Sociotechnical Change: Tracing Flows, Languages, and Stakes Across Diverse Cases| From AAA TripTik to Google: Maps as Sites of Sociotechnical Change

So Yun Ahn


From the American Automobile Association’s (AAA) TripTik to Google Maps, mapping technology changed tremendously from applying a highlighter on a dozen papers to interactive mobile digital maps. Along with the technological change from analog to digital, the main organization that makes and distributes navigational maps has also changed from a nonprofit automobile organization to a for-profit tech company. This article scrutinizes how these changes in the sociotechnical infrastructure of mapmaking are reflected in the maps we use. First, I explain how AAA’s TripTiks were made and distributed in the 20th century and compare it with the operation of Google Maps. Next, I follow the route from Los Angeles, California, to Battle Creek, Michigan, on a 1949 TripTik and on Google Maps, attending to their differences. This journey reveals that despite the convenience and advanced technology, Google Maps deliberately ignores the core value of AAA’s maps: making a trip an enjoyable process of learning.


American Automobile Association (AAA), TripTik, Google Maps, sociotechnical change, data and algorithms, platforms

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