September 22nd, 2014
Advancements in GIScience and associated technologies have enabled researchers to ask more original and complex questions. In “Emergent Group Level Navigation: An Agent-Based Evaluation of Movement Patterns in a Folivorous Primate”, the researchers use agents to simulate the foraging behaviour of red colobus monkeys. The intersection of GIS with other disciplines not only highlights its role as a tool, but also advances the discipline of GIScience. It encourages the development of questions/problems that are unique to GIS, such as: How do you model topologies and proximity, while being mindful of issues of scale?
While models often don’t fully capture the complexity of reality, the development of agents to represent different hypotheses of primate foraging behavior deepens, presents an exciting way to test the validity of various theories.
More generally, artificial life geospatial agents allow us to better characterize interactions among people and their environments. The predictive nature of simulations provides many opportunities to improve scientific understanding (e.g of primate foraging behaviour) and design efficiency (e.g modeling people response during natural disasters to better plan for evacuations/emergency response). But can’t the modeling human behaviours also be used as a tool for tacit control?
When it comes to the developments of agents, are there any ethical considerations; and if so, what are they?
The growth of GIScience allows use to do incredibly interesting and innovative things, pushing the envelop of research in a variety of disciplines; but has the discussion around the social and ethical implications of GIScience kept paste with the development of the field?
September 22nd, 2014
Bonnell et al (2013) reports the modeling of the movement of the red colobus monkey in Uganda using the following factors: memory type (Euclidian or landmark based), memory retention and social rule. The use of GIScience in this project is novel and exciting: it shows the importance and the magnitude of the field. Most subjects have a spatial component, for which GIScience could be used.
However, I had a few questions about the research project and the ensuing article. Why were the monkeys only observed from 8AM to 1PM? Are they inactive in the afternoon? If there were a logical explanation for choosing this time slot, it would have been worthwhile to include it in the article. If not, it seems plausible that monkeys might act differently in the afternoon and that finding out if they do would be useful for the research. It would also have been interesting to add less predictable factors to the model, such as weather, natural disasters, human activity, etc.
Moreover, I’ve always felt it was impossible to prove or disprove theories on animals, as we will never know what they are thinking, and why. Would it be possible to use this kind on model on humans? I agree with Othello that by modeling human behaviour, it would be possible to get the subject’s opinion on the research’s findings. It would be interesting to model the movements of students on a university campus, or in places where people act most like primates: bars.
September 22nd, 2014
This article review other articles and provide a brief definition on terms that are quite difficult to find, even in Google, such as ‘Artificial Life Geospatial Agents’ (ALGA) representing a computer model that may be independent programming code interacting with other code or a single piece of software itself that use computational models to imitate an individual’s behavioral responses to an external stimuli. It is a crucial tool to model interactions and behaviors between humans, animals and the natural environment.
Unlike ALGA, ‘Software Geospatial Agents’(SGA) is used to manage information and making decisions in hardware and software environment, and it is designed to manage geographically explicit information, such as a geographic coordinate, on behalf of an entity, which can be a person, a software or even hardware.
These agents share couple of common points. For instance, they are both a predominant type of agents in GIScience and they both perceive and respond rationally to new situations to new situations and their environment In addition, they are enable to handle the unique qualities of geospatial data as well.
This article demonstrates further explanations and examples to demonstrate the minimum requirements for a piece of software code to be considered as an “agent” in the AI literature and then, the authors question the existence a Geospatial Agent and underline its importance to both ALGA and SGA. They argue that as much as AI requires spatial information, without it, AI is likely to fail. It sounded quite convincing and all until they mentioned how geographic coordinates as a part of IP specifications could benefit the SGA and Internet community…my skeptical ego just woke up and oh well…Nonetheless of my regard in that specific example, this article in overall did a good job in reviewing other agents-related articles and explaining the roles and definitions of the intelligent agents and of course underlined the uniqueness and importance of geospatial agents that are playing and will be playing in the future by handling geospatial data, which makes it so unique and valuable.
