Angles on Bending Lines: Luis Alvarez León on how maps and geographic data underpin the digital economy





May 19, 2021


12:00 EDT



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Suggested further reading

  • Alvarez León, L. F. (2015). The Digital Economy and Variegated Capitalism. Canadian Journal of Communication, 40(4), 1–18.

  • Alvarez León, L. F. (2016). Property regimes and the commodification of geographic information: An examination of Google Street View. Big Data & Society, 3(2), 2053951716637885.

  • Alvarez León, L. F. (2018). A blueprint for market construction? Spatial data infrastructure(s), interoperability, and the EU Digital Single Market. Geoforum, 92, 45–57.

  • Ash, J., Kitchin, R., & Leszczynski, A. (2018). Digital geographies (1st edition). SAGE Publications.

  • Clark, J. (2020). Uneven innovation: The work of smart cities (1st Edition). Columbia University Press.

  • Crawford, K. (2021). Atlas of Ai: Power, politics, and the planetary costs of artificial intelligence. Yale University Press.

  • Sadowski, J. (2020). Too smart: How digital capitalism is extracting data, controlling our lives, and taking over the world. MIT Press.

Part of the How Data Can Warp Our World series of conversations

Our exhibition Bending Lines: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception examines how visual representations of the world can shape what people believe. But sometimes biases and distortions are built into the data that is used to produce a map. Far from offering a perfectly objective, all-encompassing view of the world, data sets of all kinds are deeply shaped by human choices.

In this conversation series, we talk with experts about why we should be careful about geographic information in modern data. How is data collected, and how does it get fixed into categories and numbers? Who gets to own data sets, and who gets to make decisions using them? What sorts of public responsibilities should shape the social lives of data?

Photo of Luis Alvarez Leon

These talks are free, designed for general public audiences with time for questions. Talks will be broadcast over the LMEC’s YouTube Live and Facebook Live channels.

Luis Alvarez León is an assistant professor of geography at Dartmouth College whose work focuses on the political economy of geospatial data, media and technologies.

Bending Lines was made possible in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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