Where is the validation?

My main qualm concerning geovisualisation is the insane amounts of data that is popping up on the Internet daily, and how people are trying to go about making any sense of it and using it for research (in academia, for use in constructing political policies, generating public knowledge, etc.). Data is gaining increases in complexity and heterogeneity simultaneously as new uses are being found for this data. Kraak and MacEachren outline that geospatial data resources are being used to create visualization tools that enable understanding and recreate knowledge. From my understanding of the article, not many measures are being enacted to ensure the validity of the data and subsequent knowledge it creates. But are they even necessary?

Particularly following the problems of semantic differences in data across users as well as the presence of collaborative sources, data seems to have inherent problems with translatability when it comes to interfaces trying to support individual differences. People view things different ways and at varying scales, and in the realm of geovisualisation where the social is becoming increasingly prominent, how do we account for the differences seen and deem what is “correct”—how can we say what is valid information and what isn’t?

I suppose the answer lies in the problem. With an increasing number of users creating data there is also an increasing number of users checking the data. Interactivity and collaboration allows people to change data—a sort of built-in member checking. Ensuring validity is as great of a responsibility as generating geospatial data in the first place.

Further thoughts: As user generated data is checked by other users, does this infer that the data used to produce knowledge will reflect some sort of regression towards the mean if outliers are eliminated? In a social aspect, will geovisualisation just show the averages in spatial perception?

-sidewalk ballet

One Response to “Where is the validation?”

  1. OutdoorAddict says:

    Outliers and Feedback

    There are two things you mentioned that I found interesting. You mention that VGI can be validated by the very people who contribute to it and those who check it. I would argue that although there are more people who read information posted on some sites such as Wikipedia, these people are not necessarily going to feel any obligation to correct wrong information. In fact, in Geog 407, we discussed that there is in fact a decreasing number of editors on Wikipedia. (See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125893981183759969.html)I am willing to bet that you have been on Wikipedia many times but have never felt the need (or perhaps had the knowledge) to update a “stub” article or contribute to a discussion on a particular detail.

    Secondly, in response to the final question in your post, I would answer with the following. The question posed is interesting, “In a social aspect, will geovisualisation just show the averages in spatial perception?” and I believe there is an answer to that but that it is time dependent. As technology is first presented to the public, it is the newest, most advanced technology there is available to the public. As such, only the portion of the public who has knowledge of that type of technology will be using it initially. However, over a period of time, the knowledge to use that technology would become more widespread and available to many more people and groups allowing even those you would deem outliers or marginal etc. to put forward their own views and uses of a geovisualization technology. Ultimately the technology will empower them to be able to contribute to the Web 2.0. I do agree that there will probably be some kind of ‘mean’ or more common subjects or information types used but that over time there will be a gradual spread of the technology and its use.

    -Outdoor Addict