It required me to re-re-re-read this article over and over because the terminology and concept was very unfamiliar and uneasy for me, but it was still quite interesting and always good to learn new terminologies…sometimes…
September 22nd, 2014
This article made me think. For one, it was a slow read – no details were spared in the complicated explanation of the science behind the research. As an Arts major, I was seriously intimidated and I’m still not sure I grasp the methodology behind the findings. Secondly (and more importantly), it made me consider applications of GIS outside of mapping. I know, I know, it’s like every single week my mind is being blown by how vast the field of GIScience is – but it’s the truth. Looking at the behavioural responses of primates (in the research, they are using simulated primates) to stimuli was pretty cool if I do say so myself. Looking at where they go, how they go, and who they go with to get resources was something I had never considered as being applicable to GIS. I’m still getting over the fact that psychology/memory is a factor in mapping now (I’m referencing to the ‘social rules’ and how they impact the travel patterns of a group). Its starting to make me think that there are pretty much endless applications of this tool (or science – I am still waiting to be persuaded). For instance, why can’t we use GIS to save those little polar bears I mentioned last week? We could look at behavioural patterns and add it to any spatial data that we already have. Then, look at the response to stimuli, such as the glaciers and sea ice being obliterated by global warming. Of course I’m over simplifying but you get the point. GIS is essentially engulfing every field that I thought was mutually exclusive from it and I’m not sure how I like it.
Until next time,
September 22nd, 2014
Bonnell et al.’s research paper deals with agent based modeling in relation to the feeding and movement patterns of Red Colobus monkeys. They tested for the effects of memory type, memory retention and social order within the group on their movement patterns. From a G.I.Science perspective, this article is interesting due to the fact that the authors used agent based modeling in order to get a better understanding of monkey behavior. By doing research such as this, they help to further expand the field of G.I.Science through the novel use of agent based modeling methods. Further development of A.B.M. (and specifically geospatial agents) could include such things as developing better models that provide more flexibility for individual agent choice, with obvious benefits to the field of G.I.Science.
What I found interesting was the potential that existed for visualizing the geographic data that was produced through the agent-based evaluation of the monkeys. Given that geography is inherently spatial, being able to visualize complex data (such as monkey movement patterns) would enable a better understanding of the processes at work. This visualization could also help with introducing A.B.M. to a wider audience and therefore help expand public participation of G.I.Science.
Tying this article in with the “Geospatial Agents, Agents Everywhere…” article, it is clear that the authors used Artificial Life Geospatial Units as the agents which they based the Red Colobus monkeys off of. It is also evident that the agents used in the study were geospatial in nature, not merely A.I. agents.
September 22nd, 2014
Bonnell et al. (2013) Emergent Group Level Navigation: An Agent-Based Evaluation of Movement Patterns in a Folivorous Primate
In an intriguing compilation of GIS, ecology, and primatology, Bonnell et al. (2013) seek to model the complex foraging behaviour of the red colobus monkey in order to uncover patterns of spatial memory. The agent-based modeling used in this study exemplifies one of the cutting edge applications of GIS technologies – predictive science.
This is my first academic encounter with spatial memory but the concept encompasses something that I have often thought about i.e. how people (and animals) navigate the world around them. In this article, social rules were the primary factor in determining step length – different societies behaved differently. It would be interesting to research how spatial memory in human societies differs between age groups, cultures, urban-rural settings, etc. as I suspect that they may differ greatly. It also makes me wonder how GIS technologies such as Google Maps have altered spatial memory in humans.
There were a few omissions made in this study, although I suspect these were due to the issue of complexity. Firstly, by limiting the foraging simulations to six months the researchers neglected the seasonal variability of resources. Developing this component of modeling could identify how animal movements and feeding habits change throughout the year. Secondly, it would be interesting to add the component of competition into the simulation to account for rival groups, interspecies relationships, and human activity. Thirdly, as colobus monkeys are a tree-dwelling species, it would be interesting to see if the addition of a z-axis would affect the results of the simulation (e.g. would movement more closely resemble Euclidean memory, would this affect group safety). Keep in mind that these recommendations come from someone without a background in computer modeling, primate behavioural studies, or ecology, so I am uncertain as to what extent any of the abovementioned components could be added to the simulation or if they would in fact enhance the study in any measurable way.
September 22nd, 2014
This is quite an interesting article, as the authors attempted to simulate a system involving the behaviour of primates and the struggle for both food and safety, both of which work against each other. The model was complex and involved many variables and considerations. I appreciated the complexity of the model as I recently constructed a model involving the Green Monkey in Barbados. As an invasive specie, the goal was to find a reasonable technique to stabilize the population explosion before the system and the resources on the island reached the carrying capacity. What I appreciated about this article is that the authors go a step further and manage to display their primate model spatially, something that would have greatly improved the accuracy and interest of my model.
