Yesterday I sat in on a talk by Muki Haklay of UCL entitled “What’s so new in Neogeography?”
Muki talked about levels of hacking within the world of neogeo from deep technical hacking (changing GIS application code) through, shallow technical hacking (his words not mine) which I think are mashups to use hacking and meaning hacking which involve using the tools and information in different ways to those originally intended.
The bit that caught my interest was the somewhat radical view that openness, democratisation, collaboration and other core tenets of the Web 2.0 world may not be quite as benign as we have all been lulled into believing. Is an elegant mashup, such as the US Holocaust Museum with Google Earth, accessed by the technorati creating the illusion of participation instead of prompting people to take action or contribute? Do those clamouring for freer access to publicly created data sets want to provide the same free access to the products they build from this free data? Does the profile of those connecting online to public services exclude those most in need of these services? Does it matter if the profile of completeness of OSM is inverse to the index of multiple deprivation (i.e the most deprived areas are those least covered by OSM)?
These topics lead Muki to bring in the concept “technolibertarianism” first suggested by Paulina Borsook in her book Cyberselfish in which she describes
a technology culture which is strongly individualistic, ‘violently lacking in compassion, ravingly anti-government, and tremendously opposed to regulation …private sector can do everything …’ protecting privacy, skimping on philanthropy, ignoring environmental concern and hating cities and philanthropy is done directly, deciding on hobby topics, ‘unholistically’ and without trust in governments
Muki suggested that there was a thread of technolibertarianism within the neogeo world
Lack of awareness of serious social problems, little empathy with gender, ability, and ethnicity issues
Strong and thought provoking stuff and I am sure many will disagree but worth discussing at least.
The slides are here and if you want to sit in on the next session entitled “Data Quality and Neogeography” details are here