Blog, Volume #51

Thinking Out Loud #2: Mapping or Excavating?

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In the last post, we stated our intention to map the field of technology and to dig deeper in certain areas. After discussing possible categories we focused on evaluating the critical tools at hand to craft V51, in particular questioning the efficacy of mapping.

Film still from ‘Colossal Cave’, Graeme Arnfield, 11 min, UK, 2016.

Mapping is a useful tool for organizing content around a broad but defined topic. And indeed it was useful for many of the previous issues of Volume. However, since the release of V50 ‘Beyond Beyond’ we set a new goal for ourselves: to dig deeper. A critic would say that to know where to dig you need to map the field. Otherwise, you can’t be sure you are excavating in the right place; we have no objection to that. But drafting the map of a field takes time and a lot of effort, to the point that often the actual digging does not occur at all. And the act of mapping gives you a comfortable feeling of awareness and sense of control, while the reality on the ground is much different. 

That is why for Volume 51 we decided not to map the field of technology, but to select a few ‘entry points’ we think matter most. And if I say ‘we’ I have to include Sigrid Johannisse as guest editor of this issue. So, instead of approaching technology as a surface from where different, distinct elements rise (healthcare, mobility, work and so on), we see it as a group of caves right underneath the ground. We may have a vague idea of where different caves are located, but we do not know what is in them and surely we do not expect to resurface with a complete awareness of its interconnected structure. Two of the four caves we identified so far are: from automation to autonomous and from closed to open data. This doesn’t exclude the possibility that there is more, but these are the ones we’re exploring now. Hopefully, we’ll be able to find their exits and resurface in time to report on our discoveries. Stay tuned.