Mapping power: ironic effects of spatial information technology (PLA 54)

Journal (part) article
PDF (321.32 KB)
Published: April 2006
Participatory Learning and Action
Product code:G02956
Source publication:
Participatory Learning and Action 54 – Mapping for change: practice, technologies and communication

Jefferson Fox, Krisnawati Suryanata, Peter Hershock and Albertus Hadi Pramono raise a number of important ethical issues related to the adoption of PGIS technologies in Asia. It is too easy when sharing experiences relating to PGIS practice to focus on success stories, and for practitioners to be hesitant in engaging in critical reflection relating to their own work. These important but little discussed issues include potential pitfalls that projects might face, the concerns surrounding precision, and the ethics of the practice. Despite a number of successes the authors note that the adoption of these tools does not always have a positive desired effect. The authors lay out a number of potential pitfalls. They urge practitioners to develop critical clarity with respect to mapping, based on a comprehensive understanding of both intended and likely unintended consequences of certain actions.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board. See:

Article in: PLA 54. Guest-edited by: Giacomo Rambaldi, Jon Corbett, Michael K. McCall, Rachel Olson, Julius Muchemi, Peter A. Kwaku Kyem, Daniel Wiener, Robert Chambers

Keywords: mapping, Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PGIS), PPGIS, Geographic Information Technologies and Systems, geo-spatial information management tools, sketch maps, participatory 3D models (P3DM), aerial photographs, satellite imagery, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), software.

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Cite this publication

Fox, J., Suryanata, K., Hershock, P. and Pramono, A. (2006). Mapping power: ironic effects of spatial information technology (PLA 54). .
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