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Title: Mapping information wealth and poverty: the geography of gazetteers
Authors: Graham, M.
De Sabbata, Stefano
First Published: Jun-2015
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Citation: Environment and Planning A, 2015, 47(6), pp. 1254-1264
Abstract: Gazetteers are dictionaries of geographic place-names that have important implications far beyond the worlds of geographers and cartographers. By containing ‘definitive’ lists of places, gazetteers have the ontological power to define what will and will not be geocoded and represented in databases, maps, search engines, and ultimately our spatial understandings of place. This paper focuses attention on GeoNames, which is the world's largest freely available and widely used gazetteer. We illustrate how content in GeoNames is characterised by highly uneven spatial distributions. There are dense clusters of place-names in some parts of the world and a relative absence of geographic content in others. These patterns are related not just to the wealth and population size of a country, but also to its policies on Internet access and open data. The paper then traces some of the specific implications of this information inequality: showing how biases in gazetteers are propagated in a variety of geographic meaning-making.
DOI Link: 10.1177/0308518X15594899
ISSN: 0308-518X
eISSN: 1472-3409
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2015. Deposited with reference to the publisher’s archiving policy available on the SHERPA/RoMEO website.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Geography

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