What Social Web Services do Anthropologists need? Part 1: Geolocation Data

There are two geolocation services I think would do a lot to help anthropologists: 1. Information about existing research which pertains to the current region, and 2. data on the presence of researchers currently in a particular location.

The second one already exists, in a way, in Google Latitude, which will tell you where your friends are at a given moment. But my idea would be to be able to see on a map the presence of any member of OAC on a map, so that we could better facilitate real-life collaboration between members of OAC.

The first one would be something like the feature in Google Books which shows you places mentioned in a book on a world map. Sure, one can research data by keyword, but this isn't very helpful when names have been changed to protect a community, and it often is difficult to identify research conducted on the East Coast of Taiwan, as opposed to other regions. Such a map could not be too accurate, for privacy and data-mining concerns, but it would be good to see all research conducted in a particular county, or other regional partition on a map.

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Comment by Derick Fay on June 4, 2009 at 9:54am
Interesting idea - at one point in the late 90s I had a handmade map of existing research that I could identify in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, where I work. It seems to me that to get to the first goal you describe, one would need a bibliographic format that could incorporate geolocation data, and a commitment on the part of publishers / authors to provide this data. Adding the fields to some bibliographic formats (BibTeX for example) is pretty trivial, but getting the data into the records and then into a publicly accessible repository would be more of a challenge.
Comment by Hülya Demirdirek on May 30, 2009 at 6:02am
Kerim, thanks for your very concrete suggestions. I have a work in progress for postsocialist Eurasia I have been building up with my undergraduate students in the last two semesters. It may be presentable enough to be open to public at the end of the summer. Because of that project I have experience of bringing sources together and like the idea of exchanging ideas about various formats of thinking about bringing knowledge and information together.


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