Thoughts on Web Mapping 2.0: The Neogeography of the GeoWeb (Haklay et al. 2008)

This paper overviews the development of Geography in the Web 2.0 era, where neogeography is founded based on the blurring boundary of geographers, consumers, technicians, and contributors. The case study of OSM and London Profiler showed how technology allows geography and cartography embrace new form of data sources, interaction with general public, as well as the access to geographical knowledge and information.

The most intriguing part for me from this paper is the debate of whether Web 2.0 brings public participation in Geographic information manufacturing and researches a “cult of the amateur” or “mass collaboration”. From my point of view, this is what professionals from the realm of geography is needed. Data is neutral, but not their providers, contributors, or manufacturers. However, no one is going to complain about the abundance of available data, especially it is detailed user generated data that serves as a complement of what was missing before. It is up to the expert to decide what to do and how to interpret with the data, instead of blaming the source of the data.

From there, my point being there is nothing wrong with the information, along with its provider. What only matters are the people that interpreting, making profit, and discovering knowledge from it. Thus whether Web 2.0 is facilitating a “cult of the amateur” or “mass collaboration” solely depends on how the professionals who is trying to use the data. Even some seemingly useless data in one research can be extremely important for another field of research. Thus, geography as an open-minded multi-disciplinary science, drawing lines and rejecting what is novel, trendy and probably the future, is not supported by the ideology of the subject. Adaption and evolution should be the key for a science subjects.

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