Semantic Cities: Coded Geopolitics and the Rise of the Semantic Web

'Code and the City' (in press) edited by Rob Kitchin and Sung-Yueh Perng, published by Routledge, Forthcoming

24 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2020

See all articles by Heather Ford

Heather Ford

University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

Mark Graham

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Date Written: October 28, 2015

Abstract

In order to understand how the city’s contested political contexts are embedded into its digital layers, we traced how the city is represented on online platforms that house facts about much of the world. We did this by analyzing representations of Jerusalem across the Arabic, Hebrew and English versions of Wikipedia (working with a translator on the Arabic and Hebrew versions), as well as on the platforms of Wikidata, Freebase and Google. As our cities become increasingly digital, and as the digital becomes increasingly governed by the logics of the semantic web, there are important questions to ask about how these new alignments of code and content shape how cities are presented, experienced, and brought into being. What we found is a paradoxical situation whereby, through connecting datasets, semantic web initiatives detach localized information from the contexts of its creation. By divorcing content from its contexts, this process establishes new contexts in which necessarily political decisions are being made with far reaching consequences.

Keywords: data politics, semantic web, linked data, search, Wikipedia, Wikidata, Google, representation, critical data studies

Suggested Citation

Ford, Heather and Graham, Mark, Semantic Cities: Coded Geopolitics and the Rise of the Semantic Web (October 28, 2015). 'Code and the City' (in press) edited by Rob Kitchin and Sung-Yueh Perng, published by Routledge, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2682459

Heather Ford (Contact Author)

University of Technology Sydney (UTS) ( email )

15 Broadway, Ultimo
PO Box 123
Sydney, NSW 2007
Australia

Mark Graham

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.geospace.co.uk

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