Counter-maps to Counter Harassment

One person or another uses maps every single day; from using Google Maps to find your way from A to B or just observing where a particular country or suburb is. Maps have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years, and recently the use of maps are expanding resulting in a discovery of new opportunities and ways to map things. This is recognised as counter-mapping.

Counter-mapping is a mapping process that challenges the dominant perspective of a place, space, or people. Counter-mapping is often created through collaborative community processes, characterised by a bottom-up approach, and is also another method of protest. It emerged as a response and resistance to traditional forms of mapping that are seen as being hierarchical, authoritarian, produced only by professionals, technocrats, or those with access to technology, funding or other resources.

tumblr_ne6dr5kabb1t0jtguo1_500In 2005, seven New York City residents (four women and three men) founded an organisation called ‘Hollaback’ after a well-publicised occurrence of street harassment prompted them to discuss their own encounters. Hollaback is a movement to end street harassment powers by a network of local activists around the world. Their mission is to work together to gain a better understanding of street harassment, spark public conversations and to develop innovative strategies to ensure equal access to public spaces. This movement reinvented the use of maps by allowing every day citizens to expose their harassers via photos and posts by documenting them on a map of where the incident occurred.

This counter-mapping style has been extremely successful in creating awareness and aiming to reduce the level of street harassment. On the maps, different coloured tags are used to symbolise areas that is known to have a high rate of street harassment. This has been so advantageous, that android and IPhone apps have been developed, which allows individuals to access live updates of information in regards to street harassment and has a live view of the maps where the harassment has taken place geographically.

Since 2011, Hollaback has trained over 300 leaders in 79 cities, 26 countries and 14 different languages to be leaders in their communities, and in the global movement to combat street harassment. This movement has highlighted the new geographical ways of counter-mapping and how it can create awareness at a global level.

tumblr_mzckxjJPFP1s22ldko1_1280Another counter-mapping example is Harassmap, which is similar to Hollaback, but based in Egypt. Harassmap has been created with the objective to end the social acceptability of sexual harassment. The Harassmap works in a similar way to Hollaback, where an individual who has been sexually harassed can document it on a map, it is then revealed as a number in a red dot regarding to how many people have been harassed in that location, and then if the red dot is clicked, a full report of harassments is revealed.


Counter-mapping is extremely important in today’s society. As demonstrated in the two case studies of Hollaback and Harassmap, it can be seen clearly how counter-mapping has expanded the idea of mapping and has provided it with new direction and opportunities.

References:, (2015). خريطة التحرش | معأ ﻹنهاء القبول المجتمعي لجريمة التحرش واﻹعتداء الجنسي في مصر. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Apr. 2015]., (2015). Counter-Mapping – History of Thought. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Apr. 2015]., (2015). Hollaback! You have the power to end street harassment. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Apr. 2015].

YouTube, (2015). Game Changer: Emily May, Harassment Avenger. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Apr. 2015].

.–. .- .-. .- .-.. .-.. . .-.. … / -… . – .– . . -. / – …. . / – . .-.. . –. .-. .- .–. …. / .- -. -.. / .. -. – . .-. -. . –

Unless you are 100 years old, you probably couldn’t read the title of this blog post. Believe it or not, this is how people used to send messages to each other in the 18th and 19th century.

(p.s, the title translates to “parallels between the telegraph and Internet”)


Both the Internet and telegraph are pieces of technology that have had an extraordinary impact of every day life. They have provided individuals with endless amounts of opportunities and most importantly, allowed us to communicate with each other no matter how far apart.

Samuel Morse created the first electronic telegraph in 1837 and was first used by the public in 1844. The invention of the telegraph meant that communication could cross borders and different parts of the world in minutes. The telegraph was so revolutionary at the time, as prior to the invention, it would take days or even weeks to send a message. Many would spread information via the newspaper or letters sent in the mail, and by the time they were received, it was already old news. The telegraph totally changed the ways of communication; it allowed information to almost be delivered instantly compared to a matter of days. The ability to send messages and information faster ultimately brought the world together.

tumblr_nmhbtuuhqi1sonf30o1_400 The telegraph worked by transmitting electrical signals over a wire laid between stations. Samuel Morse developed a code (Morse code) that assigned a set of dots and dashes to each letter of the English alphabet. The single circuit system required the operator to push down on the key to complete the electric circuit of the battery. The receiver didn’t receive a normal message consisting of letters and number, but a series of dots and dashes, known as the Morse code. Although the telegraph was a great way to send messages to a single receiver, it had difficulties sending multiple messages to different locations at the same time.


