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Intensive movement in wireless digital signal processing: from calculation to envelopment

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2009
JournalEnvironment and Planning A: Environment and Planning
Journal number6
Volume41
Number of pages15
Pages1294-1308
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The paper broadly concerns the set of algorithmic processes associated with wireless networks known as ‘digital signal processing’ (DSP). By virtue of its labyrinthine technical complexity, wireless DSP is a worst-case scenario for social science research into software and code. This specific type of real-time computation, however, is vital to the proliferation of wireless services, devices, and products, and hence to the recomposing – shape-shifting urban spaces they inhabit. The paper addresses the problem of accounting for the convoluted nature of the DSP associated with wireless communication. I argue that we can understand what is at stake in DSP only by changing focus away from abstract understandings of code, calculation, and software to specific design processes that fold new configurations of space and movement into wireless network signals. I argue that, at the moment, the ongoing dynamism of wireless networks could be just as important to understand as the altered modes of proximity, intimacy, colocation, and distance associated with wireless technologies such as mobile phones, wireless networks, game controllers, and remote controls. To this end, I frame wireless DSP in terms of intensive movement produced by a centre of envelopment. Centres of envelopment generate extensive changes, but they also change the nature of change itself.