AAG 2015 CFP: OpenStreetMap Studies: Research Perspectives on a Decade of OSM

Call for papers: OpenStreetMap Studies: Research Perspectives on a Decade of OSM
Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting
April 21-25, 2015
Chicago, Illinois

Alan McConchie, University of British Columbia
Muki Haklay, University College London

OSM Interface, 2006 (source: Nick Black)
OSM Interface, 2006 (source: Nick Black)

Since its founding in 2004, OpenStreetMap has grown into one of the pre-eminent open collaborative geographic knowledge projects online, growth that has been tracked closely by the emerging research domains of Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) and the Geospatial Web. Due to OSM’s size (now boasting well over 1 million users), and its relative accessibility (open source code, public mailing lists, freely-downloadable data), OSM has been the preferred case study for many VGI researchers. This is in contrast to arguably more successful VGI projects, such as Google Map Maker, Waze, Facebook places and others, which are closed and researchers cannot access their data easily. Recently, however, there has been growing awareness that OSM and VGI are too often conflated, and that OSM should not be taken to stand in for all VGI. To this end, Muki Haklay suggested that the breadth and complexity of research into OSM may warrant a potential subfield “OpenStreetMap Studies”

Taking the 10th birthday of OSM as a starting point, this session will survey the state of geographical research on OpenStreetMap. This session seeks research demonstrating a variety of approaches, with particular interest in papers that investigate (1) how OSM has changed over the last 10 years, (2) how OSM research has also evolved over that time and how it compares to other crowdsourced systems, and (3) how OSM research differs from VGI research.

Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Comparisons between OSM and other open knowledge initiatives such as Wikipedia or other VGI projects like Google Map Maker.
  • Studies of data quality and completeness in OSM data, and consideration if these studies are possible in closed systems such as Google Map Maker or only possible with OSM.
  • OSM and its role in crisis mapping and disaster response and the role of other crowdsourced systems.
  • Novel applications of OSM data used in other fields, such as software algorithms, computer vision, traffic modeling, etc.
  • Social histories and social geographies of OSM and its community of contributors, and comparison to other, open or closed VGI projects.
  • Feminist and critical approaches to the societal impacts of OSM, the epistemological assumptions of its data structures, and the demographics of its community.
  • Political economic approaches to OSM, and open source software and open geodata more generally.

The session is supported by the European COST Energic (COST Action IC1203) network: European Network Exploring Research into Geospatial Information Crowdsourcing.

Please email abstracts of 250 words or less to Alan (alan.mcconchie@geog.ubc.ca) and Muki (m.haklay@ucl.ac.uk) before October 31st, 2014. All accepted papers will need to register for the AAG conference at AAG.org.


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