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20 years of seeing with GPS: perspectives and future directions - 1 May 2020

Please note that this event has passed.

On 2 May 2000, then-US president Clinton discontinued the Selective Availability (SA) of GPS, which effectively demilitarised the GPS signal and made it a publicly and commercially available technology. This decision led to GPS becoming one of the principle technologies of 21st century life, featuring in countless applications and practices, ranging from digital mapping technologies and navigational practices to novel forms of digital art, leisure seeking, socialising, surveillance and location-based tracking. Over this time, GPS has been said to alter our spatial perception and location awareness, social practices, consumer behaviours, mobilities, military and logistical operations, transportation and urban planning, privacy concerns, and much more.

To mark twenty years of GPS in the public realm, we invite participants to join us for a one-day symposium to discuss, question and reflect upon how GPS has affected how we see the world. From our situated everyday experiences of navigation and self-tracking, to the wider ways in which the world can be seen from afar by us and digital technologies through trackable objects, practices and mapping interfaces, it is simple enough to propose that GPS has changed our relationship to the world. However, when we begin to look more closely at how GPS has affected the personal, political, cultural and economic ways in which the world is now seen and experienced, there is still much room for enquiry and reflection. Many have discussed how GPS has become central to contemporary socio-economic practices, but rarely has GPS been discussed in relation to ways the world is seen from different personal, political, cultural and economic perspectives. With the aim of having these discussions, we invite papers that address how humans, objects and practices came and continue to see with GPS, see through GPS and be seen by GPS from different perspectives and in different contexts - and how these ways of seeing will shape us and our societies in the future.

For this intentionally broad thematic symposium we welcome contributions on a wide range of topics and disciplines, but especially papers that address seeing, experiencing and understanding with, through and by GPS.

For further informatin you can contact the organisers via email: and

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Michael Duggan

Michael Duggan

Lecturer in Digital Culture, Society and Economy

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Event details

1 May 2020