Representing Places and Change: From the Dynastic to the Diurnal

GIScience Colloquium, University of Zurich-Irchel, May 3, 2011

Paul Longley

“This presentation will take stock of ongoing work at University College London that seeks to profile the dynamics of local area change at temporal scales ranging from the dynastic to the diurnal. We begin with the genetic structure of Great Britain, and evidence that the historic origins of family names remain important in understanding spatial structure. Our regional classification suggests that population mix is today an amalgam of contagious and hierarchical diffusion – with the former incremental over time, and the latter precipitated by episodic events. Next, we reflect on 80 years’ research into the kaleidoscope of change in urban areas, which has culminated in use of geodemographic indicators of social similarity and built form to link disparate geographic locations. Such indicators have more recently been used to characterise the consumption of public as well as private goods, although this begs interesting questions about the geographic scale at which they might best be deployed to characterise neighbourhood expectations and community attitudes. We then consider the impacts of recent technologies that at the same time facilitate change in the way that individuals interact with their (virtual) communities while providing new ways of measuring, monitoring and hence generalising about such interactions. In conclusion we draw these different strands together in order to propose geodemographics that accommodate the unique virtual and conventional demographic characteristics that characterise different locations. We argue that the change dynamics of such indicators say much about social mobility and social interaction in Britain, and internationally.”