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Title:Ecologies of digital mapping: Open source communities and grassroots maps
Author(s):Prutzer, Edward S.
Director of Research:McCarthy, Cameron
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McCarthy, Cameron
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Hay, James; Chan, Anita; Hamilton, Kevin
Department / Program:Inst of Communications Rsch
Discipline:Communications and Media
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Media Studies
Science and Technology Studies
Abstract:This dissertation explores the work and practices (both online and offline) of digital mapping communities in matters of disaster management, environmental justice, and grassroots activism. My interest in these communities stems from their drive to integrate considerations of the lifeworld, in the parlance of Jürgen Habermas, into systems of digital mapping to create and maintain actionable data archives. The project is a multi-method qualitative approach employing archaeological analysis, Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), and participant observation to study three communities: Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), OpenStreetMap (OSM), and Public Lab. While Habermas’ work influences the slate of methods, Susan Leigh Star’s conceptualization of ecologies and Michael Burawoy’s extended case method equally inform it. The dissertation is comprised of eight chapters which explore the role of mapping in contemporary times and why it is worth studying; detail the theoretical and methodological purview at hand; analyze archived documents from the administrations of President Clinton and President George W. Bush on imagined public use of GPS; examine discursive commitments of grassroots mapping in its values, beliefs, and practices; delve into the work of each of the aforementioned communities through participant observation; and summarize responses to the project’s research questions while specifying what one can gain from seeing maps as ecologies. Accordingly, I argue that mapping merits fuller explorations in terms of discourse and practice; human and nonhuman production; and different space-times in contribution. This is needed to complicate the increasingly “living” nature of maps; the development of the infrastructures, policies, and technologies underpinning nonexpert-produced maps; and inventive use of maps towards matters of the public sphere. Envisioning digital mapping systems as complex ecologies in doing so more critically accounts for the challenges that ethical orientations toward technology, intellectual property policies, and structures of class, colonialism, and gender in relation to technology pose in nonexpert production of maps. Work in communication and media research and Science and Technology Studies (STS) provides a critical foundation for such investigations. However, this dissertation also refines conceptualizations of mapping and technology in these areas to account for the current state of such formations.
Issue Date:2019-08-13
Type:Text
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/106304
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Edward Prutzer
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-03-02
Date Deposited:2019-12


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