Thoughts on “Theorizing with GIS: a tool for critical geographies”

November 25th, 2019

The central argument of this paper is that quantitative and qualitative methods should be seen in terms of a continuum instead of as two separate toolboxes in conducting GIS research. I agree with this argument and I think that there is no clear boundary between quantitative and qualitative research. Most of the time in research we see that even though the method applied is quantitative, the problem it asks is inherently qualitative, and qualitative research also often contains quantitative components. This is shown in some AI research such as natural language processing. The tool itself is quantitative whereas the inferences it makes or the problems it solves are qualitative. In this sense, should there even be a line to distinguish whether or not the research is quantitative or qualitative?

I also noticed that even though this paper discusses a lot about the opportunities of qualitative research in GIS, it is still calling GIS a “tool” instead of a “science”, which reminds me of a lot id discussion in the class. This is kind of conflicting because the points the author made about how we research can be conducted surround GIS makes GIS a science instead of a tool. So I guess the title should be “GIScience for critical geographies”.

Thoughts on critical GIS

November 25th, 2019

This article started by bring out two methods that are widely used in GIScience related researches: qualitative methods and quantitative methods. There is one sentence that I think is very interesting: “Geographers keep equating quantitative methods with advanced statistical and spatial analysis, and, therefore, scientific analysis and qualitative methods with ‘a mix of coffee room discourse, vendor sales hype, informal social interviews with one or two people, and an active imagination’”. Actually, this is very similar to what I think about these two methods as a geographer before reading this article. The part I exposed to GIScience are mostly quantitative, so I what I learned in my undergrad for GIScience techniques are very statistical and mathematical. This has made be quite confused for a while. But I think the authors’ idea that “the use of GIS requires a certain amount of specialized knowledge but this knowledge is different from the expertise in quantitative analysis” has solved my confusion.

So, I think there might be a blurry line between quantitative studies and GIScience, and the quantitative problem in GIScience researches all have a geographical context, which makes it special.

And then it is interesting that we are back to the question that whether GIS is a tool or a science. She has made several points in her article, and I thinks those ideas are very well illustrated and can be easily understood by people in the other fields.

Thoughts on Geosurveillance

November 24th, 2019

This article about privacy issues in geospatial data gives me a broader idea of the surveillance issue in GIScience. Looking back at my past researches and projects, I have used a lot of data that have location information in it. Some of the information in the dataset are very well protected. As the literature have mentioned, people can protect some of the information by perturbation, aggregation, considering the level of privacy defined by user preferences, shortening the time collection period, and removing sensitive areas. However, not all data are processed by these steps. In one project, I have used some of the twitter data directly download from twitter. Those data reveals tweets with accurate coordinates together with time, username, and contents. So, each line of data has very detailed information in it, and it could be used for anything. So this makes me thing that do people still have privacy where big data are very prevalent recently.

The author also argues that this has a lot to do with users’ awareness of data privacy. I agree that most people will just skip reading privacy policy when they trying to register for websites or apps. Do this necessarily mean if we have more awareness towards data privacy, then we can gain more privacy?

I think in some cases, people do not have a choice to decide whether they want to share this kind if information. And, yes, I think as a researcher we should definitely consider privacy issue when we are dealing with sensitive data and follow the privacy checklists that the author provides.

A Geoprivacy Manifesto (Keßler & McKenzie, 2018)

November 24th, 2019

In this paper, the authors describe the current states of the art of location privacy and formulate challenges. The first of the 21 theses in the manifesto on geoprivacy states that location privacy stands apart from information privacy. The reasons for this include the range of inferences that can be drawn from location, the ease of capturing individuals’ locations, and the incentives which draw users to share their locations with service providers. As a special form of information privacy, is it adequate to apply information privacy models and algorithms for location privacy protection? Additionally, different users tend to have various location privacy requirements. How to enhance the available information privacy techniques to protect location privacy?

