Volunteered Geographic Information: the nature and motivation of produsers

Coleman et al. nicely characterizes the types of people who volunteer geographic information and the nature of their contributions in an easy to read and understand article. Especially important to keep in mind was the difference between “information produsage” and “informational production”. The mix of expertise, reasoning and type of contribution the authors provided are necessary considerations that a firm or individual should further investigate before using the data. The questions going forward were particularly interesting because it suggested to question how/if using the volunteered GI data would be useful, and what potential risks would arise. It reminds the audience to take a step back from the abundance of freely available geospatial data around us to assess what use it has to our research and whether it is the best dataset suitable to answer the research questions.

Beyond considering the data itself, a GI scientist is faced with dealing with the sheer massiveness of the data, how to capture, store, process, and display the data (yikes …that’s a lot of things to consider). But who is ultimately responsible for this data to ensure its accuracy (whatever accuracy means within the context of the data). Is it a data analyst at wiki or Google or should a GI scientist determine accuracy? I think whoever holds the power to “legitimize” the data will determine its acceptability in theory creation and policy-making. However, since we often associate legitimate information with academia or knowledge experts does this just reinforce a top down discourse of power that volunteer geographic information is supposed to challenge?


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