This type of model is fascinating, as so much of the general public would be interested to know how something like this works. This is something that you could see on the Discovery Channel, or National Geographic and would easily attract viewers. People are interested in science and animals and they love to see scientists study them. Thus is a great way to introduce such technology to the general public, and perhaps influence people to take an interest in GIScience.
As mentioned in the article, there is so much potential with GIScience and its ever expanding capabilities. Using GIScience and coupling it with a model similar to what was constructed in the article, a better understanding of animal behavior and movement could be established in the scientific community. It could potentially be used to allow humans to better understand and avoid human-animal interaction, eliminating many problems. GIScience is proving more and more to be an incredibly valuable discipline, and the possibilities of application appear limitless.
September 21st, 2014
Applications of GIScience are widespread, this is in part due to the fact that every event or process, involving objects or beings has a spatial element in the storyline. Emergent Group Level Navigation: An Agent Based Evaluation of Movement Patterns in a Folivorous Primate (Bonnell et al., 2013) uses GIS to model the movements of primates will the goal of gaining a better understanding of their movement strategy as they forage for food. This is achieved by comparing 12 combinations of collective behaviour against observed moments tracked in the field. Therein demonstrating the power of GIS to not only represent reality, but also simulate it – and in this case bringing the two together.
While an innovative use of technology, I feel there is much more work to be done to further such research. As all models can be defined as ‘a [mere] substitute for a real system’ I’d be cautious in criticizing the small pool of strategy hypothesis presented as too simplistic. I applaud the researchers’ audacious attempt to model such a complex system, living creatures are wildly unpredictable. I would argue that modeling human movements and interactions would offer more insight as most of us carry tracking devices (smart phones) and so many of our transactions feeding or otherwise can be tracked electronically and spatially. The added benefit would be in that one could supplement the research by interviewing a sample of those tracked – we can’t quite talk to monkeys just yet.
I ask: “Why we need to understand monkey movements?” The paper does however point to how such a comprehension sheds light on the cognitive functions of the observed agents, telling us much about how their memory works. This alone leaves this project as one of the most creative uses of GIS. 10/10!
September 20th, 2014
The authors modeled the decision-making process in foraging of red colobus monkeys in Kibale National Park, Uganda, and then tested it against their observed data to test the effect of spatial memory type (Euclidean or landmark-based), memory retention (low, medium, or high), and social group type (democratic/independent or leader) on the patterns of movement of the primate groups, and see which model fit the colobus monkeys best. Several environmental, group behavioral, and primate capabilities variables were taken into account. The authors seemed to have thought about everything. A fascinating part of the model was that the authors simulated that grouping in primates increased safety in individuals by mitigating predation, but also increased food competition. The monkeys in the model even had a knowledge of “grow back rate”: the rate at which vegetation in their feeding sites grow back after they have left them.
Although predation was included indirectly (by modeling that grouping in primates increased safety by mitigating predation), I wonder why predation was not included directly in the model. It seems that predation is a crucial factor to consider in modeling the displacement of monkeys and testing the effect of spatial memory type, memory retention, and social group type. Maybe the colobus monkeys remembered that there was predation in a feeding area, and this could have affected the patterns of movement, type, or size of the group. Another factor that could have been modeled, although brought up towards the end of the article, is group demographics. It was found that the leader-led group with a landmark-based memory and low memory retention best fit the observed red colobus monkey data. However, a group that is composed of an older population might function with a democratic (independent) social group type, while a group composed of an younger population might function with a leader-led social group type. In view of that, it would be an interesting experiment to include demographics in the model.