And then came the Internet. Similar to the telegraph, there was a long process to end up with the final product. Development of the Internet started in the early 1960’s up until 1991. The impact the introduction of the Internet had on society was very similar to what the Telegraph did earlier – created a more diverse way to communicate. The Internet had more technological advances; it allowed us to send lots of messages to lots of people at the same time. Information became more accessible and simpler to use, and various social media sites formed resulting in an increase of communication.

Although the telegraph and Internet were made years and years apart, there are so many parallels between the two. The main parallel between the telegraph and Internet was increased monopolies, the telegraph allowed for the establishment of the Western Union, faster transport of people, rail system for the movement f goods; and the Internet guided the way for its Internet Explorer and Microsoft. Another parallel between the two was fear. It unknown what the development of Internet and the Telegraph would do to the loosening of private information.

There are so many more similarities between the telegraph and Internet that I could talk about, but unfortunately I would go 10 times over my word limit. Although there is a massive difference in time between the telegraph and Internet, the vast impact they had on communication was revolutionary.


References:, (2015). Ten parallels between the telegraph and the Internet in international politics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Apr. 2015].

Evans, N 2015, ‘Global Village, Global Empire’, lecture notes, BCM232, University of Wollongong, delivered 10 March 2015.

McLuhan, M 1964, Understanding Media, McGraw Hill, New York

Message, F. (2015). Morse Code & the Telegraph – Inventions – [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Apr. 2015]., (2015). Morse Code Translator. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Apr. 2015].

The Great Firewall of China

The_Great_Firewall The Great Wall of China was built to protect China from invaders for over 2,000 years. Since then, China has also built another wall, a firewall, which can be known as ‘The Great Firewall of China”. This is the biggest digital boundary in the whole world.

“The Great Firewall of China” is a term commonly used amongst the international and Chinese media in relation to the Chinese governments Internet censorship regulations. China has over 500 million users online and a quarter of the world’s social network users live under the firewall. The huge amounts of ‘Netizens’ in China made the Chinese Government feel the need to censor and control their citizens. The firewall was built not only to protect the Chinese regime from overseas and universal values, but also to prevent China’s own population to access the global free Internet.

“The Great Wall was originally constructed to keep the “barbarians” out of China. Similarly, the Great Firewall metaphor signifies China’s desire to block “undesirable” content from reaching the People’s Republic”


Social media has played a massive role in building the Great Firewall of China. In Michael Anti’s Ted Talk, he explained that the Chinese government wanted access to all social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. However, China was unable to do so as most mainstream social media platforms were created in America. This was a problem for the Chinese government, as since they were American sites, China couldn’t gain access to the information they needed, including citizens’ personal details. Therefore, the government of China decided to block all popular social media platforms and created their own versions. The Chinese government is now able to monitor and censor the majority of their citizens’ social media accounts, due to China creating these platforms themselves.

So realistically there are two Internets: The Internet and the ‘Chinanet’. Here are a list of China’s main social media platforms and what they have replaced:

Although, the government is still allowing Chinese Internet users to access the ‘new’ social media sites, censorship can be seen as being too strict for Chinese users. As it is so strict, citizens using the ‘Chinanet’ have resorted to software that can get through the firewall in order to access original sites that have been blocked by the Chinese government.

In 2008, the huge earthquake in Wenchuang, China happened. This earthquake resulted in many deaths, particularly children as this earthquake occurred during school time. Due to the one child policy in China, many families lost their only child and ultimately a whole generation of their family. Because of this, citizens started to protest and wanting justice. Photos and videos of the protest went viral through all Internet and social media platforms both inside and outside of China. The government couldn’t control this so they decided to shut down the citizen journalists.

Ultimately, the role of social media behind the Great Firewall of China is to allow Chinese citizens to access social media platforms whilst the government being able to monitor what is being said and done by their citizens. But how long will the Chinese government remain in control over the Great Firewall of China?


Ted-Ed 2012, How social media can make history- Clay Shirky, video, YouTube, 16 November, viewed 10 March 2015, <;

Ted 2012, Michael Anti: Behind the Great Firewall of China, video, YouTube, 30 June, viewed 11 March 2015, <;

Tsui, L, 2007, ‘An Inadequate Metaphor: The Great Firewall and Chinese Internet Censorship’, Global Dialogue, vol. 9.1/2, pp.60-68