UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mapping mashups : participation, collaboration and critique on the world wide web McConchie, Alan Lowe


“Mashups” are web-based maps that intermix user-created data with information gathered from multiple online sources. As part of the wave of “Web 2.0” technologies, mashups represent a shift toward distributed authoring and sharing of Internet content, complicating traditional modes of knowledge production. Mashups originated in the open source “hacker” movement and are now associated with the term “neogeography,” used to describe the practice of amateur mapmaking online. In this thesis I ask whether mashups facilitate a cartography that is more accessible and democratic, studying the ways in which mashup authors create alternative community or personal cartographies while remaining dependent on existing power structures for data and resources. I illuminate these issues through a series of examples, such as: mashups that render personal memories about places, maps created by activist groups to counter dominant representations of geography by governments or corporations, and websites that facilitate the collaborative creation and sharing of spatial knowledge within community groups. Contrasting these case studies with traditional paper cartography and GIS, as well as the professional online mapping technologies of the Geospatial Web (or GeoWeb), I explore how mashups attempt to represent personal, subjective, overlapping and contradictory perceptions of space and place. While enthusiastic claims about the ability of mashups to wrest mapmaking from state and corporate hands are currently overstated, I conclude that mashups do in fact provide new ways of collaboratively representing space whose implications are still to be determined.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International