September 15th, 2014
This article is based on several years of studies and multiple research project that examined through the social change, capacity of PGeoweb to support citizen science, participating in decision-making, etc. This project was conducted my numerous researchers and yet the paper seems to be very biased towards the pro-Geoweb only. Since the very first time I have learned about the VGI, I have always wondered about the issue of accuracy and standard related issue and when I started to read this paper, I kind of hoped that some sort of solution or any suggestion concerning those issues would be mentioned, but it did not.. In addition, when a public participation and/or crowdsourcing issues are concerned, whether web based or not, there used to be always some kind of manipulation issues that arise as well and nowadays, when cyber security is becoming more and more serious social problem, simply encouraging the public participation using web application without mentioning such issue doesn’t seem very convincing to me. Or perhaps I am just being way too skeptical about this…
September 15th, 2014
Reading “Doing Public Participation on the Geospatial Web” made me wonder who is posting on the Internet and what we know about them. In the case of the Okanagan Fire map, some participants weren’t sharing their experiences online because they felt they didn’t have the authority to do so. This challenges the common idea that the anonymity of online forums allows people to lose their inhibitions. It is in fact the “reach and durability” of the platform that stopped them from contributing. Does this imply that the contributors have actual knowledge or expertise? It would certainly be interesting to see if those who speak up in real life are also those who feel entitled to write their opinions online, and vice versa, and then compare their qualifications.
Moreover, more weight or importance was awarded to posts with “likes” or “thumbs ups”. Who is behind these popular views, and are they trustworthy? A quick look at the comments section of any online publication might make the reader reconsider the merits of democracy. I, for one, would not want to be led by any “top posters”.
Finally, the following argument on anonymity and accuracy gave me pause: “[a]nonymity also complicated questions of data accuracy since scientists examining results on nlnature wanted the identity of contributor x as a way to verify who was (in)correctly identifying species” (26). Are the scientists identifying the correct and incorrect entries, and then want to know the identity of the posters for statistical purposes? Or are the poster’s qualifications affecting the findings’ accuracy?
[One last note, vis-à-vis the spelling of the expression as viz-a-viz: am I missing a pun or is this an English interpretation of French?]
September 15th, 2014
“Doing Public Participation on the Geospatial Web” explores how the Geoweb has altered public participation. In particular, the layouts and algorithms of Geoweb applications have the power to structure and influence public engagement. Do these forms of engagement support democratic ideals, or do they lull us into complacency as freedoms erode? Filter bubbles applied to many online queries limit our exposure to different opinions and perspectives, reinforcing our own beliefs, and removing us from the broader discussion. In my opinion, the creation of these online ghettos of thought facilitates citizen two citizen dialogue among like minded people but has the potential to undercut the interaction of people with differing or opposing points of you from meaningfully engaging with one another. What’s more, anonymity removes accountability for what is shared on online fora and can hamper respectful dialogue among online contributors. The elitist attitudes that this can consolidate deeply undermine the inclusive nature of democracy.
Nevertheless, the Geobweb allows its user to stay ‘plugged in’. It provides a medium of expression for those that may not be comfortable in face-to-face discussions; the anonymity it provides can empower individuals who would otherwise stay disengaged.
Similar to high school civics classes, I think we need to teach and explain the implications of online engagement, outlining its obligations, rights and responsibilities. We need to upgrade to civics 2.0.
The influence of the Geoweb on public participation is complicated. It presents challenges and opportunities for democracy, but more research is needed to fully characterize it.
September 15th, 2014
“Trust becomes more difficult to build in digital space when participants are unknown to each other and crowdsourced contributions…”
The issue of trust was one of the issues raised by the author that I found most interesting in this weeks article. Trust is an essential element in any relationship and the author raises a good point about how trust is harder to build in virtual spaces. The lack of face-to-face connections is surely one of the most significant reasons for this but I also think that people are wary of anything online. I think this is especially true for older internet users.
To build trust in virtual space is something I imagine to be extremely difficult. I would be interested in seeing how various institutions have approached the idea of trust in virtual space. The issue is further complicated because not only must participants trust the institution they are communicating with but they must also trust other participants. Inter-participant trust is crucial because without it the information being shared will be seen to be illegitimate. For this reason I think the author is correct in their conclusion that “Geoweb-enabled participation can be the starting point but participation can be made more effective with both [traditional participation]”
September 15th, 2014
Doing Participation on the Geospatial Web
It is widely understood that the geospatial capabilities of Web 2.0 have reinvented the way people interact with the physical world. With user-generated input, Web 2.0 has transformed the way people choose where to shop, eat, and socialize through apps such as Yelp, Urbanspoon, and FourSquare. The authors of this article are curious about how the proliferation of place-based digital platforms will affect the domain of public participation, including civic engagement, public involvement, and volunteered geographic information i.e. the participatory Geoweb (PGeoweb).
