Elwood and Social approaches to data management/visualization

Elwood’s piece offers an overview of the issues in sorting geographic data. Following an explosion of available geographic data due to geo-tags, GPS units, and volunteered geographic information (VGI), she focuses on the challenge of sorting the data. The Web 2.0 has significantly contributed to this proliferation of data by making user-produced products much easier and more accessible. Elwood raises 3 stumbling blocks in massive data heterogeneity, how to represent qualitative spatial data, and keeping up to date with dynamic data over time.

            This article is useful in demonstrating that “visualization” is not only what is displayed, but also the conscious design behind the collection and organization of the data. The most captivating idea to me involved the context-dependent integration of data, where semantics are accorded nearly a field themselves. Here we find the intersection of the utility of a natural language ontology with data exploration as a subset of geovisualization. Contributors of geographic data are encouraged to work out how their data relates to a broader context/dataset, rather than being forced to think like computers and apply tags or join by attributes to attract the most set of eyes. This seems to be an example of an ideal structural philosophy that affects the public’s attitude and cognition of geospatial data. At the very least, users will be inclined to partially realize the spatial component of their data and its interconnectedness with larger processes. This represents a social approach (and not a technical one) towards data management. Perhaps we can call it the invisible hand of geography?



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