Our ACME paper is finally published
After all the years of waiting
Johnson, P. A., Corbett, J., Gore, C., Robinson, P. Allen, P., & Sieber, R.E. 2015. A Web of Expectations: Evolving Relationships in Community Participatory Geoweb Projects. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies 14(3): 791-826.
New forms of participatory online geospatial technology have the potential to support citizen engagement in governance and community development. The mechanisms of this contribution have predominantly been cast in the literature as ‘citizens as sensors’, with individuals acting as a distributed network, feeding ac a demics or government with data. To counter this dominant perspe ctive, we describe our shared experiences with the development of three community - based Geospatial Web 2.0 (Geoweb) projects, where community organizations were engaged as partners, with the general aim to bring about social change in their communities thr ough technology development and implementation. Developing Geoweb tools with community organizations was a process that saw significant evolution of pr o ject expectations and relationships. As Geoweb tool development encountered the realities of technologic al development and implementation in a community context, this served to reduce organizational enthusiasm and support for projects as a whole. We question the power dynamics at play between university researchers and org a nizations, including project financ ing, both during development and in the long term. How researchers managed, or perpetuated, many of the popular myths of the Geoweb, namely that it is inexpensive and easy to use (thought not to build, pe r haps) impacted the success of each project and the sustainability of relationships between researcher and organization. Ultimately, this research shows the contin u ing gap between the promise of online geospatial technology, and the realities of its implementation at the community level.