The PGeoweb can improve public participation in many ways. These include increasing the number of participants, enhancing communication and record keeping, and connect individuals and groups in alignments that could not otherwise be forged. Central to these advancements in public participation vis-à-vis the PGeoweb is the role of anonymity. The authors mention the activity of women on social media during the Arab Spring as a primary example of how the anonymity of Web 2.0 technologies can be incorporated into public participation. Following this example, the PGeoweb could provide a layer of personal security so as to reveal and project the opinions of marginalized people. In some circumstances, virtual involvement may be the “superior participatory medium” (27).
Throughout the article, anonymity is largely portrayed as a positive development. The most oppositional comment made about anonymity is that it hinders the establishment of trust within a digital community. I believe that trust may be just the tip of the iceberg with respect to anonymity. How can one be accountable for one’s virtual actions? Anonymity also removes the human dimension from discourse. By reducing opposing views to profile names, I worry that people may be driven apart by online participation, particularly in cases of political tension. Hate becomes a mechanical procedure when there isn’t a human face looking back at you. While the PGeoweb has a lot to offer public participation, there are many more factors to consider before we celebrate.
September 15th, 2014
With the evolution of the Geoweb, or rather Web 2.0, different forms of participation from citizens have arisen, some vastly different from traditional methods. The definition of participation was vague to begin with, but with the advancements of the geoweb, this definition has become even more abstract. It allows for a much larger audience to be heard, but is this really the step that we want to take? I can see the argument from both sides. On one hand, giving so many people access to some form of media, or dataset, which allows them to participate and share their own data on the web results in more data that has ever been available. You would think that this should be a good thing, and that anything suspicious, or simply incorrect wouldn’t survive the criticism of the rest of the geoweb, however in most cases, this simply does not happen. Many non-experts allow such information to propagate under the false pretenses that they are in fact experts. This is where such access can be dangerous. If anybody has the ability to simply “participate”, they can influence others into seeing their view, story or data set in a sculpted viewpoint. Inadvertent or not, the geoweb allows anybody with the access to internet, and a medium such as social media to have a large effect on what kind of data propagates through the geoweb.
This kind of participation is unavoidable in the era that we live in, however traditional methods of participation should not be neglected as one would think that they would be more credible than any random self proclaimed “Joe” contributing via Facebook.
September 15th, 2014
This paper dealt with the nature of the Participatory Geoweb (PGeoweb) and its consequences on public participation. What I found thought-provoking in this article is how the authors examined the ways in which the PGeoweb can affect citizen-government interactions. It is noted that there was a “heterogenization of the role of the state as a convener”. This change of roles is interesting since traditionally the state holds the balance of power over its citizens. With the PGeoweb, having the ability for citizens to act as convener would shift some this balance of power away from the state. The authors do warn, however, of the government “checking the boxes” and not having two-way dialogue during participation. If that could be fixed, a more efficient ‘participation’ between citizen and state would be permitted.
In a similar vein to that above, the blurring of the lines between expert and non-expert is an important idea to elaborate upon. This change in traditional roles could be beneficial for less advantaged groups if the ability for them to have a more active role in participation is enabled. For example, local populations can utilize the PGeoweb for projects (ex. mapping territory or resources) from within the community, without the influence of other actors who might have conflicting interests (ex. mining companies). While the differences between experts and non-experts becomes muddled, the information provided must remain credible in order for the non-experts’ information to remain a growing part of the scientific community.
September 15th, 2014
This article discusses the influence of participation in online GIS (PGeoweb specifically) and how it can influence policy. My interest in the article stemmed from the author’s mention of how PGeoweb potential could be ‘oversold’ in regards to social change. The author seemed to phrase the argument in a way that made it seem as if people were under the impression that in order to ‘participate’ (a term not concretely defined in the article, which is ok – I find semantic arguments boring and pointless in papers) they simply had to add to the gathered information on the given platform. In other words, if they were helping add information to the Geoweb, they were doing their part in affecting social change. This is of course is false pretence, as the author so aptly points out. This got me thinking about those pesky little online petitions that are floating around my Facebook newsfeed. Of course I’m going to sense immediate gratification if I sign this petition to save those cute little polar bears – but is it really helping? In my interpretation of the article, the author was saying how distancing ourselves from the problem (i.e. through online participation) it was effectively downsizing our impact on social change. In other words, if I actually went to a forum or volunteered my time for those polar bears, wouldn’t that be more effective than me signing an online petition or adding a photo to an already immense database of information? Similarly, the author points out how some of the aesthetics of the Geoweb have an authoritative appearance which “could imply more importance to an individual’s contribution than is accurate”. This again, leads individuals into thinking they’ve done their part in social change when in fact they’ve really done nothing. It’s essentially the same gratification we get from harvesting crops in Farmville.
