Visualising Economic Geographies - Global Conference on Economic Geography

Saturday 22nd August, 10:10 - 11:30. South Writing School

Session outline

Visualization is on the rise.  Beyond academia, actors in all realms of economic life are adopting visualizations to analyse their activity and communicate their conclusions. Within economic geography there is a long tradition of using maps, charts and diagrams in our work, but as more powerful software and hardware become available to analyse and visualise increasing amounts of data, there are new possibilities for how we collect, understand and disseminate information. At the same time, as concepts become more complex we face challenges to depict them in accessible ways. To fully realize the potential of visualizations we must also theorise their production and consumption. This is an opportunity for the sub-discipline to seize.

Paper 1 - Theorizing visualisations – an inter-disciplinary approach

Adam Jenson (Northumbria University)

In academia and beyond the popularity of visualisations continues to increase.  However, in the public realm its development has privileged practical understanding rather than developing theoretical knowledge. A recent example of this is the intervention from Viégas and Wattenberg (2015) who call for rules for critique by redesign, and fail to acknowledge underlining philosophical perspectives influence the production and consumption of information visualisations. Within academia, disciplinary silos have limited the extent to which theoretical discussion can happen.

The first aim of this paper is to illustrate the ways in which theorizing visualisations has been neglected and begin to explore the reasons why an inter-disciplinary approach may be best placed to advance theoretical understandings of information visualisation. I use examples of existing literature from cartography, GIS, graphic design, semiotics and the emerging literature on data to outline how they could be combined to better understood visualisations.

The second aim is to outline a practical methodology to mobilise this interdisciplinary approach. This will be done in reference to the ways in which local authorities in England are adopting visualisation techniques to understand the contexts in which they work, and to communicate their policy decisions to a range of audiences.

Paper 2 - Dynamic visualization of the passenger flows on the Metropolitan Seoul Subway system and the spacio-temporal characteristics

Keumsook Lee (Sungshin Women’s University)

This study proposes the dynamic visualization methods for the diurnal passenger flows on the Metropolitan Seoul Subway system (MSSs) and examines the spacio-temporal characteristics. We utilize the one week passenger flows information of the MSS systems from the T-card passenger trip transaction databases. By operating a smart card system, the public transportation system of Metropolitan Seoul obtains real passenger flow data on the real time basis. The smart card (called the T-money card in Seoul) data contain over 16,000,000 transactions per day. It is practically intractable to analyze such passenger flows, involving huge, complex space-time data by means of general statistical analysis. In order to analyze intuitively and to grasp effectively spacio-temporal characteristics of the passenger flows, we propose various dynamic visualization methods for the passenger flows In particular, we visualize diurnal passenger flows of each link on the subway network and analyze the time-space characteristics of passenger ridership for the major CBDs as well as the daily fluctuation of one week intra-urban passenger flows. As the result, we can ascertain the strong association between CBD and subway line and clarify the distinction among three major CBDs in the diurnal patterns of subway passenger flow.

Paper 3 -  Visualising Regional Patterns of Collaborative Software Development Through GitHub: Does Sub‐Saharan Africa Code Home or Away?

Sanna Ojanperä and Stefano De Sabbata (Oxford University, Oxford Internet Institute

Recently, the Sub--‐Saharan African region has seen a dramatic increase in international connectivity. Accounts in the academic and policy literature are eager to link the increasing connectivity to an information revolution in the region, and many argue that the Internet is allowing a democratisation of information and knowledge production. However, it is remarkable how little empirical knowledge we have about current geographies of knowledge and information, and the ways that these landscapes are changing over time.

As such, it is important to empirically explore whoproduces and reproduces, who has access to, and who is represented by information and knowledge in our contemporary knowledge economy. The growth of knowledge economy is typically attributed to a set of drivers in areas such as education, human capital, innovation, and connectivity.

We seek to explore how these drivers map onto Sub--‐Saharan African geographies by exploring spatial patterns of contribution to GitHub, a leading code repository hosting service. GitHub is a common collaborative software development service, and its archive of contributions provides detailed data to explore generation and collaboration around knowledge and problem solving.

This paper first measures and visualises the usage of GitHub in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa. We analyse the location of users and their contribution through comparing the user population and number of commits between Sub-‐Saharan Africa and other world regions, and investigate how the patterns we find relate to the drivers attributed to knowledge economies. We also compare GitHub data to previous work exploring the geographies of knowledge production in academic research. Such work has suggested that Sub-Saharan Africa is often outward‐oriented where collaboration among Sub‐Saharan African countries is minimal in comparison to their collaboration with foreign researchers. We explore the collaboration patterns of Sub-Saharan African GitHub users, and compare the rate of within‐region collaboration with collaboration between regions, to see if the outward-orientation of knowledge production also stands within collaborative coding. The paper then contributes to research agendas that seek to build an understanding of geographies of information, and empirically explore how inequalities emerge even as digital production becomes more accessible.


Paper 4 - Cutting the Gordian knot of visualizing dense spatial networks: the case of the world city network, 2013

Ben Derudder (Ghent University)

Networks have become ubiquitous in the analysis of socio-economic patterns. Importantly, most these networks have an inherent geographical dimension, and are therefore a relevant object for geographical research and related thinking on cartographic mapping and visualization. The visualization of spatial networks is, however, still in its infancy. In this featured graphic, we present and discuss some of the typical issues associated with the visualization of spatial networks, as well as the emerging possibilities to tackle these issues. In particular, we focus on a state-of-the-art graph layout algorithm that uses edge bundling on network layers in conventional maps. We use the example of the geographies of the world city network in 2013 as researched by the Globalization and World Cities network (GaWC).

Paper 5 - Visualising Patronage Networks

Jon Swords (Northumbria University)

This paper presents early findings from a British Academy/Leverhulme small grant project exploring crowdfunded patronage networks mediated by the Patreon website. This portal allows patrons to back creators working in a diverse range of arts fields, including video and film, music, writing, comics, drawing and painting, animation, videogames, education, dance and theatre. In contrast to sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, where backers support one off projects, Patreon is subscription based with patrons paying anything upwards of $1 a month to artists. In return creators provide early and exclusive access to their work.

Web-mediated patronage is step-change from traditional patronage relationships in terms of who and where patrons are found. The potential for transnational relationships between artist and backer is not something unique, but digitally created work it does reframe questions of access to a creator’s output. Perhaps most interesting, new actors are enrolled into circuits of cultural production: the website owners and the algorithms they write act as curators of work, and new intermediaries are enrolled to manage financial relationships. The scale and scope of this activity also challenges the place of existing arts funding models.

Social network analysis data of patron-creator relationships from Patreon is visualized. Relational and geographical networks of actors will be presented to highlight patterns of backers and makers.