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The Rise of Maptivism: London Protests

February 22, 2011

The rise of web 2.0 and it’s associated technologies such as mobiles, web access, Google maps and Twitter have brought with it a host of new ideas and developments around our sense of place.  We can learn and share much more about our immediate physical environment.  While until recently this was mainly confined to personal navigation, ARG games and the like, it has also started to be adapted as a tool for protest – Maptivism.  We’ve seen this used in the student protests in London, from the iRevolution blog, who wrote some interesting stuff on mapping the protests:

My colleague Adeel Khamisa from GeoTime kindly shared this news story on how student protesters created a live tactical map to outwit police in London during yesterday’s demonstrations.

The blog then goes on to discuss some of the limits of this approach and how it can be improved (and how gamic it looks!):

As I looked closer at the map, it occurred to me how much this resembles a computer game with moving characters. The strategy employed by the police can be discerned by the pattern below.

But I doubt that students were able to update their Google map in real-time directly from their mobile phones, let alone via SMS, Twitter, Smartphone App, camera phone or Facebook. Nor can they subscribe to alerts and receive them directly via an automated email or SMS. Indeed, it appears they were using Google Forms to “crowdsource” information and this Twitter account to disseminate important updates. … This is why I got in touch with the group and recommended that they think of using Crowdmap (free and open source):

(Also posted on the p2p foundation blog.)

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 22, 2011 12:21 pm

    The crew behind the UCL google map have been developing this which does a number of the things the post mentions that the original map/tool didn’t such as work on smartphones (though it still isn’t FOSS).

    I had an interesting chat about this stuff with Dan Dixon regarding the idea of systemic activism… Just as the cops ‘game’ the laws around allowing peaceful protest by kettling anything that resembles a protest before it’s even formed (and then lying about what they’ve done), the protesters react by learning how to ‘game’ the kettle tactic through using digital telecommunications to forewarn them of where the police lines are forming and legging it in the opposite direction…

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