Cookies

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Mike Crang

book coverCrang, M. Virtual Life. In: del Casino, V., Thomas, M., Cloke, P. & Panelli, R. A Companion to Social Geography. Oxford Wiley-Blackwell; 2011:401-416.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

The social geometries of digital connectivity.
At first glance a social geography of virtual connections seems an oxymoron. For many years, one of the claims behind Information and Communication Technologies (hereafter ICTs) and especially (new) media was to render geography less important. These technologies have long promised, and enabled, proximity without propinquity; they mean people in Birmingham and Bangalore can interact, exchange ideas and information as easily as those in the same city. At least in principle they might. It is clear that in practice there are a range of geographies – thus the scope of communication between Birmingham and Bangalore, even with video conferencing, may still be more restricted than face to face contacts within the cities. There is a consequent question of whether the nature of communication changes when mediated, or whether some kinds of social relations are more easily mediated than others. Secondly, Bangalore just happens to be the high tech capital of India and is globally well connected. A different empirical situation might prevail if our rhetorical example was Brazzaville in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The infrastructures, capacities (both hard, like fibre cables, and soft, like skills) and thus the scope of possibilities are (still) geographically uneven – at all scales from global, to national, to regional, to urban, by age, by class, by ethnicity. Third, this uneven geography produces uneven social effects that may compound existing inequalities. This then is a set of geographies around the so called digital divide(s). Fourth, the use of new media may transform and refract existing spatial behaviors, creating new hybrid spaces. Finally, these new media may afford new arenas of social interaction that have their own internal geographies – where ‘online worlds’ of varying types use spatial frameworks to operate. Throughout the chapter it will become clear that much public rhetoric has focused upon technologies causing social changes. At worst this takes the form of a technological determinism, but even when less stark very often depicts society and technology as independent and opposing ontological realms that seem to clash together. Instead this chapter works through a theoretical vocabulary that see technologies and societies co-constituting each other. Instead of seeing a logic of substitution, where ICTs replace ‘real world’ things, it will focus on logics of remediation where we see a layering of socio-technical forms of life – where new media adds to older media, where social action domesticates new technologies, makes it useful and develops it. The approach will ask whether we can have social geographies that are not technosocial geographies. In other words, a great deal of our social world is now enabled by, mediated by, invested in and bound to various communication technologies. It will conclude by noting developments in technology mean we may have to decenter the human within an internet of things that produce a technological form of life.