What I am also interested in is the benefits of sharing locations. The authors mention that location privacy is intricately related to service quality. The service provider processes a request based on its understanding regarding customers’ location, and more precise location information leads to higher quality of the service delivered. Besides helping to improve service quality, sharing locations is being able to find people in emergencies. Therefore, I wonder if people would become more comfortable with sharing their locations when they feel the benefits outweigh the risks.

Theorizing with GIS: a tool for critical geographies? (Pavlovskaya, 2006)

November 24th, 2019

This paper by Marianna Pavlovskaya (2006) provides an insightful discussion of theoretical issues related to the distinction between quantitative and qualitative methods. The author does not insist that GIS is either quantitative or qualitative. Critically analyzing the construction of the opposition between quantitative and qualitative methods and the process of breaking the links between epistemologies and methods has occurred in the last decade, Pavlovskaya argues that GIS is not always as quantitative as many geographers assume and claims to an originally non-quantitative GIS enable.

This paper highlights the key role of critical GIS in drawing attention to the potential of incorporating qualitative data and research into spatial analysis. Geographers should notice the importance of doing GIS in critical contexts. For example, much research has examined bikeability, which is the bicycle-friendliness of urban environment, using objective and quantitative measures, such as distance and topography. The qualitative data like perception and emotions of the cyclists can be used to measure the comfort in relation to cycling and improve the experience of cyclists.

The author also mentions that a growing literature on ‘mixed-methods’ integrates quantitative and qualitative techniques. All methods have specific limitations as well as particular strengths, we should combine qualitative and quantitative methods to compensate for their mutual and overlapping weaknesses. For example, in travel behavior studies, while quantitative methods can be applied to measure the frequency and distributions of trips, qualitative approaches focus on the subjective experiences of individuals related to travel and explain the relations that quantitative methods find.

Thoughts on Location privacy and location-aware computing (Duckham & Kulik, 2015)

November 24th, 2019

This is a book chapter from Duckham and Kulik, serves to introduce location privacy for both the problem and possible solutions. They highlighted the privacy concerns of revealing too much personal information due to the real-time location-sharing with service provider as well as information collector. As well as the abusive use of location information, which could potentially leads to harmful reality to individuals. The three possible strategies to protect location privacy are: 1. regulatory strategies; 2. privacy policies; 3. anonymity.

The most intriguing part of this article for me is the protection for location privacy. I do agree with the regulatory and privacy policies approach. I doubt, however, is there true anonymity on the internet now? Since our devices are designed to gather information from us, with enough information gathered from location-aware devices, even with masking technology, it is still not hard to identify individual with current technologies. Thus instead of focusing on anonymity, which for me, seems like a backward from information evolution, it is more important to control the access for the information fed by location-aware devices. Regulatory and privacy policies are certainly necessary and effective, however, a effective and authoritative surveillance system must be established to ensure the functionality of regulatory and privacy policies.

Online policing, information giant surveillance, hacking control, and information access control etc, needs to work under a public trusted and relatively transparent yet fair system. A system only serves political agenda to national or regional benefits (such as US government’s accusation on information security of Huawei product) does not fit the criteria. Thus, there is an emergence need to establish information control agencies, works smart and fair, serves international and planetary benefit, to reinforce our location privacy.

A geoprivacy manifesto

November 24th, 2019

The article presents a review on the individual location privacy issues by telling a little story of a couple’s one day life which is really interesting and easy for readers to understand how location privacy issues take place in everyone’s daily life. It is really a good paper explaining the basic concepts of geoprivacy and how it is produced and utilized, together with some profits and threatens that individual location brings about. From my perspectives, it is apparent that individual location information would bring great profits for politics, businesses, academics etc. because it provides the data sources for further human driven research analysis, prediction and other uses, helping understand the human behaviors for further profit-making applications. However, the debate about how sharing location information harms individual privacy keeps emerges. As it is referred to in the article, one big difference in geoprivacy and other privacy issue is the claim of individuals to determine whether to use or share the location information. Usually when people open an app or other services requesting location permission, they always decide whether to use the location services though there may be risks of utility for their individual location information. Depending on advantages of what it brings, people usually agree to share their location information. Thus, what I think matters most is to tell the users what kinds of risks and potential use of their location information and to regulate more on who will have the access to those information and restrict rules on proposal of using public individual location information. How GIScience would assist in those regulations and help if it is possible to conduct better location based human studies without revealing individual privacy inforamtion.

