Geographic Data and Inequalities

I just assisted a great panel at SXSWi that discussed the inequalities of Geo-Data on the internet.  This is something we sometimes overlook when we talk about geographic information on the web. There is a lot of user-generated data that is being produced daily automatically and purposefully and attached to different kinds of content.  What is geodata telling us about the production and representation of geographic information on the internet? whose local knowledge is represented on the geo-spatial web? which places are left out? what communities are being silenced?

I was fascinated by the work that Mark Graham from the Oxford Internet Institute has been doing, mapping and visualizing the inequalities of representation of place on the internet. Those maps reveal very clearly how many places are being left out of the geographic-web, and how those shadows or silences on information are related to the speaking languages and economic development of different communities and countries. Not surprisingly, there is a big linguistic unequal distribution of the internet content that has been annotated with geographic data.

Graham and Stephens, two of the presenters are members of a great blog called floating sheep.


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