New interactive web services are dramatically altering the way in which ordinary citizens can create digital spatial data and maps, individually and collectively, to produce new forms of digital spatial data that some term 'volunteered geographic information' (VGI). This article examines the early literature on this phenomenon, illustrating its shared propositions that these new technologies are part of shifts in the social and technological processes through which digital spatial data are produced, with accompanying implications for the content and characteristics of geospatial data, and the social and political practices promoted through their use. I illustrate how these debates about VGI conceive of spatial data as socially embedded, and suggest ways in which future research might productively draw upon conceptualizations from participatory, feminist, and critical GIS research that have emerged from similar foundations.
For qualitative researchers, selecting appropriate sites in which to conduct interviews may seem to be a relatively simple research design issue. In fact it is a complicated decision with wide-reaching implications. In this paper, we argue that the interview site itself embodies and constitutes multiple scales of spatial relations and meaning, which construct the power and positionality of participants in relation to the people, places, and interactions discussed in the interview. We illustrate how observation and analysis of interview sites can offer new insights with respect to research questions, help researchers understand and interpret interview material, and highlight particular ethical considerations that researchers need to address.
In the mid-1990s, several critical texts raised concerns about the social, political, and epistemological implications of GIS. Subsequent responses to these critiques have fundamentally altered the technological, political, and intellectual practices of GIScience. Participatory GIS, for instance, has intervened in multiple ways to try to ameliorate uneven access to GIS and digital spatial data and diversify the forms of spatial knowledge and spatial logic that may be incorporated in a GIS. While directly addressing core elements of the 'GIS & Society' critique, these reconstructions of a critical GIScience introduce their own ambiguities with respect to access, equity, digital representation of spatial knowledge, and epistemologies of new GIS research practices. In this paper, I examine some of the new and persistent ambiguities of participatory GIS that bear inclusion in future critical GIScience research.
New spatial media – the informational artefacts and mediating technologies of the geoweb – represent new opportunities for activist, civic, grassroots, indigenous and other groups to leverage web‐based geographic information technologies in their efforts to effect social change. Drawing upon evidence from an inductive analysis of five online initiatives that engage new spatial media in activism and civic engagement, we explore new dimensions of the knowledge politics advanced through new spatial media and the mechanisms through which they emerge. ‘Knowledge politics’ refers to the use of particular information content, forms of representation or ways of analysing and manipulating information to try to establish the authority or legitimacy of knowledge claims. The five new spatial media initiatives we analyse here introduce new dimensions to the modes of collecting, validating and representing information, when considered against practices of many activist/civic encounters with other kinds of geographic information technologies, such as GIS. The significance of these practices is not in their (arguable) newness, but rather their role in advancing different epistemological strategies for establishing the legitimacy and authority of knowledge claims. Specifically, these new knowledge politics entail a deployment of geovisual artefacts to structure a visual experience; a prioritisation of individualised interactive/exploratory ways of knowing; hyper‐granular, highly immediate, experiential cartographic representations de‐coupled from conventional practices of cartographic abstraction; and approaches to asserting credibility through witnessing, peer verification and transparency.
This review examines emerging research on the geoweb, particularly recent efforts to assess the social, political and disciplinary shifts associated with it. The rise of the geoweb is associated with shifts in the processes and power relations of spatial data creation and use, reconfigurations in previously bounded disciplinary knowledge sets, and shifts in the subjectivities and social relations that are produced through the geoweb’s technologies, data, and practices. This early research on the societal implications of the geoweb is drawing productively upon conceptual frameworks from critical GIS, public participation GIS, and spatial data infrastructure research, but must also theorize beyond these existing bodies of work.
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