VGI and the POWER LAW!!

Coleman, Georgiadou, and Labonte (2009) state that VGI causes a “more influential role [to be] assumed by the community” (p. 2). That’s great! But — is this influence level across the playing field of the “produsers” they talk about? Ross Mayfield’s Power Law of Participation says no.




As a produser, we fall somewhere along this graph which indicates our respective influence in the application, according to Mayfield. This Law affirms one of the fundamental characteristics of informational ‘produsage’ outlined in the article: the environment allows for fluid movement of individuals between different roles in the community. You can move along the Power Law graph whenever you want.With this in mind, we must consider who is located in each part for different participatory applications, and whether the produsers comprising the high engagement-collaborative intelligence are a good representation for the application’s purpose. After CGIS, power comes hand-in-hand with thoughts of who is being left behind; who is not being represented by the high engagement community.

The article provides a succinct overview of VGI, some of its applications, categories of users and their motivations, and potential data issues. Where does VGI fall short? In a world where collaboration and public participation see increasing popularity, will we be able to solely rely on VGI in the future? True, popularity != credibility — we still need to look at the holes in the maps.



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