accumulation through incorporation
another excerpt from the ma dissertation on
“While “information geographies” describes the structural inequalities, both local and global that affect how data is produced, such renderings forget the modes of connection that people will always find, despite all forms of social or economic difference. Because of course, to “draw upon and produce ‘metanarratives’ and totalizing theories” would be to reduce these interactions into binaries of “oppression and domination,” ignoring the social contexts that allow us all to connect across difference, despite structural inequity (Katz 2006).
Ultimately, OSM’s digital frictions and ethical assemblages serve to channel more data into the OSM database, and enable the absorption of more people, their “situated knowledges” and everything in between into its orbit (Haraway 2009). In doing so, the project proves a vital point. Instead of dispossessing people of their geodata by force or otherwise, HOT in particular proves how advocating for a more “diverse and inclusive” map might also be a way of procuring data for it. Indeed, in advocating for “data quality” in the form of “data locality,” the narratives mobilized by HOT in particularly enable entry into markets that would have never previously been possible without voluntary access. That is not to say that these narratives are not true: OSM can enable individual and collective empowerment through data-making in an era of proprietary platforms, an impossible act before the age of the internet. But can OSM, in its capacity as a pluriverse, encompass them all, and incorporate them all into its orbit? Only time will tell.
In any case, it is this simultaneous co-construction of social lives on both OSM and the internet at large by both economic realities and affectual interactions that I call accumulation by incorporation. It is an attempt to this expansiveness and capacity to contain difference while generating”