View the presentation here, or download the PDF there

1. Our presentation is going to be half theoretical, half descriptive. Indeed, our projects puts into question network and communication concepts, and it seems impossible for us to separate our field practice to the theoretical concerns related to it.

2. Our talk starts with the notion of geoweb. This term was proposed for the first time in 1994 by Charles Herring, in his US DoD paper : An Architecture of Cyberspace: Spatialization of the Internet

3. The Geospatial Web or Geoweb implies the merging of geographical (location-based) information with the abstract information that currently dominates the Internet.

4. This would create an environment where one could search for things based on location instead of by keyword only. “What is Here?”.
The interest in a Geoweb has been advanced by new technologies, concepts and products. Virtual globes such as Google Earth and NASA World Wind as well as mapping websites such as Google Maps, Live Search Maps and Yahoo Maps and so on.

5. What does mapping mean ? What does it mean to localize services, affordances, infrastructures and so on and to spread it over the Internet ?

6. This conducts us to a more general question related to maps. What are maps for ? French anthropologist Bruno Latour claims that maps are firstly a mean to visualize things. Saying so, he claims that maps are descriptive and useful to see the world.

7. But, he also claims that with global mapping, such as google earth, we are able to see everything and nothing at the same time. Indeed, we can ask ourselves, why is it useful to be able to look at this amount of pixels that shows us roofs, grass or streets ?


8. We think that maps are not only visualization tools, but they are tools.

9. Indeed, maps are very useful to plan an invasion for example. Maps are strategic tools.

10. And they’re also practical tools, and serves to help people:

11. To move between to points; to make regional and urban planning ; to understand the landscape we see

12. To invade or defend a country and so on.

13. The GPS is a different map form, but its purpose is the same. It is also a tool, mostly useful to move within the territory

14. These different examples shows us that, beyond being ways of describing the material world, maps are informative tools. And their content are a message.
A message in its most general meaning is an object of communication. It is something which provides information; it can also be this information itself.
Indeed, a map is a graphic form of representation of located ‘things’. And we use maps for the information they give. These information are messages.

15. So, the relation between the information and the practical use we make of them is top-down oriented.

16. Somewhere there is a ‘sky’ of information, like maps, and we use their message for everyday practices.


17. 18. Also, in that sense we can understand maps as domination tools, that shows us the world from a bird’s eyes view.

19. A map is a database, a sum of located information. And there arise the following question: how are maps databases constituted?

20. Google, for example, buys already constituted databases, from states, countries, cities and so on. They collect it, aggregate it and provides their “picture” of the world.

21. Nevertheless, google databases, like the picture of the world they provide, are like a ‘Gruyere’. It is full of holes.

22. For instance, here is Google Earth aerial view of the city of Baghdad, Irak.


23. And, here is the map of the same city, always provided by Google. As you can see, these two views have very less in common.

24. Web 2.0

25. Web 2.0 encapsulates the idea of the proliferation of interconnectivity and interactivity of web-delivered content. Web 2.0 websites allow users to do more than just retrieve information. Users can own the data on a Web 2.0 site and exercise control over that data.

26. For instance, web 2.0 able social networking.

27. Web 2.0 allows people to send localized information to databases such google ones.

28. Here is a flickr map. Foremost, these kind of maps are customized maps, people just add information on existing layers.

29. But there also exists very highly developed grounded databases, such as OpenStreetMaps, that is a world map only constituted from everybody’s information. OpenStreetMap allows people to view, edit and use geographical data in a collaborative way from anywhere on Earth.

30. And, what we can see is that openstreetmap maps are more complete than google’s. This is the openstreetmap of Baghdad in Irak.

31. But…


32. With google, for example, the map is descending to the ground and in openstreetmap the map is coming from the ground.

33. But, in both cases the map is still overhanging. It is always an information sky above our heads.

34. Our hypothesis is to say that there is a potential in considering the two kind of relation between message and uses

35. And this potential may be actual if we consider message and use (or practice) on a common plan. Doing this, the relations are no longer vertical, but horizontal, merging the information sky and the ground in a unique ‘thing’.