Oh the woes of the internet.
Until next time,
September 14th, 2014
The aim of the research done for this article was to study the extent to which the Participatory Geoweb (PGeoweb) could make purposeful contributions to the broader public participation processes. I think that a big issue in public participation in the Geoweb is the lack of trust. Some people would be reluctant to share their knowledge since they do not know if their sharing will influence policy and social change. For people to try to make a difference through PGeoweb, people need to believe they can make a difference through PGeoweb, and there is a great deal of skepticism concerning this topic. Therefore, there is definitely much more knowledge “out there” than what could be shared on the Geoweb. Moreover, some people might feel that their knowledge is not good enough as they are not experts in their field, and hence, knowledge is, again, not shared. On the other hand, some might recognize how it would be so easy for non-experts to claim expertise on the Geoweb and therefore discredit the Geoweb in their eyes, and again, not share their knowledge. All these examples stem from a lack of trust in the Geoweb, which I think, is what needs to be addressed. In the conclusion, the authors make a great point, which is that “[e]ffecting participation in the new medium demands a hybrid of physical and virtual activities to surmount barriers and connect to change”. I believe it would aid the lack of trust issue present in this context if Geoweb-based (virtual) activities were coupled with physical activities. The public would gain trust through the physical activities and then be comfortable with sharing knowledge through virtual activities.
As an aside, in the third and second paragraphs before the end of the article, the authors name five avenues to aid participation. It seems, however, that the third avenue is missing. Maybe it is a way to entice the public to find methods to facilitate effective public participation in a PGeoweb-context; they are open to suggestions.
September 14th, 2014
One of our greatest fears, both collectively and as individuals, is to be ignored and to not have our voices heard. With the advent of Web 2.0 we live in a day and age where the average citizen feels more empowered and better equipped to participate in the decision making processes that shapes their lives. The participatory Geoweb has brought a digital dimension to location-specific participation in public process – one that previously on existed solely in physical realm.
‘Doing Public Participation on the Geospatial Web’ is a sobering review of the intersection of participation and the Geoweb. By taking a step back and working through theories, then the realities we face this piece has quieted my overenthausaism and prompted me to more critically examine the PGeoweb. Have we placed too much trust in a flawed tool that won’t fix our problems effectively? I think we have, at the very least I have. Perhaps an illusion of participation is far more dangerous than none whatsoever.
It’s a beautiful thing that anyone, anywhere can make a contribution to online fora – but I would argue that more research is required to better understand the implications of this dramatic shift. Furthermore digital divides and inequities in access to the web must be considered. Though Web 2.0 has sped ahead, we cannot forget that we will always live in a physical world and social change will always have a physical core component. This research speaks volumes to the “is GIS a Science?” debate, showing that it really is.
September 8th, 2014
In this article where Goodchild reviews his own article 15 years later, he supports his own argument from his previous article about how GIScience would be used to research about GIS to improve the technology and research with GIS to exploit the technology in the advancement of science. Further, he underlines the huge impact of Internet to the use and evolution of GIS.
It feels like 15 years ago, in early 90′s when the distribution of Internet and the mobile technology were not as advanced as today, I wouldn’t be as positive about the idea of GIScience as today, since it would be almost impossible to see its usefulness or need of it to be considered as a ‘science’, not saying that one has to be necessarily very useful in our daily life to be part of a branch of science. However, one cannot deny the fact that the use of Internet, such as using based map pre-loaded by other industries, with GIS software has drastically changed and widened its potential.
Even if I am not fully convinced about GIScience yet, it seems like Goodchild does have very good points about his arguments, especially about its usage growth in diverse domains and Internet involvement that caused GIS to evolve much further.