Posts Tagged ‘O’Sullivan’

A Critique of the Critics

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

O’Sullivan’s critique of the critics of GIS is a good summary of the position that many people hold on the role of GIS in social sciences. The author touches on three items from a research agenda on “GIS and society,” namely the relevance of GIS in grassroots movements, GIS from a feminist perspective, and privacy issues inherent in data collection. Although there is justification for omitting discussions on the remaining four themes from Initiative 19, it would have been interesting to learn about other ways in which people are criticizing—oftentimes constructively—GIS’s role in society.

I am particularly interested in the theme of PGIS (participatory GIS), in part because I am researching VGI (volunteer-generated information) for this course. Beyond the ethical and accuracy concerns—of which I do not deny, there are many—I fail to see how PGIS might be critiqued in a social context. In fact, if the primary concern for the use of GIS in social contexts is power assertions in methods of visualization, then surely a way to collect and visualize information generated by the public is in complete contrast to this fear of authorial bias. Furthermore, if PGIS is largely volunteered (VGI), then ethical concerns are diminished, and if the data is confirmed via an objective algorithm, then the accuracy concerns are also moot. PGIS is, perhaps, the most useful method of real-time data collection possible, and it should be utilized as much as possible. As O’Sullivan notes, it is a way to empower citizens, to give them an equal voice, and I agree completely.

– JMonterey

ABMs: representation, coherence, balance

Monday, January 30th, 2012

O’Sullivan’s article is a rather critical account of ABMs. The article states the issue of highly funded models, which are too sensitive to reveal the outcomes of or are too complex to be explained in journal articles (544). State-of-the-art findings will reach a specific audience, not the audience that they were intended for. Thus, if ABMs are social agents, representing social issues, we have one serious limitation. How will transparency, availability, and clarity be attained? Perhaps we should strive for balance in models between the relationship of agents with space, and how and where those agents are represented (545).

I found it difficult not to get lost in the definitions of ABMs. In particular, their accuracy, validity, and lucidity. Bonabeau differentiates ABMs from market models with advancing game theory, by taking the focus off of the ‘theory’ part. On the other hand, O’Sullivan finds ABMs to be simple and abstract, effective for researching theory implications. He goes on further to state that ABMs, as they stand, “cannot establish the truth of those theories” (546). How then, can the truth of those theories be established? Should we be concerned with the idea of theory? Or restructuring what we deem that a model is all together? The issues with regards to the way space and time are represented are being explored and that’s definitely a good thing. Despite all the setbacks, there is much potential in ABMs as they are exploring numerous fields. As long as limitations diminish, there is hope.

-henry miller