, Volume 72, Issue 3–4, pp 173–183 | Cite as

Volunteered geographic information: future research directions motivated by critical, participatory, and feminist GIS

  • Sarah ElwoodEmail author


New interactive web services are dramatically altering the way in which ordinary citizens can create digital spatial data and maps, individually and collectively, to produce new forms of digital spatial data that some term ‘volunteered geographic information’ (VGI). This article examines the early literature on this phenomenon, illustrating its shared propositions that these new technologies are part of shifts in the social and technological processes through which digital spatial data are produced, with accompanying implications for the content and characteristics of geospatial data, and the social and political practices promoted through their use. I illustrate how these debates about VGI conceive of spatial data as socially embedded, and suggest ways in which future research might productively draw upon conceptualizations from participatory, feminist, and critical GIS research that have emerged from similar foundations.


Critical GIS Geo-enabled technologies GIS and Society Geoweb Volunteered geographic information 



I am grateful for the careful reading and incisive comments of the reviewers, who challenged me to strengthen the article in several ways.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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