RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014

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386 The Co-production of Digital Geography (2): Reflective Digital Practice
Convenor(s) Elisabeth Roberts (University of Aberdeen, UK)
David Beel (University of Aberdeen, UK)
Chair(s) Elisabeth Roberts (University of Aberdeen, UK)
Timetable Friday 29 August 2014, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Room Sherfield Building, Room 7
Session abstract This session seeks to bring together geographers to critically examine the multifarious ways in which developments in digital technology and the Internet have changed geographic practices. Itwill take a two-pronged approach, creating both a space to reflect on digital research methodologies, as well as a platform to disseminate on-going or completed research that is exploring the interface between geography and digital technology.

From eJournals to virtual learning environments to mobile digital devices used in fieldwork, geographers 'are very much software workers’ (Dodge et al, 2009:1284). Not only have research methods, modes of analysis and dissemination altered, so has the scale and type of data available through the Internet and digital technologies. Beyond geographic research itself, these technological developments impact a number of academic activities such as public engagement, administrative responsibilities and career- and project- related online practices. Significantly, they offer an opportunity to create larger research impact and reach a broader spectrum of non-academic publics, through modes of dissemination and processes of engagement and dialogue. Websites, wikis, open access/source publishing, blogs, podcasting, videocasting, discussion forums, social networking sites and video-blogs offer a host of tools for social scientists to conduct innovative research.

Whilst geographers represent active and vibrant online communities, these practices have yet to receive significant critical analysis or be considered in the broader context of digital geographies. Social scientists are only beginning to utilize and critically reflect on the potential of the Internet and new technologies to impact on their research and work practices, examining emerging ethical issues, good practice, and skills gaps (Edwards et al 2012; Hesse-Biber & Griffin 2013). A set of work is emerging that theoretically reconsiders the spatiality of ICTs, the Internet and digital technologies distinct to geographic disciplines (Dodge and Kitchin, 2009; Graham and Zook, 2013) as well as the opportunities and risks of Big Data (Wilson, 2012; Dodge and Kitchin 2013). The session will complement this work by providing an opportunity to fully consider the implications of all forms of digitally mediated geographic practice. It will provide a forum to discuss theoretical and methodological questions together.
Linked Sessions The Co-production of Digital Geography (1): Theorizing and Positioning Digital Geography
The Co-production of Digital Geography (3) Engaging with Digital Resources
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2014@rgs.org
Web Presence of Academic Geographers: A Generational Divide?
Matthew Wilson (Harvard University, USA)
Sarah Starkweather (Independent)
The pervasiveness of the Internet in society has brought about changes in academia and shifts in the day-to-day practices of many academics. Here, theWeb practices of academic geographers are specifically examined through an Internet-based survey, to better understand how these geographers both present themselves through the Internet and perceive the importance of such practices around Web presence. Situated within this increasing importance of the Internet as part of professional practice and the neoliberalization of the university, the changes in the teaching and research of academics are overviewed. We then discuss our findings, which indicate a relationship between generation and Web practices, and further reinforce the need for a more central discussion of the importance of Web presence within the context of a knowledge economy.
Science blogging below-the-line: a progressive sense of place?
Jonathan Mendel (University of Dundee, UK)
Hauke Riesch (Brunel University, UK)
Despite considerable optimism about what science blogging can achieve – as a public engagement tool for scientists and geographers and as a way of impacting policy more broadly - there has been limited academic research on the topic. This paper will contribute to analyses of digital geography by discussing the case study of the ‘badscience’ blogging network and also considering science blogging more broadly.

The paper argues that the spaces of different blogging networks function in contrasting ways (sometimes being exclusionary and like a closed clique, but also sometimes far more enabling) and that – rather than offering a move beyond more conventional geographical spaces – these virtual spaces overlay and connect to them in complex ways. The paper will consider how geographical work and other social research can help us to conceptualise these spaces and places, and add to the evidence that qualitative observational research can provide valuable information about social media which would be unlikely to be gained through trials. In a challenge to growing concerns about the problems that (sometimes uncivil) below-the-line discussions pose for public engagement with science, the paper will draw on its case study of a community arising from below-the-line in order to argue that the noise and shouting of such discussions can help to build a progressive sense of place.