What I Read This Week - 2nd September

Maps, mainly. Some other things too. - Stuffed (James Santel at The Paris Review)

But the painless decisions ended there. I realized that a certain ruthlessness was required to decide the fates of the books situated between the poles of adoration and indifference. I gave my Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism to a friend and immediately felt lighter; I sold all of my Kafka and immediately regretted it

For what it's worth, I still regret leaving my copy of Rivkin and Ryan's Literary Theory: An Anthology on a Boston bench in a hasty attempt to lighten my load before moving back to California for the summer.

- Are Our Transit Maps Tricking Us? (Jessica Gross at The Atlantic Cities)

we trust transit maps even more than our own experience.

- The Hole in Our Thinking about Augmented Reality (Whitney Erin Boesel at Cyborgology)

And critically, why are we limiting ourselves with dualist framings by implicitly accepting that whatever the applicable categories are, there are only two designations: “digital” and “physical”? What happens if we push past binary logic in our critiques of digital dualism?

It also seems clear that ‘digital’ is the marked category, and that whatever kind of thing it is, ‘not digital’ is such only by implication or association; ‘online’ is the Other without which the Subject (the dualists’ supposed ‘offline world’) cannot define itself. This highlights an additional problem (one among many, really), which is the way the term ‘physical’ implicitly becomes a catchall for all the things and kinds of things that are not already marked as ‘digital’. Some things are neither digital nor physical; thoughts, sensations, power dynamics, *-isms (to name just a few) may have both physical and digital manifestations, but don’t fit neatly into either designation. If our goal is to understand our (augmented) world, we do ourselves a disservice by lumping all of its non-digital aspects under ‘physical’. As we work to better theorize the differences between atoms and bits, can we consider as well the differences between those things that are neither? Or those things that might be both?

- Mapmaker, Artist, or Programmer? (Eric Jaffe at The Atlantic Cities)

"What I think this really established was that each city has a few streets, areas of shore, or scenic outlooks that are core to its identity, and you can tell which they are by the places that people take pictures of over and over again," he says.

- The Road Makes All the Difference (Michael Sacasas)

When I plug an address into a GPS device, I expect one thing: an efficient and unambiguous set of directions to get me from where I am to where I want to go. My attention is distributed between the device and the features of the place. The journey is eclipsed, the places in between become merely space traversed.

- How Google and Apple's digital mapping is mapping us (Oliver Burkeman at the Guardian)

In an era of previously unimagined opportunities for exploring the far-off and strange, we want mainly to stare at ourselves.