Isaac’s Uber Article

Isaac’s (2014) article on Uber can certainly relate to our class discussions. Like Goodchild (2007) stated, spatially-aware technology like new smart phones have proliferated a series of location-based services, such as Uber. Moreover, Uber’s user-friendly applications allow amateurs to use Uber’s services, and also contribute to Uber’s services by classifying oneself as a contract worker. In a sense, Uber encourages ‘produsers.’ No longer does a taxi driver necessarily need to be trained to provide expert services, which is similar to how geospatial information does not necessarily need to be produced by experts. This highlights how the conceptualization of “expert” is being transformed through technological shifts. Now, whether or not this is a good or a bad situation is up for debate. Reflecting on our last week’s discussions, is it OK for large private corporations to change labour structures in a way that allows certain classes to benefit, while other classes perish, possibly from unemployment?

As GIScientists maybe it is important to consider whether geospatial information should be dictated by large Western corporations and their competitive advantages, or rather it should be dictated by a more distributed population. Like I discussed in my seminar, the divide exists; furthermore, Isaac questioned whether or not Uber and other TNCs are really democratizing the hierarchy that differentiates experts and non-experts. Therefore, as GIScientists, should our focus simply be on the technological improvements of software and hardware to enable certain sharing economy applications to be prodused by a wider audience, or should our focus be on societal improvements to allow a wider audience to contribute to big data? Maybe both? It is important to be aware that the former reinforces power structures because there is still a reliance on certain experts isolating technological complexities from citizens, while the latter may be too difficult to accomplish.


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