Arts, Maps and Society – Paris, France
The third and final conference I attended this summer was in Paris, France in July. Initially I had not planned on attending, but it ended up coinciding with the dates that I wanted to head to Ethiopia and Kenya so I thought it would be a great way to add value to the trip and went.
The Arts, Maps and Society conference was organized as a part of the International Cartographic Association’s annual conference. While I did not have a lot of interested in the main conference, this special session struck me as a way to see what other bright minds were up to in Europe with regards to social mapping projects. Both my supervisor Jon and I were in attendance and Jon presented his research with the Tlowitsis Nation around Victoria Island, B.C. For my presentation, I demonstrated the ideals and mechanisms behind Mapping Across Borders. The half page abstract for this talk is at the end of the blog if you would like to read it.
The conference was short, but particularly interesting. The other two conferences that I had been to were dedicated to technologies for GIS and Open Source GIS, but this one was specifically for social uses of mapping. I was able to see a number of different projects and their approaches as well as meet the people behind them as well. One of these people is D.R. Fraser Taylor, a professor in Canada with long standing relationships with national mapping agencies in African countries. I had a number of interesting conversations with him over the day and will be following up with some of his suggestions and contacts in the months to come.
When the conference was over, a number of the participants and I sauntered off to a cafe to relax and finish off earlier conversations. It was a great cap to the day and I got to know a few very interesting people. With the conference over however, my next flight was to the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. Stay tuned for a summary of my month in Ethiopia in the next blog!
Mapping Across Borders: Online Collaboration, Social Networking and Micro Volunteering
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) enables the management, exploration, and planning of spatial information. In the Global North GIS has been used extensively for the past fifty years by demographers, city planners, engineers and academics. However in the Global South, GIS is still relatively new technology, used by international non-governmental organizations (The United Nations, the CIGAR group, the World Agro-Forestry Centre) and governments to a varying degree. Smaller domestic NGOs in the Global South often do not have the resources to afford the high price tag attached to GIS software or training.
Mapping Across Borders is a Canadian non-profit organization that is utilizing free and open-source GIS software and open education materials to provide mapping technologies to domestic non-governmental organizations in the Global South. Mapping Across Borders has found that providing software and education materials are not enough however – education in GIS requires a support system with ongoing mentorship. To fill this need, Mapping Across Borders is creating a website to enable Canadian university students to volunteer their time online to fill in knowledge gaps and to work on projects with non-governmental organizations in the Global South.
The website that is currently in development utilizes a number of Web 2.0 technologies to foster online collaboration such as Micro-Volunteering (volunteering only minutes at a time), Social Networking (leveraging the power of social connections), as well as group editing and learning (wiki-style editing and ownership, question and answer systems, and online assignments).
This conference talk will focus on the open-source software and open education that Mapping Across borders uses and the Web 2.0 technologies that are leveraged in order to make the Mapping Across Borders’ goals of driving social change with technology possible.