Theorizing with GIS: a tool for critical geographies?

November 24th, 2019

This paper written by Marianna in 2006 did a detailed literature research on qualitive and quantitative research aspects in GIScience, by proposing that placing GIS in quantitative group is misleading and raising up attention on qualitive research in GIS would help develop the foundation of social theory (processes and relationships) with spatial complexity. In the beginning, the author discusses how GISystem technologies be applied in quantitative research where GIS acting as a profound tool for discovering knowledge and patterns in purpose of making profits. However, quantitative research in geography are never independent of qualitive research and there are emerging debates on the role of these two kinds of researches. Furthermore, qualitive research and quantitative researches are now more associated and mixed when dealing with critical geographic issues.

What really interests me is that it is argued that qualitive shows up as a continuum of quantitative, but personally I think qualitive researches may be more fundamental than traditional quantitative research because without the understanding of quality issues about objects that further analysis would base on, quantitative should be nothing reliable. What’s more, it is discussed that qualitive methods are simple and easy but producing vague information which do not contribute much to theory development. Thus, how could qualitive research be widely accepted and gaining more attention and though it is fundamental to qualitive but how to conduct critical qualitive research and is there any universal regulation?

The paper explores deeply about the associations between qualitive and quantitative research in GIS and I am still a little confused of what the “critical geography” means from this paper.

Last, as stated in the paper, gap of quantitative research and qualitive research is being narrowed in the field of human geography, for better interpreting social processes and relationships, but how the mixture of these two kinds of research be applied in the fields of physical geography study? Or does it still matter a lot in physical geography studies?

Thoughts on An Introduction to Critical Cartography (Crampton & Krygier, 2006)

November 24th, 2019

This is a paper thoroughly reviews the foundation, revolution, current states, and possible future of critical cartography. Crampton & Krygier started with the essential of critics, emphasize the scientific, political, and resistant nature of critiques. Then they continued to examining the evolution of how cartographic critique evolved and conflicted. At last, after summarized the current stage of critical cartography, they focused on the five possible areas that further critics on cartography may thrive: arts of mapping, everyday mapping, maps as resistance, map hacking, and theoretic critique.

To me, my interests on critical cartography focuses more towards the theoretic critiquing part. I do agree that all critiques essentially helps the development of a discipline, but theoretic critics might help the most. As critical cartographers critiquing and re-thinking Robinson’s modern cartography theory, they helps promote a paradigm shift, a new way of thinking in cartography, which changes the discipline from its very foundation. Also, as the theories in current cartography and GIScience becoming more diverse and seeking to explain complex phenomenons, the critics on theories helps reveal and understand the complexity behind previously complex topics, which is I perceive as the most fundamental meaning of geographic research.

Also, their interpretation on map artists is very intriguing, since art and science traditionally have different yet somehow interactive epistemology. It is interesting to see how artists will contributes their unique perspective and ideology into cartography, which is a discipline arguably started from arts and evolved into science, or in some case, it is still an art. At the end, cartography seeks to present knowledge of the world, there is good opportunities of getting inspiration from the world via critics.

“You have zero privacy anyway, get over it!”

November 24th, 2019

How long can the concept of privacy as we currently understand it last? The quote here, pulled from Duckham and Kulik’s 2006 paper, cuts strait to the point of the privacy debate in the modern era. Even a broad overview of the different conceptions of geoprivacy, as written in this paper, can never successfully address the cultural drive to change norms around privacy. This is best captured in this case by a footnote on page 3, which points towards historic examples of radically different conceptions of privacy. It’s clear that due to cloud computing, the internet, and globalized social media networks we are in the midst of a paradigm shift when it comes to how most people in the world conceive of the line between public and private. While it is clear there will be (and are) negative ramifications of this trend, as outlined in this paper, the steamroller of history is clearly trending towards a far less private world than has ever been seen before. This begs the especially interesting question of what will this change do to culture and society, particularly when geoinformation is considered. What does a country where everyone knows where everyone else is all the time look like? I don’t think it’s especially far off.