References

Anders, P. 1998. Envisioning Cyberspace: The Design of On-Line Communities. In The Virtual Dimension: Architecture, Representation, and Crash Culture, ed. J. Beckmann, 218-33. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
Atkinson, R., and P. Willis. 2007. Charting the Ludodrome The mediation of urban and simulated space and rise of the flaneur electronique. Information, Communication & Society 10 (6):818 - 845.
Bardzell, S., and W. Odom. 2008 The Experience of Embodied Space in Virtual Worlds: An Ethnography of a Second Life Community Space and Culture 11:239-259.
Baum, S., Y. van Gellecum, and T. Yigitcanlar. 2004. Wired Communities in the City: Sydney, Australia. Australian Geographical Studies 44 (2):175-92.
boyd, d. forthcoming. White Flight in Networked Publics? How Race and Class Shaped American Teen Engagement with MySpace and Facebook. In Digital Race Anthology, eds. L. Nakamura and P. Chow-White. New York: Routledge.
Boyer, M. C. 1999. Crossing CyberCities: Urban Regions and the Cyberspace matrix. In The Urban Moment: cosmopolitan essays on the late-20th-century city, eds. R. Beauregard and S. Body-Gendrot, 51-78. London: Sage.
Bromley, C. 2004. Can Britain close the digital divide? In British Social Attitudes – the 21st Report, eds. A. Park, J. Curtice, K. Thomson, C. Bromley and M. Phillips, 73-95. London: Sage.
Burrows, R. 1997. Virtual Culture, urban social polarisation and social science fiction. In The Governance of Cyberspace, ed. B. Loader, 38-45. London: Routledge.
Castells, M. 1996. The Rise of the Network Society: Networks and Identity. Oxford: Blackwells.
Chang, W.-Y. 2005a. The Internet, alternative public sphere and political dynamism: Korea's non-gaek (polemist ) websites. The Pacific Review 18 (3):393–415.
———. 2005b. Online civic participation, and political empowerment: online media and public opinion formation in Korea. Media, Culture & Society 27 (6):925–935.
Chee, F. 2005. Understanding Korean experiences of online game hype, identity, and the menace of the “Wang-tta”. Paper read at Proceedings of DiGRA 2005 Conference: Changing Views – Worlds in Play.
Choi, J. H.-j. 2006. Living in Cyworld : Contextualising Cy-Ties in South Korea. In Use of Blogs, eds. A. Bruns and J. Jacobs, 173-186. New York: Peter Lang.
Copier, M. 2009. Challenging the magic circle: How online role-playing games are negotiated by everyday life In Tracing New Media in Everyday Life and Technology, eds. M. van den Boomen, S. Lammes, A.-S. Lehmann, J. Raessens and M. T. Schäfer, 159-172. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press.
Crang, M. 2000. Urban Morphology and the Shape of the Transmissable City. City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action 4 (3):303-15.
———. 2007. Speed= distance/time: chronotopographies of action. In 24/7: Time and Temporality in the Network Society, eds. R. Hassan and R. Purser, 62-88. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Crang, M., and S. Graham. 2007. Sentient Cities: Ambient intelligence and the politics of urban space. Information, Communication & Society 10 (6):789 - 817.
Crang, M., S. Graham, and T. Crosbie. 2006. Variable Geometries of Connection: Urban Digital Divides and the Uses of Information Technology. Urban Studies 43 (13):2551-2570.
Doel, M., and D. Clarke. 1999. Virtual worlds: simulation, suppletion, s(ed)uction and simulacra. In Virtual Geographies: bodies, spaces and relations, eds. M. Crang, P. Crang and J. May, 261-83. London: Routledge.
Ducheneaut, N., N. Yee, E. Nickell, and R. J. Moore. 2006. Building an MMO With Mass Appeal: A Look at Gameplay in World of Warcraft. Games and Culture 1 (4):281-317.
Fuller, M., and H. Jenkins. 1995. Nintendo and New World Travel Writing: A Dialogue. In CyberSociety: Computer-mediated communication and community., ed. S. Jones, 57-72. London: Sage.
Gershuny, J. 2003. Web Use and Net Nerds: A Neofunctionalist Analysis of the Impact of Information Technology in the Home. Social Forces 82 (1):141-168.
Gordon, E., and G. Koo. 2008. Placeworlds: Using Virtual Worlds to Foster Civic Engagement Space and Culture 11:204-221.
Graham, S. 2002. Bridging Urban Digital Divides? Urban Polarisation and Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs). Urban Studies 39 (1):33-56.
Hjorth, L. 2007. The Game of Being Mobile: One Media History of Gaming and Mobile Technologies in Asia-Pacific. Convergence 13 (4):369-381.
Hjorth, L., and H. Kim. 2005. Being There and Being Here Gendered Customising of Mobile 3G Practices Through a Case Study in Seoul. Convergence 11 (2):49-55.
Holloway, D. 2005. The Digital Divide in Sydney: A sociospatial analysis. Information, Communication & Society 8 (2):168–193.
Jones, S., and S. Fox. 2009. Generations Online in 2009: Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project
