Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Mapping Information Wealth and Poverty: The Geography of Gazetteers

Graham, M. and De Sabbata, S. 2016. Mapping Information Wealth and Poverty: The Geography of Gazetteers. Environment and Planning A., Forthcoming

15 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2015 Last revised: 30 Apr 2015

Mark Graham

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Stefano De Sabbata

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Date Written: March 31, 2015

Abstract

Gazetteers are dictionaries of geographic placenames 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 won’t 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 placenames in some parts of the world and a relative absence of geographic content in others. These patterns are related to not just the wealth and population-size of a country, but also 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.

Suggested Citation

Graham, Mark and De Sabbata, Stefano, Mapping Information Wealth and Poverty: The Geography of Gazetteers (March 31, 2015). Graham, M. and De Sabbata, S. 2016. Mapping Information Wealth and Poverty: The Geography of Gazetteers. Environment and Planning A., Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2587746

Mark Graham (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.geospace.co.uk

Stefano De Sabbata

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

Paper statistics

Downloads
386
Rank
63,188
Abstract Views
1,900