Extending the history of critical cartography

November 24th, 2019

Crampton and Krygiers “Introduction to critical cartography” traces the historical roots of the current fixation on critical cartography. I found it to be a compelling read that does an excellent job of providing a description of the field. I especially liked the described purpose of critical cartography – “A critique is not a project of finding fault, but an examination of the assumptions of a field of knowledge. Its purpose is to understand and suggest alternatives to the categories of knowledge that we use. ”

The paper did however leave out the older roots of the concept of critical cartography. CC is framed as a response to the positivist, inflexible discipline of mapmaking that emerged in the early-to-mid 20th century. However, what preceded this era? Cartographic history goes back thousands of years, and the conception of what a map is often changes. I would argue, and I believe the authors would agree, that mapmaking from the age of exploration through the industrial revolution was hyper-aware of it’s own political and cultural biases. Maps were universally made as projects to further an imperial or other political entities goals, and often did not necessarily reflect the truth on the ground. This was an intentional decision by mapmakers who understood the purpose of maps to be something other than scientific.

The rise of science, in conjunction with the industrial revolution and the second wave of colonialism, fundamentally changed how many around the world perceived “truth.” What from this era directly led to the conceptualizations we see built into the movement towards positivist cartography found the century after? It’s clear than an entire book on the history of critical cartography could be written – and certainly has, given a short review of other available literature.

Thoughts on “A geoprivacy manifesto”

November 24th, 2019

This paper proposes 21 theses that summarize the main arguments related to geoprivacy. It argues that geoprivacy has mainly be addressed isolatedly from the technological and ethical points of view. There is a lack of integrative research on technological, ethical, economical, legal, and educational aspects of geoprivacy.

The concern of geoprivacy has been discussed a lot in previous GIScience topics. The concerns are largely due to the increasing amount of location data shared with external parties. Such concern can be intensified with GeoAI increasingly applied to make inference at a larger scale. This makes geoprivacy an important topic to discuss from various perspectives as discussed in this paper.

Most of the time we are talking about how locational devices infringe upon our privacy, whereas this article brings up an interesting point of how location information can be used for the good. One of the theses argues that individuals have the incentive to share their location information with providers for better services. Another similar situation is the use of locational data for better surveillance in the cities. This brings up the question of how much we should care about geoprivacy vs. better service, and how much we should preserve an individua’s right to privacy vs. better public surveillance.

Thoughts on Fair Information Practices

November 24th, 2019

In the reading “Location Privacy and Location-Aware Computing,” the authors talk about the five principles of fair information practices, which are regulatory strategies to protect location privacy. The first is notice and transparency, making individuals aware of who’s collecting their data. However, I’m not convinced that this helps to protect location privacy. The public is becoming increasingly aware of how much data social media companies collect on our location, for example, and while there has been some outcry this hasn’t prevented such a location privacy breach. The second is consent and use limitation, making individuals consent to personal information being collected. As so many people check “Terms of Service” boxes when downloading apps without reading them, consenting to data being collected on them without realizing it, I also don’t think that consent is enough to protect location privacy- informed consent is. The third fair information practice is access and participation: individuals must be able to access stored personal data. While this is possible, most people are not aware that it is or how they could access their data, so just making such an action feasible doesn’t mean the public at large will practically be able to take advantage of it. The fourth is integrity and security, companies who collect data having to keep them safe from “unauthorized access.” As a number of data hacks over the years has shown, companies may attempt to do this but have not always been successful. Therefore, while all of these practices are nice in theory, they have not been particularly meaningful in practice. Until all individuals are aware of how much location data companies collect of them, give informed consent for such data collection, and have easy, reasonable access to such data, these practices will not practically protect the public at large from unfair or excessive location data collection.

