[Air-L] Call for papers: Is Google Good for Geography?

martin dodge m.dodge at manchester.ac.uk
Thu Sep 18 14:27:43 PDT 2008

Call for papers - 2009 Association of American Geographers Annual
Conference. 22-27 March 2009, Las Vegas, USA.

Is Google Good for Geography? Web2.0 and the Political Economy of User
Generated Geographical Knowledge

Session organisers:

Matthew Zook
Department of Geography, University of Kentucky

Martin Dodge
Geography, School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester

The dramatic rise of Web2.0 applications and practices have facilitated
the creativity and voluntary collaboration of masses of Internet users,
e.g., wikis, folksonomies, mash-ups, tagging, social networking, etc. Of
particular interest to Geographers are the evolving forms, functions and
scope of spatial referenced information such as local news, reviews,
commentaries, recommendations, photographs and maps.  Perhaps the highest
profile example is GoogleMaps which allows for user generated placemarks
and geotagged images, ground-truthing, spatial reviews, etc. and is
changing the amount and granularity of information readily available about
vernacular places. But widespread user generated data and notations need
not translate into valuable knowledge nor is this process neutrally
distributed across all places or among all peoples. In short, this
session explores where, by whom, about what and how the introduction of
Web2.0 applications is producing knowledge about places.

Suggested themes:
We invite theoretically informed analyses questioning the social effects,
cultural meanings and political economy of Web2.0 innovations for
geography, with particular consideration of the following themes:

# Assessing the real potential of Web2.0 geographical knowledge to
encompass alternative voices and richer descriptions of place.

# The perils of Web2.0 geographical knowledge to further the
commodification of local places and the marketisation of personal feelings
and ideas.

# The politics of the Web2.0 socio-technical infrastructures and corporate
structures underpinning the collection and distribution of user generated
geographical knowledge.

# The economies of who owns, indexes, aggregates and repackages user
generated knowledge about places.

# Consideration of the risks that flow from people's unwitting trust in
the truth of Web2.0 geographical knowledge.

# The embodied practices of user generated geographical knowledge and the
ways in which these may be associated with social power, e.g. gendered,
classed, aged, etc. to create the cultural meanings attached to Web2.0.

# The efficacy of Web2.0 geographical knowledge. How do we evaluate the
accuracy and fidelity of new geographical databases, taxonomies and wiki

# The artistic, playful, or subversive potential of the Web2.0
geographical knowledge.

# The ethics of web2.0, particularly relating to individual privacy and
community rights. The geo-surveillance potential of Web2.0 for states and


Proposed papers in the form of a title and short abstract (250 words
maximum) should be submitted to Martin Dodge (m.dodge at manchester.ac.uk) by
8th October 2009.  Further details on the paper requirements and cost of
registration for the AAG meeting are at


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