Michael Goodchild, a geographer and professor at UC Santa Barbara, just published a kind of a survey (pdf file) of citizen-based geography. Volunteered Geographical Information or VGI, Goodchild writes, is going to become increasingly important for geographers, scientists and nations.

He discusses the existence of VGI and citizen science of all kinds in everything from flickr.com to the Christmas Bird count, and he presents an enthusiastic and persuasive argument for the quality and usefulness of non-expert information for expert endeavors.

We all know Google Earth makes for a great Sunday afternoon, but these tools are more than just a good time. With open sourced – wiki mapping and interactive web based geography, our individual input is filling a niche for professional geographical needs, the paper suggests.

Obviously locals are the best experts of their locality. Using that expertise to create detailed descriptions, not only of geology and geography, but of human activity, can only make our geographical science all the better.

So let’s get mapping.

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