Thoughts on “An Introduction to Critical Cartography” by Crampton & Krygier

November 24th, 2019

This paper was an interesting read and a good introduction to critical cartography. However, I wonder if the democratization of cartography is quite as bottom-up now as the authors portray it to be in 2005. Nowadays, we have well-developed, public online mapping platforms like Google Maps and Open Street Maps, just to name a few. This makes me question how much the common person is interested in making their own map, when for the most part they have access to these free and relatively thorough platforms. Perhaps in places where the most popular online platforms aren’t well developed (for example, Port-aux-Prince before the earthquake in Haiti as Liz mentioned in her presentation), someone may be inclined to create their own map the way the authors describe. The same may be the case if a map exists but is not accurate. Otherwise, however, why would someone spend their time making a map if an accurate one already exists? In addition, if one were to make a map in this modern era of transition from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0, with the internet so populated with information and even institutions, could this process really be bottom-up? That’s to say, in a world with so much information from “higher authorities” like governments and private institutions, could individuals make maps in a vacuum, with no influence from such authorities? I would say they can’t. If individuals are pulling information or data from the Internet that come from a higher source, then the map they make using such data isn’t top-down. Perhaps back in 2005 the internet was still early enough in its development, and enough people weren’t using it, that bottom-up cartography was still a possibility. Now, however, the internet is a blessing and a curs that would prevent such a bottom-up process in mapmaking.

Reading “A geoprivacy manifesto” (Keßler & McKenzie, 2017)

November 22nd, 2019

This article gives a thorough introduction to a very relevant problem: geoprivacy. We have spent so much time bringing privacy issues up in class as potential issues and strains of thought in many GIS techniques, such as geoAI or VGI. I am excited to learn more about this issue as it concerns my everyday life as someone who regularly shares geospatial data via social media.

What interested me the most was the section on the legal and ethical aspects of geoprivacy. It seems like such a slippery slope as different countries have different privacy definitions and that many privacy issues transcend country borders. 

I also have a few questions from the reading. How do researchers and others determine which data is just not private enough to be anonymized? Not sure if this question has an answer, but  is there anything that we can do now to protect our geospatial information, or is it too late? How can we protect the most vulnerable (people who do not realize their privacy is being compromised at all)?

Thoughts on “Theorizing with GIS: a tool for critical geographies?”

November 21st, 2019

This piece is a good introduction to issues regarding GIS and its role on quantitative and qualitative research. It all resonates back to a theme we discussed at the beginning of the course, which is whether GIS is a science or a tool. This article is advocating for GIS as a GIScience, stating that GIS is a method, not a distinct quantitative or qualitative tool. Pavlovskaya, the author, further expands that quantitative and qualitative methods are also not as simple or opposite as some believe.

Pavlovskaya’s piece could have benefited from a solid introduction and definition of the term critical GIS, as to let readers unfamiliar with the topic better understand her arguments regarding the quantitative-qualitative divide. I agree with her concluding point that GIS should be better utilized in qualitative research in order to improve representation. 

This reminds me of a piece I read while researching my own topic, VGI, called “Crossing the qualitative-quantitative chasm 1: Hybrid geographies, the spatial turn, and volunteered geographic information (VGI)” by Daniel Sui and Dydia DeLyser. In this article, Sui and DeLyser argue that VGI can be a means to cross this chasm, with which I agree. Increasing qualitative research through public participation is not only a means to address top-down research tendencies, but also a way to gain data that was previously not possible to obtain. VGI and the neogeoweb give non-experts the opportunity to contribute geographic information, which is also shifting the historically-dominant role of professional geographers; I believe this shift falls right in line with critical GIS principles and its challenges to the status quo.

It’s also interesting to place Pavlovskaya’s paper in temporal context, as it was published in 2005, and I believe that in the past decade and a half there has been a lot more research that combines quantitative and qualitative research within GIS. However, this is just my perception of the field, and I do not have any hard facts to back up this belief.

