Journal cover Journal topic
Proceedings of the ICA
Journal topic
Articles | Volume 2
10 Jul 2019
 | 10 Jul 2019

Caveat Emptor: A new form of participatory mapping and its ethical implications for Participatory GIS

Koshiro Suzuki

Keywords: Caveat Emptor, geographic information ethics 2.0, PGIS

Abstract. Since the 1990s, the consolidation of technological platforms for geographic information has expanded the possibilities of geospatial analysis in conjunction with GIS. Even ordinary people have become capable of interactive web communication with electronic maps thanks to the emergence of smartphones compatible with GeoAPI (application programming interface) and Wi-Fi access. Many studies have described the progress that built a solid foundation of web democracy by embodying people-powered mapping circumstances in the so-called Web 2.0. However, we have yet to acquire geographic information ethics that sufficiently respond to new threats stemming from these circumstances. In the present paper, the author instantiated a user-generated online mapping website named Caveat Emptor (a.k.a. Oshimaland) to investigate the necessity of a geographic information ethics 2.0. By incorporating Suler’s (2004) concept of online disinhibition effects, the author clarified that people can utilise new technologies both in good ways and bad, from behind the safety of a mask. Despite the omnoptic mutual surveillance environment, the associated participants in actual scenes of cyberspace are not always restrained. This explains why it is necessary to update geographic information ethics to be compatible with Web 2.0 circumstances. Four types of ethical challenges were identified that are concerned with (1) the extent to which volunteered geographic information (VGI) should be recruited in constructing collective knowledge, (2) how to build a renewed geographic information ethics in general, (3) how to construct a gradation in geographic information ethics in practice, and (4) what scientific knowledge should be referred to in the contiguous areas of specialisation.

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