Posts Tagged ‘OSM’

Footprints and priorities

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Goodchild’s (1998) ‘Geolibrary’ chapter is a great introduction to the geolibrary field and the challenges it poses. However, it should be noted that it was published 14 years ago, which may mean that some of the questions raised have already been answered, while others still remain problematic, and further, new questions are anticipated. In particular, geographical footprints have become more complex in search queries. “But the current generation of search engines, exemplified by Alta Vista or Yahoo, are limited to the detection and indexing of key words in text. By offering a new paradigm for search, based on geographic location, the geolibrary might provide a powerful new way of retrieving information” (2). Now that we have Google as the most used search engine, I agree with Jeremy regarding his reference to Google Maps and searches related to businesses. I believe it is a type of geolibrary, although the economic and legal issues that Goodchild poses come to mind (8). As Google as a business the payment for its maintenance and the legal rights it holds become convoluted and at times questionable to the users. Would open-source map applications such as OpenStreetMap be more appropriate to manage financial and legal issues with fewer controversies?

Geolibrary footprints continue to be interesting due to its ability to enhance or hinder the amount of sources a user is exposed to. The more in the vicinity a user is to the specific location they are researching and want to extensively explore the database of a particular geolibrary, the more information that individual will find. This can be problematic for remote researchers that are constrained to a geographical location, and at a great distance from their research study area. This can have serious implications on the research conducted as the way the research unfolds drastically alter based on the amount of sources available. In a sense, it is stifling the global aspect of geolibraries as a plethora of sources about a location is still only available in the proximity of the location in question. As the questions a geolibrary can answer revolve around area, geographical footprints can play a significant role to diminish uneven distribution of place related information in a digital form.

-henry miller