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Entering a risky territory: space in the age of digital navigation

Valérie November, Eduardo Camacho-Hübner, Bruno Latour

Relying on the fecund interface of three fields—studies in science, risk geography, and knowledge management—this paper notes first that the lack of understanding of the relationships between maps and territory and risks is an unfortunate consequence of the way the mapping impulse has been interpreted during the modernist period. Then, taking into account the advent of digital navigation, the paper discusses a very different interpretation of the mapping enterprise that allows a mimetic use of maps to be distinguished from a navigational one. Consequently, we suggest maps should be considered as dashboards of a calculation interface that allows one to pinpoint successive signposts while moving through the world, the famous multiverse of William James. This distinction, we argue, might, on the one hand, help geography to grasp the very idea of risks and, on the other, help to free geography from its fascination with the base map by allowing a whole set of new features, such as anticipation, participation, reflexivity, and feedback, now being included in the navigational definition of maps.