Volunteered Geography

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Michael Goodchild, a professor of Geography at UC Santa Barbara, explores the historical and current trends of collaborative geographic data creation in what he terms “volunteered geography” in an article published in GeoJournal.  In dissecting this phenomenon, Goodchild seeks to answer the following questions: “what drives people to do this, how accurate are the results, will they threaten individual privacy, and how can they augment more conventional sources?”  Goodchild cites the Martin Waldseemüller map which is the first documented use of “America” as an early example of what he calls “volunteered geographic information (VGI).”  On a more current level, Goodchild looks at modern examples of Wikimapia, OpenStreetMap, and Google Earth.

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