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The Critical Geowiki Experiment: Bibliography by Amanda Phillips

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 9 months ago



Bibliography by Amanda Phillips


[The Critical GeoWiki Experiment]





Albert, Ian. "Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Maps." Ian-Albert.com. 2005. 13 Feb. 2008 <http://ian-albert.com/misc/zelda3.php>.


Ian Albert's website offers high-resolution maps of video game environments.  His map-creation method utilizes a variety of tools, and for the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past maps, he used a combination of a ROM editor and screenshots from in-game play in an emulator. 


The ROM cartridge is the software medium for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System that contains the data necessary for a particular game.  While this proprietary medium is inteded for access only by its corresponding console, the ROM data can be hacked and stored on a PC, played with the aid of console emulation software, or implemented in an editor for the creation of custom games.


Albert's use of ROM data to construct his maps means that the resulting images are a step closer to the virtual world encoded on the cartridge than taking screenshots filtered through an emulator or DVD representation of the world.  As a result, the maps are "pixel-perfect representations" of the environments in the game.  His set of maps covers every environment in the game, from the exterior overworld (in both light and dark incarnations) to the interiors of caves, houses, and dungeons.


During the mapmaking process, Albert marked the locations of items, characters, and hidden passageways on the maps.  On the overworld map, he also documented corresponding entrances to passageways and labeled areas that have separate interior maps in the database.



Bangalore Geowiki. [2006.] 13 Feb. 2008 <http://ctrlw.net/geo/geowiki/>.


The Bangalore Geowiki is a fully realized application of the worldKit GeoWiki software.  The base image for the GeoWiki is a satellite representation of Bangalore, India, and the data points on the map link to wiki pages that give information for a particular area.  While it reflects the anonymous creator's stated goal to "apply the wiki principles of easy editing, linking and tracking to geographical data," it does so with a clear focus on social collaboration.  The GeoWiki itself is simple but appears flexible, well suited for purposes beyond community building.


In addition to the main GeoWiki page, Bangalore Geowiki includes "About worldKit geowiki," a webpage of project notes detailing the creator's specific implementation of the worldKit GeoWiki software.  Released under Gnu General Public License, this page offers documentation of GeoWiki's functions and how to use them that is more thorough than that provided by worldKit.  Moreover, Bangalore Geowiki provides instructions and code samples for combining the GeoWiki with text-based wiki software, resulting in a web application that functions like a traditional wiki controlled by a geographic interface.  Such a customization extends the flexibility of the GeoWiki implementation, particularly for the purposes of scholarly collaboration.



Fuller, Mary and Henry Jenkins. "Nintendo® and New World Travel Writing: A Dialogue." 1998. Stanford U. 13 Feb. 2008 <http://www.stanford.edu/class/history34q/readings/Cyberspace/FullerJenkins_Nintendo.html>.


Fuller and Jenkins compare notes about old-school Nintendo games and old-world explorers. Their conversation begins with a discussion of the similarities between Nintendo games such as Super Mario Brothers and the published travel documents produced by the likes of Christopher Columbus: "Both terms of our title evoke explorations and colonizations of space: the physical space navigated, mapped, and mastered by European voyagers and travelers in the 16th and 17th centuries and the fictional, digitally projected space traversed, mapped, and mastered by players of Nintendo® video games. Simply put, we want to argue that the movement in space that the rescue plot seems to motivate is itself the point, the topic, and the goal and that this shift in emphasis from narrativity to geography produces features that make Nintendo® and New World narratives in some ways strikingly similar to each other and different from many other kinds of texts."


In their respective historical contexts, these texts are highly visible, mass-consumed cultural objects whose pleasures cannot be accounted for by standing theories of narrative alone.  For these texts, Fuller and Jenkins attribute the urge to experience movement through new and exotic spaces to a feeling that things are getting crowded at home - whether "home" is fifteenth-century Europe or a shrinking twentieth-century globe.  In the absence of a physical New World to explore and conquer, Fuller and Jenkins argue that Nintendo (and other game publishers) foster and continually feeds an "appetite" for consumption of new virtual spaces.


