Ariadne’s Thread: A Letter to Descartes
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As Galileo peered through a lens to see the twinkle of the Jovian moons, and Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek did the same to study the tremulous basis of all life, so the fabric of threads we weave across time and space – the vast net of relations that bind and separate us – is visible only through a lens. Footprints in the snow and the weathered stone steps of buildings hint at the shape of these threads, but the coming of spring and the hardness of stone limit our observations. The Global Positioning System (GPS) now provides us a lens to see the path that individuals, families, and communities take in space-time -- their worldlines. When millions of GPS signatures are collected from hundreds of individuals, heritable patterns emerge that embody particular individual’s ideas and practices, as well as those of the society and the environment in which they operate. Besides providing a tool to test assumptions about how space is used, I argue in this thesis that by allowing us to glimpse a terra incognita, mapping worldlines also provides a unique perspective on our spatial relationship to one another.