Geo-technology meets science fiction reality

Matt Ball at V1 Magazine has picked up on the issue of invasive geo-technologies in How creepy does the use of geospatial technology need to get before there’s a major backlash? People who study military geotechnology have been pragmatically talking about these technologies for a while, and there is some academic writing on geotechnopolitics which critically address some of the issues featured in Matt’s article, but those discussions have not really hit the mainstream in an integrated way.   V1 Magazine is a geo-specialist’s publication which refreshingly in some feature articles bridges academic, current issues and geospatial technologies.  Geomaticians are not always great at critically discussing the socio-technological implications of the tech they use and develop, thus it is great that Matt is firing up that conversation.

This article reminded me of Enemy of the State, Minority Report or some of the crazy stuff you see on CSI (the cool stuff the good guys & gals use).  The paper includes a reference to the concept of Geoslavery.

a practice in which one entity, the master, coercively or surreptitiously monitors and exerts control over the physical location of another individual, the slave. Inherent in this concept is the potential for a master to routinely control time, location, speed, and direction for each and every movement of the slave or, indeed, of many slaves simultaneously. Enhanced surveillance and control may be attained through complementary monitoring of functional indicators such as body temperature, heart rate, and perspiration.

The idea of geoslavery is featured in science fiction movies like Gamer with third party controlled human avatars, Death Race where a prisoner’s space is treated as a large real multiplayer game broadcast as a reality TV show  or Surrogates which features remotely-controlled surrogates who go out into the world instead of the humans who control them from their technologically souped up arm chairs.  Neal Stephenson, in Snow Crash and the Diamond Age has been discussing these ideas since the mid 80s as has William Gibson in Newromancer, how prescient they were!

Census Questionnaires – They’ve been long for a long time!

As part of my PhD Research I am researching how we imagine ourselves with maps and data.  I have chosen to examine the Census and the Atlas of Canada & other geodata at NRCan.  Since the Census is such a hot topic at the moment I thought it would be useful to share some of the fruits of my labour.  Here Census Questionnaires since the BNA Act of 1867.

The Census years ending in 1 are always long forms, the years ending in 6 are generally short form and they start getting to be long forms in 1976.  I only included references for the long quinquennial censuses. The famous form 2b starts in 1971, but we can safely say that the questions are very similar to the 1961 Census.  The 1871-1961 Census questionnaires / schedules should be considered long.

I have PDFs of the years 1976, 81, 86, and 91 and they are very large files.  If you need a copy I will forward them to you (tlauriau at gmail dot com).

These can be considered long form Censuses, they are from the Canadian Century Research Infrastructure (CCRI) project.

2B comes into play

Statistics Canada has published a brief history of the Census and the Agency on their website and Prof. Gordon pasted a table on his blog with some analysis.  He copied the table from the 2001 Census Handbook pp. 29-34.

Book Chapter

Hugh McGuire and I have a chapter included in the following book:

Access to public sector information : law, technology and policy: Volume 1 , Editor: Brian Fitzgerald, Sydney University Press

On the back of the growing capacity of networked digital information technologies to process and visualise large amounts of information in a timely, efficient and user-driven manner we have seen an increasing demand for better access to and re-use of public sector information (PSI). The story is not a new one. Share knowledge and together we can do great things; limit access and we reduce the potential for opportunity.

The two volumes of this book seek to explain and analyse this global shift in the way we manage public sector information. In doing so they collect and present papers, reports and submissions on the topic by the leading authors and institutions from across the world. These in turn provide people tasked with mapping out and implementing information policy with reference material and practical guidance.

An online free version should be accessible shortly.