How Did I Get Here?: GPS, Surveillance Culture, and Personal Narrative
In "How Did I Get Here? GPS, Surveillance Culture, and Personal Narrative," Speaker # analyzes the emerging possibilities for GPS enabled devices to "write" a different kind of personal narrative. While Scot Barnett has pushed toward thinking about GPS as an adjunct writing tool, and while many scholars, including Nedra Reynolds, Christopher J. Keller, and Christian R. Weisser have asked us to think about the spaces in which writing occur, this presentation radicalizes these ideas by suggesting that with GPS data streams, students can experience a kind of posthuman automatic writing drawn from their everyday experiences of space. Where Barnett, following dominant composition theories of space that focus on exception, highlights GPS as a means of accessing a specific space, this presentation suggests that juxtaposing the intentionally composed, carefully crafted genre of the personal narrative with an accidental account of that same life space/time is the truly productive path of engagement. Following James Bridle, artist and founder of The New Aesthetic, who first thought to download his phone's GPS tracking data and feed it into Google's Maps API, Speaker # suggests that this unintentional life writing, in which the students use the data streams that passively track them through their whole lives, proves a more productive engagement with emerging technologies of writing, emerging cultures of surveillance, and emerging understandings of authorship.
Pilsch, Andrew (2017). How Did I Get Here?: GPS, Surveillance Culture, and Personal Narrative. Available electronically from
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