear or negative feelings towards a place (per Tuan)
  • topos - the physical features of the world
I would love to hear from others on their take on these terms or terms I should add to this list.

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