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Crowdsourcing and Participation in Cartography (G572 Guest Lecture)

Crowdsourcing and Participation in Cartography (G572 Guest Lecture)



This presentation was delivered in the UW-Madison Graphic Design for Cartography course (Geography 572) on November 21, 2013.

This presentation was delivered in the UW-Madison Graphic Design for Cartography course (Geography 572) on November 21, 2013.



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  • 2: Maps don’t make the world; the world makes the maps. <br />

Crowdsourcing and Participation in Cartography (G572 Guest Lecture) Crowdsourcing and Participation in Cartography (G572 Guest Lecture) Presentation Transcript

  • Crowdsourcing and Participation in Cartography Geography 572 Guest Lecture by Carl Sack cmsack@wisc.edu
  • I. Background: Critical Cartography Revisited • Critical Cartography: The study of maps from a position that examines the social contexts, underlying assumptions, accepted categories, and power dynamics of mapping (e.g. Harley, Crampton) • Critical GIS: Investigations of the mutual influences between GIS and society (e.g. Pickles, Kwan, Elwood) – How does our social context impact the way we create GIS, and how does GIS impact the way we view the world and society?
  • 1929: Surrealist Map of the World (Variétés Magazine, Brussels)
  • World population cartogram (Mark Newman, University of Michigan, 2009)
  • Some propositions: 1. Maps are expressions of innate human spatial capabilities. Everybody can make maps. 2. Maps embed knowledge that is socially constructed. 3. Maps are political. They represent and reinforce power relationships. 4. Official maps support the interests of capital and/or the state. 5. Participatory maps may be used to challenge those interests with other interests.
  • II. Crowdsourced Geographic Information • Web 2.0: A set of technologies extending the World Wide Web to enable user-generated content and greater interactivity (two-way information relationship). – Examples: blogs, wikis, YouTube, social media. • GeoWeb: (i.e., Geospatial Web) Web components designed for the creating, analyzing, and sharing of geographic data – Examples: web maps, cloud-based GIS, CGI – Coined in Jon Udell, 2005: "Annotating the Planet with Google Maps." InfoWorld 27(10).
  • Now (2013): Then (2006):
  • • Crowdsourcing: “The way that large numbers of distributed people can work on the same project in a very powerful manner, creating something where the whole is more than the sum of its parts" (Crampton 2010). – Archetype: Wikipedia • Crowdsourced Geographic Information (CGI): “The widespread engagement of large numbers of private citizens, often with little in the way of formal qualifications, in the creation of geographic information, a function that for centuries has been reserved to official agencies" (Goodchild 2007). – aka Volunteered Geographic Information
  • Examples: Twitter posts
  • Examples: OpenStreetMap data
  • Examples: OpenStreetMap data
  • Examples: Geotagged photos
  • Examples: Unvolunteered Geographic Information? “The NSA may also be engaging in ‘geographic targeting,’ in which they listen in on communications between the United States and a particular foreign country or region” (American Civil Liberties Union, 2013) NSA Boundless Informant data collection visualization (Wikipedia)
  • “Distinguishing volunteered from contributed [geographic information] along ethical lines signals important differences in the processes of acquisition and the uses of crowdsourced data” (Harvey, 2012: 31). Opt-in (volunteered) Opt-out (contributed) Clarity and specifics Control over data collection Limited control over data reuse Vagueness and generalities Uncontrolled data collection No control over data reuse
  • Wikimap: A VGI-centered application
  • Wikimap: A VGI-centered application
  • The upshot: Powerful new tools are becoming ever-more available for public users with no cartography or web programming experience to make maps. BUT… Does this really lead to the democratization of mapping? Do computer-based and online maps empower certain (Western) ways of seeing the world? How do web maps represent and reinforce power relationships?
  • Digital Divides largely mirror the social divides in society-at-large – Gender, class, race, ethnicity, nationality, global north/south
  • So how can web maps lead to empowerment of the disempowered?
  • III. Participatory Mapping and GIS Participatory: Practices that engage and rely upon the knowledge of people with no institutional training in the field of study – Focus usually on poor, underprivileged, and marginalized peoples – Outside facilitators catalyze (but do not control) democratic, communitybased investigation, analysis, and planning
