I’ve been saying this quite a bit online, in workshops and now in interviews. Putting a map project takes a plan and a community. Every day I teach people strategies for map plans. The first question I ask is: why a map?
You can’t just throw a map at it! Shiny, sexy maps and visualizations are great storytelling and activating devices. True. The route to technology for good of maps or data takes basic project management. While we can all hope to be on Upworthy and be the next meme. I truly believe that behind every one of these Internet stories, videos and pictures comes grit. I’ve been writing on the Ushahidi blog and in the wiki all about how to be successful with map projects. Plus, this year, I co-lead a large online map project for the Kenyan Elections. As my colleague, Jake Porway of Datakind, wrote this great article on “You can’t just Hack your Way to Social Change…” Map projects fall into this same category.
There are major ethical issues with just throwing a map at it. I’ll write another day on that huge topic. In the meantime, see my Data Ethics in Research Google Hangout.
Conrad Chau interviewed me for his Cambridge MBA podcast on how maps level the playing field, but need a plan. I advised his listeners to stop only reading TechCrunch, buy a plane ticket to the continents of Africa or Asia and look for the unusual suspects to invest and develop.
— Conrad Chua (@ConradChua16) June 20, 2013