36. This approach has already been developed by the situationists in the 60’s. Here you can see a psychogeographic map, constituted thanks to the derive technique. This technique consists in walking in the city with the unique purpose of crossing atmospheres. These atmospheres and the city’s affordances gives sensitive information useful to walking.

37. Our purpose is to know if web 2.0 able us to connect message and uses in a unique form, such as the psychogeographic maps tentative.

38. We then developed wikibivouac.
Wikibivouac is a collaborative map that allows the reappropriation of space in order to create new uses within the city.

39. The wiki element of contributions from anyone aggregates information for improved transient occupancy of place. This project was launched for the first time at Medialab-Prado’s Inclusiva-net event.

40. Wikibivouac

41. Wikibivouac is based on openlayers project, that is a typically web 2.0 database. It provides free and open source tools to design maps for non commercial uses such as research, activism and so on.

42. Openlayers is basically a library of javascript functions

43. And you can call these function form a php webpage in order to design maps.

44. Here is wikibivouac former startpage. On that page you have a form

45. Which allows to enter an address or gps coordinates corresponding to a point you want to add on the map.

46. Then, a map is only code…

47. Here is wikibivouac map. It is an amount of colored geolicalized points.


48. Each point corresponds to a physical address and has a description.

49. Today there are three categories of point. The blue points corresponds to free drinkable water sports; the orange ones corresponds to warm spots and the white ones corresponds to potential food dumping locations.

50. We made three ‘hunting sessions’ in order to collect these localized information that are impossible to find in other maps.

51. Each hunting session was launched thanks to mass mailing. At each time, a video was made in order to present the purpose of the hunt.

52. Hunting Sessions

53. Transition

54. How does it shift the relation between message and use ?

55. We already haven’t talk about the very nature of the relation

56. Actually, this relation is the medium : the physical mean of communication between information and practices. This mean is indifferently used in web or web 2.0

57. Furthermore, as Marshall McLuhan claims, we can consider the medium as the message. Doing so, if we alter the medium, we can also alter the message and reconfigure the relation between message and use.

58. Here you can see wikibivouac topology. As you can see, it is meant to allow communication with distributed people over the world. But, this communication depends on an Internet form, and all the data need to be centralized because of Internet network form.


59. So, from now on the question is to know if Internet as medium is appropriate to the information we’d like to exchange

60. Internet is a highly centralized network. Nowadays, most physical networks (internet, mobile phones) that permit the circulation of information and knowledge and enable communication are centralized and hierarchical.

61. Here is the geographical representation of the physical network (water, energy, phones etc.) that permits the circulation of knowledge and communication in NYC.


62. Everything can be controlled from one point

63. This centralization participates to the logic of power linked to territory occupation and its contemporaneous version is the control (video surveillance, data surveillance, etc…)

64. Here you can see a visualization of Gnutella network. This is a peer-to-peer network, supposed to be non-hierarchic and not centralized. But, Gnutella, as much peer-to-peer information networks working within the Internet depends on Internet form. And because Internet is highly centralized, Gnutella also is. So, Gnutella can be controlled.


65. In order to overcome the centralization problem we need to change the medium

66. You can see here three kind of network topologies. At the very beginning Internet was a centralized network, and today it looks like to a decentralized network. That means Internet is depending on major servers distributed all over the world. In 2007, there were 13 root servers that provide DNS addresses. But at the begnining, in Paul Baran’s dreams, Internet was supposed to be a non-centralized network.


67. That’s the purpose of our forthcoming project, named Le Domaine

68. Manifesto


69. We aim at using radio modems to achieve this. These devices allow data emission and reception through radiowaves

70. Whereas they are usually used for distant control, radio modems allow to create a peer-to-peer network

71. This network topology is distributed and non hierarchic. The data routes are multiple.

72. This nearby area network form is plastic and adaptive to spatial configurations.

73. Then, in Le Domaine message and practices are no longer two separate things,

74. But they tend to be embedded in the human body making people communicating directly.

75. We are going to develop this project using Arduino chips. Arduinno is an open-source electronics prototyping platform. This means that it is possible to transfer open source way of thinking to hardware.

76. With these technologies we intend to shift the geoweb web to a localized web

77. Lexical