  • • Participatory mapping: the use of maps in a community-based decision-making process – Emerged from Participatory Rural Appraisal, “a family of approaches and methods to enable rural people to share, enhance, and analyze their knowledge of life and conditions, to plan and to act." (Chambers, 1994) – Key principles: • Transparency • Inclusion • Local Control
  • Related terms: • Counter-mapping: the use of maps to contest existing power relationships, particularly those involving private capital or the state – i.e, “Map or be mapped” – "If you were entirely cynical, you could view the appropriation of mapping from common understanding as just another police action designed to assist the process of homogenizing 5,000 human cultures into one malleable and docile market." (Aberley, 1993: 2) • Indigenous mapping: the use of maps by Indigenous peoples to defend, reclaim, or assert tenure over territory, knowledge, and resources
  • Methods: Ground maps
  • Methods: Sketch maps
  • Methods: 3-dimensional modeling (P3DM)
  • Methods: Scale mapping, GPS mapping Sipaliwini men use GPS to define their ancestral territory in Suriname (Amazon Conservation Team)
  • Methods: Participatory (Public Participation) GIS Flood hazard mapping workshop in Guwahati, India (Stefan Kienberger)
  • Methods: Online Participatory Mapping Bad River Watershed Wikimap www.badrivermap.org Username: uw_cart Password: maps
  • IV: Online Participatory Mapping • Wikimap: (also) An Online Participatory Mapping application • Key questions about wikimaps: – How are wikimaps being used? – When is a wikimap advantageous over other mapping technologies? – How can wikimaps include qualitative data types that represent multiple epistemologies? – What are the implications of differences in wikimap scale and domain? – How should access and submission control be implemented? – Who ultimately retains power over a wikimap?
  • Bad River Watershed Wikimap: • Purpose: Empower the views of local residents in land use decisions by presenting local place knowledge and landscape values Landscape Values: the symbolic meanings and instrumental uses that people associate with certain places Motivation: iron mining, “jobs vs. environment”
  • Bad River Watershed Wikimap: • Process: User-Centered Design – An iterative design process that involves feedback from end-users throughout the application’s development
  • Bad River Watershed Wikimap: • Findings—Needs Assessment: – Interest in wikimap to convey scientific, narrative, and informational knowledge forms. – Digital divide between rural areas (most of watershed) and cities – Information needed limits to maintain respectful dialog and protect endangered species and sacred sites
  • Bad River Watershed Wikimap: • Findings—Development and testing: – Maintaining regular communication is hard! – Qualitative usability evaluation is necessary to solve problems before release – User-centered design works!
  • Bad River Watershed Wikimap: • Findings—Evaluation: – 50+ users – Map used mostly for map reading and information seeking; only 13% contribution rate – Improved understanding of places in the watershed, but not landscape values
  • Bad River Watershed Wikimap: • Questions for Future Research – Is it democratic to have a small minority of users volunteering information? • OSM: 30% contribution rate – How can the contribution rate be increased to create a two-way map-facilitated conversation? – Who really are the users? Are they representing the range of voices from the area? – What are more effective ways to present landscape values on a map? – Can a wikimap be a useful tool for challenging the dominant interests of capital and/or the state? Can it set the people free?
  • Thank you! References & recommended: • • • • • • • • Aberley, D. (Ed.), 1993. Boundaries of Home: Mapping for Local Empowerment, The New Catalyst Bioregional Series. New Society Publishers, Philadelphia. Chambers, R., 1994. The Origins and Practice of Participatory Rural Appraisal. World Development 22, 953–969. Corbett, J., 2009. Good practices in participatory mapping: A review prepared for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). International Fund for Agricultural Development, Rome, Italy. Crampton, J., 2010. Mapping: A Critical Introduction to Cartography and GIS. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, UK. Elwood, S., 2008. Volunteered geographic information: future research directions motivated by critical, participatory, and feminist GIS. GeoJournal 72, 173–183. Freire, P., 2000. Pedagogy of the oppressed, 30th anniversary ed. ed. Continuum, New York. Goodchild, M.F., 2007. Citizens as sensors: the world of volunteered geography. GeoJournal 69, 211–221. Harvey, F., 2012. To Volunteer or to Contribute Locational Information? Towards Truth in Labeling for Crowdsourced Geographic Information, in: Crowdsourcing Geographic Knowledge Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) in Theory and Practice. Springer, pp. 31–42.