Rolling Your Own: Cultural Production, Personality, and Pedagogy In/Through DIY GIS

Authors: Robert Underwood*, University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Cultural Geography
Keywords: gis foss human personality pedagogy
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Council Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The rise of ubiquitous internet and the open source software movement were taken by some as promising developments toward democratization of cultural production. But effective oligopoly in mobile operating systems and application ecosystems, proliferation of digital rights management systems, privatization of network infrastructure, and concentration in the software marketplace, along with other related trends, have rendered the networks and tools we use for computing and communication more and more opaque. Nowhere is this more evident than in academia, wherein de facto monopolies exist in software, notably in word processing and GIS. Here I aim to offer a critical perspective on these circumstances with emphasis on alternatives to proprietary GIS through a discussion of my own GIS toolchain, particularly a program I have developed for generating maps from vector data using only a few open source libraries for the C programming language. From the beginning, this project has been motivated largely by my desire to generate maps to be used in my teaching, both in K-12 and at the university. This discussion draws upon my experience of building a DIY mapping toolchain that is idiosyncratic, personal, and, in some sense, at least for me, an act of resistance against monopoly and monoculture in cultural production.

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