In “Is VGI participation? From vernal pools to video games” (2008), Tulloch attempts to unearth the relationship between Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) and Public Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS). Although he finds that they share some overlap (twenty to eighty percent?), they contrast in that “VGI is more about applications and information while PPGIS seems more concerned with process and outcomes” (170).

An interesting idea that comes out of this article is that VGI should be considered in policy/decision making: “while VGI might often fail to provide officially certified data that can support legally defensible policy decisions, ignored VGI sources could easily undermine an otherwise well-planned project” (168). This reminds me of a story about tweets being used to guide news stories, but not supplying enough background proof to be an actual source. Will tweets and VGI one day become admissible evidence in courtrooms? How is technology affecting formal practices?

The article also raises the question of “who is participating?” and if they really represent the “public”. However, I would argue that those who participate in person are not necessarily speaking for the general public. In most situations, only a small fraction of society will feel the urge to speak up, but perhaps VGI could have a positive effect on the proportion of people participating. I look forward to finding out how VGI and PPGIS have been used in marginalized communities.


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