Drawing on De Certeau, they ultimately make the claim that there is some theoretical basis for viewing the spatial experience documented in New World travel writing and certain video games as a narrative one: that, in fact, it is the process of transforming abstract places into culturally significant spaces that constitutes a narrative.  Cartography, practiced both in the New World and virtual world, is an extension of this process.  When the maps are drawn, however, and the spaces conquered, the task of "simulating the early colonial experience" falls to the texts that remain in their wake: the travel writings and games that recount the conquering of wild places.


In the end, Fuller and Jenkins call for a reevaluation of these texts along two specific axes: first, to reorganize the field of narrative to reflect a category for spatial narratives, which may have important implications across time periods; and second, to look at the ideology expressed in video games against a backdrop of economic and cultural exchange, in the same way that scholars of New World travel narratives recognize the roles that these texts played in their own global and historical contexts.



Fusco, Coco. "Questioning the Frame: Thoughts about Maps and Spatial Logic in the Global Present." In These Times. 16 Dec. 2004. 13 Feb. 2008 <http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/1750/>.


Fusco expresses her doubts about the usefulness of new media scholars' tendency to theorize around a celebration of the network by throwing around buzzwords like "trans-national," "mapping," and "borders."  This strategy, she contends, "accords strategic primacy to space and simultaneously downplays time—i.e., history. It also evades categories of embodied difference such as race, gender and class, and in doing so prevents us from understanding how the historical development of those differences has shaped our contemporary worldview."  She traces the development of this "technocentric fantasy" to the "willed historical amnesia" of new media scholars, who she feels situate their scholarship outside of time and fail to recognize the important global activism, media manipulation, and struggles with Empire that occured before the advent of the Internet and computing.


This overarching skepticism of the blind utopianism of new media theory shifts into a specific concern with mapping practices that are becoming more frequent in the field.  "New media culture uses maps to read the world in terms of extremes. Contemporary cultural theory is rife with renderings that celebrate macro views and micro views of the workings of the world, both social and biological—which is to say, maps of vast spaces and physical phenomena and maps of the most minuscule thing."  For Fusco, these views dehumanize the subjects under scrutiny, accounting for the popularity of mapping (as opposed to photojournalism) as a strategy for narrativizing war in the American news media.


The map, she suggests, puts the viewer in an omniscient, godlike position, offering the illusion that the potency of human rationality (and mathematics) is enough to make sense of the world from an abstracted, top-down view.  This abstraction and unqualified promotion of the global view has silenced "[t]hose critical discourses that unmasked the way universals suppress difference, which gave voice to the personal experience of women, the poor and disenfranchised minorities."  Only a grounds-eye view can fully account for the world as it is, populated by those whose lived experience does not include microscopes and satellites but an impossibly complex ground-level media culture.  By neglecting time and difference in favor of space and abstraction, new media theory is losing the ability to fight structures of power.



Storybook England. 2006. VisitBritain. 13 Feb. 2008 <http://www.storybookengland.com>.


Storybook England is an interactive map application that shows the locations of events in well-known children's and juvenile literature, representing authors from J. R. R. Tolkien to Beatrix Potter.  The map takes the form of a storybook itself, with different pages corresponding to different layers of information.  The first page is a look at the entire island, with a list of objects to choose from on the side.  Objects are organized by author or by text, and clicking on an object will put an arrangement of stars on the map corresponding to the events associated with the author or text.  These stars are portals of information, and when moused over give only the title of the work corresponding to that location on the map.  When clicked, they take the user to a second page with a more detailed map of that region.  Alternatively, the user can manually turn pages to cycle through close-up maps of different regions of the island.


On the second page of Storybook England, clicking on the star associated with a work will lead to a page with information relating the real-world location of the map to the fictional location in the text.  In accordance with the touristic motives of VisitBritain, Storybook England combines information about the region with links to websites for tourist activities related to the individual work.  For a Harry Potter entry, for example, the third page references London's train stations and nearby owl sanctuaries to visit.


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