VGI and Geoslavery

An important issue that was brought up in this article, “Is VGI participation? From vernal pools to video games” by David Tulloch, was that of volunteers knowing their data is being used or not. The problem is raised that people are collecting and contributing data through their GPS and mobile devices often unknowingly and whether or not this should be considered as VGI. This relates well to the G.I.Science topic of Location Based Services, since often people use applications on their mobile devices or other related services that collect and store location data. With the advent of Facebook and Twitter (et al.), people are voluntarily sharing tons of data about themselves which are then used by those (and associated) companies. I would posit that this does border on geoslavery (versus incidentally volunteered data) as the author questions on page 169 because while people are technically aware that this data is being gathered (from “reading” the Terms & Agreements), I would imagine the majority of users are under-aware of the scope and implications of this multitude of volunteered data. I would say that in a perfect world, VGI should rely more heavily on data which people are aware they are volunteering. However, the data gathered from all the various sources (Twitter, etc.) has many academic uses, such as social-network analysis, not to mention the commercial applications of this volunteered geographic information, such as advertising, so I don’t imagine this trend changing anytime soon. More thought should be placed into the implications of this none the less.




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