Researching Volunteered Geographic Information (Elwood et al., 2012)

November 17th, 2019

In this paper, the authors classify sites related to the collection of VGI in order to study VGI quality and develop methods for analyzing VGI. VGI has altered how spatial data are created and the mechanisms for using and sharing these data. Because VGI is driven by contributors’ collective efforts, I am curious to know what motivates individuals to give freely of their time and expertise to develop VGI? What makes contributors stop contributing information to VGI projects? How do their motivations change as they engage in VGI activities? Will individuals map an area that has already been mapped in the last few years?

The authors point out concerns over the quality and trustworthiness of VGI. As we know, VGI has been used as an alternative to commercial or proprietary datasets. This makes me wonder about how can a VGI project, with no strict data specification or quality control, establish some type of trust. How to measure the reputation of a contributor to provide a better understanding of the quality and trust of the data? How to assess the quality of the contributions? Last, the authors mention that “VGI has the potential to address and constraints and omissions that plague SDIs”. Although VGI has concerns about data quality and scale and will not completely replace SDIs, I believe that VGI will become a key spatial data producer in SDIs.

Towards the Geospatial Web (Scharl, 2007)

November 17th, 2019

This chapter identifies the possibilities of spatial knowledge extraction from unstructured text. Unstructured data does not necessarily require a more structured geography. But if these data are combined with other datasets that are geolocated, being able to geolocate these data might be useful. Translating text into geographic information is difficult. It is also a much more difficult proposition than simply assigning coordinates to photographs. The author introduces geoparsing, which is a process used to extract spatial data from texts. In addition to photos and videos, we can now geotag text messages, tweets, and more. But what about the data generated before the emergence of geoweb? Can we extract spatial information from old new articles? How can we add a spatial structure to data that do not already have it in order to mesh it with geoweb? Also, I am looking forward to knowing some useful tools for geoparsing.

Furthermore, this chapter doesn’t clarify what exactly the geoweb is. What are the boundaries between the web and geoweb? Last, many of the platforms that we rely on for geographic information are for-profit entities that do not have issues of justice and equity. However, it is important for us to note that how the geoweb encode, reify, and (re)produce inequality.

Thoughts on Geospatial Web

November 17th, 2019

After reading this article, I found out that the geospatial web is much more than what I expected before. It turns out that geospatial web can not only be used in geography studies, but also can be used in other disciplines.

The article has mentioned that “Once geospatial context information becomes widely available, any point in space will be linked to a universe of commentary on its environmental, historical and cultural context, to related community events and activities and to personal stories and preferences”. So, I have a very interesting thoughts on this statement. Researches augmented reality are very popular in recent years. And I would say each world build in AR should also be in a certain geospatial context, so the things in that world also have some kind of location information. If it doesn’t have a location, the AR world would be a mess since everything will be floating around.

Obviously, the location information in AR world cannot be directly interpreted coordinates that exists in real world. But still, AR have some way to have all the things geolocated. And as mentioned in the author’s statement, it should be linked to a universe of commentary where the AR world can have some environmental, historical and cultural context. As a result, the AR world are very similar to the real world. So, the question would be can we have a geospatial web based on the AR world?

I would say yes, but I’m still curious about how can this works.

Thoughts on VGI

November 17th, 2019

With the development of the Internet, volunteered geographic formation played a more a more important role in not only geographic information science, but also human geography, human geography, and geographic education. But I noticed that the author emphasizes explicitly about the importance of the volunteer part. The author thinks that in order to be referred to as VGI, the people who involve in this should know that that are doing it voluntarily but not passively. Then this leaves me a question, then where should we categorize the data that are generated passively?

Besides, the author also mentioned that no one can guarantee the data quality of VGI data. Then I think it would be a big problem especially when researchers are using the data to make some critical decisions. Data uncertainty problem are always important no matter in what discipline. The data quality of VGI data, however, are extra harder to evaluate because it is volunteered, and they are collected and analyzed by different groups of people with different background. So, my question is that is there any way that researchers can at least take the data uncertainty problem into consideration when they are using it. The characteristics of the VGI data made it even harder to use regular ways to evaluate the data quality.

Another point is the author mentioned that there is some connection between Geospatial web and VGI, but he didn’t explain it. I’m very curious that is there any examples or explanation of it.