Caren Kaplan has created a super cool 3D graphic novel that 6 parallel stories inside an interactive cube - brilliant!
"Welcome to Precision Targets: GPS and the Militarization of "Everyday" Life. I'm Caren Kaplan and I created this multimedia piece in collaboration with Erik Loyer and Ezra Clayton Daniels, with funding in large part from the American Council of Learned Societies Digital Innovation Fellowship.
This project began many years ago in 1994 when I happened to read something in The New York Times about a new technology that could help a sight-impaired person get from one place to another. The article described a backpack-sized device that would use something called the "global positioning system" or "GPS" to locate precisely the person's whereabouts and then link to a voice-guided mapping service. Using GPS, someone who couldn't see could move about independently at will. I thought this sounded really exciting and I clipped the story out of the paper, thinking I could use it in a class I was planning to teach on theories and practices of mobility. But before I could go much further, I needed to know more about this new technology, GPS.
To my surprise, my first online search for GPS brought me hundreds of hits concerning the military and the 1st Persian Gulf War. This piqued my interest and the next thing I knew I was researching military technology, satellite programs, and the history of air power. And I have been pursuing these topics ever since—although it took me awhile to understand how my new interests were not a deviation from my studies of postcolonial travel and gender but, rather, the best way for me to grasp the links between culture, politics, and economics through the concrete example of militarization.
GPS was always envisioned as a "dual-use" technology; that is, available for both military and civilian use. Throughout the 1990s, the same technology that had guided the so-called "smart bombs" to targets in Iraq, became mainstreamed into everyday life in the U.S: mapping auto routes, identifying consumer groups, keeping track of children, and entertaining us through games and applications. GPS entered the late 20th century social imaginary and changed people's perceptions about space and time, especially the power of identifying increasingly precise locations and the pleasures of personal electronics. Of course, in the post-9/11 era, anxieties about national security and borders of all kinds have generated new conversions of GPS and allied technologies such as biometrics. Thus, the circulation of GPS between military and civilian use is instructive if we want to understand better the ways in which government and business cooperate not only to make war but to create consumers. Most importantly, in this way, people who have no particular interest in military projects or nationalism may find themselves through their use of technology in everyday life participating in the culture of war: through ways of seeing, forms of entertainment, and modes of communication.
My study of GPS in this era of seemingly endless war has led me to ask how "dual-use" technologies blur the distinction between military and civilian spheres. What are our expectations and assumptions about information technologies? How can we say "no" to war when we say "yes" to militarization every single day? Precision Targets is designed to raise these questions and others as you move through the multimedia piece to engage the animated possibilities of GPS in everyday life."