Kluver, R., and I. Banerjee. 2005. Political culture, Regulation and Democratization: The Internet in nine Asian nations. Information, Communication & Society 8 (1):30–46.
Lammes, S. 2008. Spatial Regimes of the Digital Playground: Cultural Functions of Spatial Practices in Computer Games Space and Culture 11:260-272.
———. 2009. Playing the World: Computer Games, cartography, spatial stories. Aether: the journal of media geography 3:84-96.
Lash, S. 2002. Critique of Information. London: Sage.
Lee, H. 2005a. Multimedia and the hybrid city : geographies of technocultural spaces in South Korea. PhD, Durham University.
Lee, T. 2005b. Internet Control and Auto-regulation in Singapore. Surveillance & Society 3 (1):74-95.
Longan, M. 2008. Playing with Landscapes: Social Processes and Spatial Forms in Video Games. Aether: the journal of media geography 2:23-40.
Longley, P. A., and A. D. Singleton. 2009. Linking Social Deprivation and Digital Exclusion in England. Urban Stud 46 (7):1275-1298.
Longley, P. A., R. Webber, and C. Li. 2008. The UK geography of the e-society: a national classification. Environment and Planning A 40 (3):60-82.
Maffesoli, M. 1996. The Time of the Tribes. London: Sage.
McGregor, G. L. 2006. Architecture, Space and Gameplay in World of Warcraft and Battle for Middle Earth 2. Paper read at Proceedings of the 2006 international conference on Game research and development at Perth, Australia.
Morley, D. 2003. What's home got to do with it? Contradicatory dynamics in the domestication of technology and the dislocation of domesticity. European Journal of Cultural Studies 6 (4):435-58.
Mortensen, T. E. 2006. WoW is the New MUD: Social Gaming from Text to Video. Games and Culture 1 (4):397-413.
Ng, C., and S. Mitter. 2005. Valuing Women’s Voices: Call Center Workers in Malaysia and India. Gender, Technology and Development 9 (2):209-33.
Ng, K. K. 1999. The Rainbow Connection: the Internet and the Singapore Gay Community. Singapore: KangCuBine Publishing.
Patel, R. 2006. Working the Night Shift: Gender and the Global Economy. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies 5 (1):9-27.
Perrons, D. 2003. The New Economy and the Work-Life Balance: Conceptual Explorations and a Case Study of New Media. Gender, Work and Organization 10 (1):65-93.
Perrons, D., C. Fagan, L. McDowell, K. Ray, and K. Ward eds. 2006. Gender divisions and working time in the new economy : changing patterns of work, care and public policy in Europe and North America. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Pratt, A. 2002. Hot Jobs in Cool Places. The Material Cultures of New media Product Spaces: the case of South of the Market, San Francisco. Information, Communication and Society 5 (1):27-50.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers. 2009. Report to the Champion for Digital Inclusion: The Economic Case for Digital Inclusion: Digital Inclusion Task Force
Robins, K. 1999. Foreclosing on the City? The Bad Idea of Virtual Urbanism. In Technocities, eds. J. Downey and J. McGuigan, 34-60. London: Sage.
Rodan, G. 1998. The Internet and Political Control in Singapore. Political Science Quarterly 113 (1):63-89.
Ryan, B. 2004. AlphaWorld: The Urban Design of a Digital City. Journal of Urban Design 9 (3):287-309.
Salo, D. 2008. How the Virtual Gold Trade Works. Wired 16 (12).
Song, Y. 2007. Internet news media and issue development: a case study on the roles of independent online news services as agenda builders for anti-US protests in South Korea. New Media and Society 9 (1):71–92.
SQW Consulting. 2008. Broadband in the Home: An Analysis of the Financial Costs and Benefits
26. London: Final Report to the Post Office.
Sriramesh, K. 2006. E-government in a corporatist, communitarian society: the case of Singapore. New Media and Society 8 (5):707–730.
Stone, S. 1995. Split Subjects, Not Atoms; or, How I Fell in Love with my Prosthesis. In The Cyborg Handbook, ed. C. Gray, 393-406. London: Routledge.
Tang, P. S., and P. H. Ang. 2002. The diffusion of information technology in Singapore schools: a process framework. New, Media & Society 4 (4):457-78.
Turkle, S. 1996. Life on the screen : identity in the age of the Internet. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
Virilio, P. 1998. Critical Space. In The Virilio Reader, ed. J. Der Derian.
Wellman, B., A. Smith, A. Wells, and T. Kennedy. 2008. Networked Families, 55. Washington DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Williams, D., N. Ducheneaut, L. Xiong, Y. Zhang, N. Yee, and E. Nickell. 2006 From Tree House to Barracks The Social Life of Guilds in World of Warcraft. Games and Culture 1 (4):338-361.
Yoon, K. 2003. Retraditionalizing the mobile: Young people's sociality and mobile phone use in Seoul, South Korea. European Journal of Cultural Studies 6 (3):327-43.