Monthly Archives: February 2016

Humanities and New Technologies: Tools and Methodologies – Assignment 1: Crowdsourced Spatial Participation

Getting Started

For this assignment I set up an Open Street Map account under the name ‘blathnaidk’. While I was very interested in the potential that OSM has for humanitarian work, I felt that as I was acquainting myself with how OSM works, it would be best to focus on mapping an area that I was personally familiar with.

I had originally intended on mapping my own neighbourhood, however, after exploring where I live on OSM, I found that the whole area was mapped thoroughly already. With this in mind, I decided on a different area to focus my attention, that being, Stoja beach outside of Pula city, Croatia. This beach is a somewhat regular holiday destination for me, and due to the forested and rocky landscape of the beach, there was very little mapping of the trails and pathways which tourists often use for hiking, mountain biking and other activities to and from the coastline.

stoja beach

A photograph of Stoja beach I took in August 2015

The Process

The process that I undertook in completing this assignment was straight-forward; it was necessary that I mark several features on the map: paths and dirt trails that led to and from the beach, buildings and landmarks, and most importantly, the clearing that is often used for parking and camping, which is connected to some of the paths and trails. In addition to this, it was also important that I edit several features of the map, for example, the names of previously marked features, such as the coastline and beach itself, (the beach was marked as a ‘naturist’ beach which was incorrect).

In order to do this, I used the in-browser editor, IDEditor. I began by adding some paths that led to and from the beach into the forested area. Once I had completed this, I corrected the direction of the main road that accepts cars, (this had been listed as a ‘road’, when it is in fact an unpaved, gravel trail).  From here, I marked the clearing in the forest, where it is possible for people to drive, cycle or walk to from the main road. Once marking the clearing, I then marked a large and dangerous ditch that was nearby, some ruins and several buildings.

After mapping these features, I was finally able to mark several trails from the beach to the larger paths and the forested area. These small trails were difficult to map as they are completely unpaved and challenging to locate with aerial imagery alone. However, I believe I was able to adequately map a number of these trails to a satisfactory degree.

screenshot1

My finished work on Stoja beach. (Click to zoom)

Implications

From what I have contributed in this assignment on OSM, I believe that I have helped map an area that many tourists would be interested in visiting. This beach is often frequented by people who are interested in hiking, mountain-biking, sun-bathing and diving, and having marked and corrected the paths and trails on this beach means it will provide a reliable source of information for tourists interested in exploring this particular area.

Experience

I thoroughly enjoyed this experience as I found it interesting to use my personal knowledge of my favourite holiday destination in a way that might benefit other people in visiting this beach near Stoja, Pula. From this experience, I would definitely be interested in using OSM to map other areas that I am familiar with, and ultimately, I would then be interested in contributing to mapping in some humanitarian projects once I felt confident enough in my ability with this tool.

Application of Spatial or Crowd-Sourced Initiatives

During this time, I cannot find a way that I might be able to apply spatial or crowd-sourced initiatives in my own work and research for this MA course. However, from my experience with this assignment alone, this is definitely an area I would like to explore more generally, and perhaps to apply to projects in the future. I have dabbled with crowd-sourced initiatives in previous assignments, such as editing articles in Wikipedia. From this experience, I think in the future I would like to explore some more creative crowd-sourced initiatives perhaps related to writing or creating music or art.

I would be interested in using tools like OSM for humanitarian work as I previously mentioned. The potential behind tools like this for the provision of reliable and useful information to those who require it, from the comfort of my home is an opportunity that I feel I could not ignore.

You can check out my OSM edits from my very bare profile here.

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