geoweb nation

Reading  “Doing Public Participation on the Geospatial Web” made me wonder who is posting on the Internet and what we know about them. In the case of the Okanagan Fire map, some participants weren’t sharing their experiences online because they felt they didn’t have the authority to do so. This challenges the common idea that the anonymity of online forums allows people to lose their inhibitions. It is in fact the “reach and durability” of the platform that stopped them from contributing. Does this imply that the contributors have actual knowledge or expertise? It would certainly be interesting to see if those who speak up in real life are also those who feel entitled to write their opinions online, and vice versa, and then compare their qualifications.

Moreover, more weight or importance was awarded to posts with “likes” or “thumbs ups”. Who is behind these popular views, and are they trustworthy? A quick look at the comments section of any online publication might make the reader reconsider the merits of democracy. I, for one, would not want to be led by any “top posters”.

Finally, the following argument on anonymity and accuracy gave me pause: “[a]nonymity also complicated questions of data accuracy since scientists examining results on nlnature wanted the identity of contributor x as a way to verify who was (in)correctly identifying species” (26). Are the scientists identifying the correct and incorrect entries, and then want to know the identity of the posters for statistical purposes? Or are the poster’s qualifications affecting the findings’ accuracy?


[One last note, vis-à-vis the spelling of the expression as viz-a-viz: am I missing a pun or is this an English interpretation of French?]





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