GCI: Quality over quantity

Yang et al. (2010) have helped clarify the complexity of Geospatial Cybernetic Infrastructure (GCI). However, the field covers so much ground that, at times, I found it difficult to grasp. The definition and scope of GCI is very, very ambitious: to utilize data resources, network protocols, computing platforms, and services that create communities. These communities comprise of people, information, and technological tools, which are then brought together to “perform science or other data-rich applications in this information-driven world” (264). Furthermore, the objectives are vast, where responsibility is placed on many variables: social heterogeneity, data analysis, semantic web, geospatial middleware, citizen-based sciences, geospatial cloud computing, collaboration initiatives. With so much going on simultaneously, it should not come as a surprise that organization is one of the main challenges in GCI. Perhaps covering less ground may lead to higher quality progress.

Despite the many obstacles that GCI must overcome, the advancement of Location-Based Services (LBS) (especially mobile technology) and digital earths have shown the potential for GCI. They are largely ubiquitous due to their user-friendly interfaces. Along with such developments, the attractive end-user interface component is significant. However, should primarily be informative, not just pretty. “The geospatial Semantic Web is a vision in which locations and LBS are fully understood by machines” (268). I believe this vision should be extended to humans also understanding (as close to “fully” as possible) the meaning of the geospatial Semantic Web.

Qwiki is a platform that represents both the semantic web and information processing. A combination of intelligent agent (primary) and human participation (secondary), it is a dynamic, visually emphasized version of Wikipedia. Here we have a conglomeration of different areas, supporting the multi-disciplinary aspect that GCI aims in representing and also the challenge of “how to best present data and information from multiple resources” (268). Qwiki has the potential to help organize enormous amounts of geospatial data from different domains, resources, applications, and cultural backgrounds. That is, if the data becomes digitized. Even though I advocate for quality, I believe quantity in terms of data organization is key as it is the first step towards knowledge building: data to information to knowledge. Organized data, in turn, prepares for advances in other areas of GCI to meet the proposed objectives.

-henry miller

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