Crowd Sourced Master Plan, One Step Removed

Rinner, from the beginning, claims that user-generated information is not considered a “serious” pursuit. To test his theory, he scrapes user-generated text for geographic references, only to retroactively apply a geo-reference to the post. The researchers, who are responsible for geographically referencing the post, strip away the users involvement in the geographic context. This can introduce a large source of error into the data. Consider, on page 14, a marker’s placement corresponds to the “label in Google’s “map” view.” In the event that a user refers to a general area, choosing to place a label greatly reduces the dimension of the users perspective. Much like a home is not a coordinate, but a structure, and the surround property, land, or neighborhood. Had the researchers allowed the users to actively tag locations to their posts, they would have gained far greater insight into the users intentions.

The creation of a Master Plan cannot be accomplished using the scientific method. Studies can find correlations, in certain areas, but many fall apart when the study area is changed. This may be due to social and cultural differences. In that light, and working on the basis that people are subjective creatures, a crowd-sourced master plan can gain from further empowering the constituents. In the case of the Ryerson Master, providing the user with the ability to choose the location of their post’s geo-tag may have developed another dimension for the study.

As a side note for crowd sourced urban planning, I do not think that even high-scale maps are sufficient. The city is rarely experienced from the air. With that in mind, I am in favor of developing forum in which people can experience the city from the ground. To my knowledge, no such technology yet exists.


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