The word scale refers to a variety of forms. It can refer, for instance, to the bony plates protecting a reptile’s skin; the layers of oxide that occlude old objects; instruments of weighing; graduated values that constitute standardized measuring; the ramifications of a phenomenon; the quality of exposure in a photographic work; an arrangement of musical notes in a given key; to climb a high obstacle; or acts of proportional representation. Ironically, then, the word scale constitutes a variety of scales in and of itself.
My interest in scale in relation to my research began with experiments in self-monitoring through mapping. Over the course of several weeks, in tracing out the paths I took on campus and around town as part of my everyday scholarly life, I started playing with the act of tracing on maps of different scales, revealing different spatial arrangements. While a view from further out, for instance, may emphasize the bus routes around town, a close-up view might emphasize the mundane everyday routes of errands or meeting up with colleagues in the evening. A scale in between, meanwhile, may underscore outliers, revealing, for instance, different campus buildings I travelled to intermittently to meet with different faculty members from my department. The outliers, then, could speak to issues of space on campus, adding a different context and set of actors into the interpretation of my routes. This is when I first recognized the importance and politics of scale.
Though this site presents an opportunity for using scale as a portable theory across disciplines, as hinted at through the myriad definitions of scale and as I aim to start developing on this site, I also want to use this platform as an opportunity to publish posts from which I would not likely launch a broader project in and of themselves, yet help me think through future avenues of research. Scaling subjects, then, becomes a play on words as the title for this platform – it becomes as much about how different subjects (users, communities, government actors, environments, etc.) get scaled in different mapping projects and interfaces, but also how I scale the topics (subjects) that interest me in my research on GPS, digital mapping platforms and digital mapping communities . In other words, this is as much about how people are represented and imbricated in such projects as it is about developing branches of knowledge toward realizing the implications of that.
Likewise, in publishing posts as I finish them rather than as the reworked, polished versions often expected out of scholarly work, I want to recognize the everyday practice of scholarship and how it develops in real-time. If one is to think of scholarship as walking, in extending much of the standing theory of space and place, this is a space of productive wandering that, in my giving it a name, becomes a site of contemplation. With that in mind, I hope this is a site through which, as it develops, others can wander and contemplate their own work too.