Given that over 90% of the world’s goods have travelled by sea, anyone interested in ‘follow the thing’ research needs to have a detailed sense of the geographies of container shipping. This animated, interactive shipmap shows global commercial shipping movements (including but not limited to container shipping) in 2012. It’s awesome. It was shortlisted for the Global Editors Network Data Journalism Awards in 2016. Click the image to get to it. Click play and all is explained. Then experiment.
This post began as a contribution to a special issue of the journal ACME on the new ‘impact’ agenda in British Higher Education. Our shopping bags and ‘ladybugging’ activities seemed to fit this bill, although their ‘impact’ wasn’t measurable (and that was the point). In the end, another short piece on impact was written for the journal. We have revised that original paper to post here, and hope it may be interesting for readers who are keen to use our site and/or bags in their teaching and wider ‘shopping’ activities.
Update September 2016: sorry, we have no bags left to give away. They’ve all gone. If you have one, it’s a priceless collector’s item. If you see someone carrying one, please say hi.
“We need to develop forms of critique that inspire hauntings, feed feelings, come alive, leap out and grab us, … that are not just about vital materiality but are themselves vitally material” (Cook & Woodyer 2012 p.238).
This is the ship that brought our shopping bags from China (where they were made) to the UK (where we are located, and from where we send them to you!) in 2011.
The idea is that ‘shoppers’ do this over a period of weeks or months and send us the location (if you want to do this now, just paste its latitude and longitude into a comment on this post). We then pin – with a followthethings.com ladybird – each spotting on the map below and add your name as the spotter. Ian has started this off with a ladybird that shows the ship leaving the southern end of the Suez Canal.
Together, we can map it’s travels. What route does it use to get from here to there and back? Please check back…
You will notice that we have added an extra icon to the map: a ghostly sunken ladybird. These mark the locations of some container ships that have caught fire or sunk during the course of this followthethings.com project. Click these icons, see the wrecks and find out more about the dangers of container shipping.