Why are lives disrupted, war waged and history rewritten - all by a line drawn on a map?
WHO IS KATE EDWARDS?
Geographer - Cartographer - Strategist - Writer - Global Lecturer
Founder and principal consultant of Geogrify LLC, a Seattle-based niche consultancy for content culturalization.
Formerly as Microsoft's first Geopolitical Strategist in the Geopolitical Strategy team she created and managed, Kate was responsible for protecting against political and cultural content risks across all MS products and locales and was integrally involved in the development of Encarta Encyclopedia and Encarta World Atlas (which later led to products such as MapPoint).
In the Microsoft Game Studios, she implemented a “geopolitical quality” review process and was personally responsible for identifying potential issues in all 1st party games between 1995 and 2005. Since leaving Microsoft, she has provided guidance on a wide range of geopolitical and cultural issues, including geopolitical consultation to map producers such as Google, Amazon and TomTom. She has also continued to work on a variety of major video game franchises. Kate is also the founder/chair of the Game Localization Special Interest Group in the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), the co-organizer of the Game Localization Summit at the annual Game Developers Conference, and a regular columnist for MultiLingual Computing magazine. In late 2012, she was appointed as the Executive Director of the IGDA. In October 2013, Fortune magazine named her as one of the "10 most powerful women" in the game industry and in December 2014 she was named by GamesIndustry.biz as one of their six People of the Year in the game industry.
Follow the expeditions of Geographer and Cartographer, Kate Edwards, who has been at the forefront of geopolitics and modern digital cartography with Microsoft, Google, TomTom and other companies, deep into contested border regions and remote disputed islands around the world, to better understand why lives are disrupted, fortunes lost and found, war waged, history written and rewritten - all by a line drawn on the map.
Why are certain places disputed?
What are the issues at stake?
Who really decides the path of a boundary?
What keeps disputes from being resolved?
What is the impact on the people and their land?
How does one compile and simplify these complexities into a map?
FALKLAND ISLANDS/ISLAS MALVINAS
GIBRALTA & SPANISH ENCLAVES IN MOROCCO
JAMMU & KASHMIR
PERSIAN / ARABIAN GULF & DISPUTED ISLANDS
SEA OF JAPAN / EAST SEA & DOK-DO / TAKE-SHIMA
SENKAKU / DIAOYU ISLANDS
SOUTH CHINA SEA
SOVEREIGNTY & EMERGING COUNTRIES
Countries have long fought political and military battles everyday to influence the course of a cartographer's line. But geopolitical disputes have become more than just military issues and lines on a map. In this technologically connected world, such disputes are used by governments to project their presence and reinterpret reality, to use digital maps and their global availability as a way to influence “public mindshare”, i.e., the public’s perception of both the dispute and the countries who lay claim. Geographer and Cartographer, Kate Edwards, travels the globe; Kashmir, Western Sahara, Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) and Cyprus among other locales to better understand: Why are certain places disputed and what's at stake? Who decides the path of a boundary? What forces influence the disputes and keep them from being resolved? What is the burden of responsibility and impact left behind on the people and their environment? What does it mean to compile and simplify these complexities onto a map, to change the very way that people perceive the world?
Geography remains a compelling topic when presented in a way that appeals to the consumers’ sense of adventure and exploration. Geography captivates the consumer, in popular media from children to adults,exposure to younger audiences, such as, Where in The World is Carmen Sandiego? and Dora the Explorer. Documentary programs have also proven to be effective, such as Michael Palin’s popular series of adventures such as Pole to Pole, Full Circle and Sahara. And in recent years, we’ve seen an explosion of location-based technologies such as smartphones enabled with GPS, which have greatly expanded the public’s engagement with spatial information. Location is quickly becoming the basis for initiating social interaction.
We travel with Kate in an “Expedition Style” as she investigates what it means for her to draw a line on the Earth, between people, cultures, governments, economics and politics. We are telling the story of her cartographic undertaking as well as the story of the regions visited. The audience will experience the current reality of unique, distant points of interest which are contested between countries in this modern age. Through Kate’s perspective they will learn the intriguing and likely unknown circumstances that have evolved into the current dispute; disputes which have, until now, only been represented through online mapping and virtual media at a distance. We experience the difficulties of her travel in these regions, such as dealing with local customs and government security.. We watch her walk a delicate balance eliciting interviews and a better understanding of the issue from government and military officials to the local individuals whose lives are directly impacted. In these volatile regions, she encounters impassioned opinions from both sides of the dispute focusing on the its impact to the cultures and countries involved, as well as the local region and abroad.
The episode opens as we fly in 3-dimensionally over a map graphic and end up on the ground, in the disputed region, the audience physically follows Kate into a local scene that plays out every day. The local impact of the dispute. Kate gives us a quick context of what is going on in the region. We listen to her conversations with locals as she tries to understand what is at stake for them, on both sides of the dispute.
Kate will start with an articulation of a curious economic or historical fact, cultural tension, etc. This setup will be presented visually through actual circumstances playing out on the ground, such as fishermen and their families livelihoods threatened by how the dispute resolved in a boundary that may exclude them from their traditional fishing grounds in a the contest of a more protracted dispute over fisheries resources between countries. This setup will be the main thread of the story that is told for the episode and help underscore the more pertinent aspect of the specific dispute.
The Experts and Regional Proponents
Each episode then cuts to a geopolitical expert, such as professor Klaus Dodds (based in London, and whom has a relationship with the production), and other various other experts (such as those found via the International Boundaries Research Unit in Durham, UK) and/or people locally related to the dispute, who would relish the opportunity to speak to their country’s viewpoint. Commentary from the experts will occur throughout the series, giving a foundation to Kate’s discoveries as she makes her way through the region.
We continue to follow Kate throughout the region, talking candidly with government officials, military, academics and local people in the region to gain insight Into the decisions, experience, mind, and the dynamics that impact the dispute.
The Map in Flux
Throughout her expedition the audience will be brought back to the map of the region following her route and a graphic illustration of what she is describing on the ground. She will address the specific problem(s) around the cartographic representation of each specific dispute and how this directly impacts decisions around business, media and technology. The episodes will leverage various maps to show the differences between map representations of the same disputed area and emphasize the cartographic challenge of trying to show the dispute. For example, to demonstrate the use of “Sea of Japan” versus “East Sea”, maps from Japan and Korea will be presented, as well as how various cartographic publishers have handled the issue (some well and some not so well).
Conclusion and Insight
As we near the conclusion of the episode, while still on the ground in the region, Kate draws together what she has uncovered in the region, regarding the dispute and how it has been represented on the map. She will offer up insights, ask lingering, hypothetical questions, and tie together the personal threads of the story, without making overt statements favoring one side or another – that’s for the audience to ponder. She will offer some insights into the complex issues, and perhaps even make suggestions as to how the dispute could be resolved and/or somehow moved forward.