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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tales from the Web Literacy Files: Geo Edition

Last week I sent a GIS news site a tip on a story since it was the sort of thing it might cover. The topic was in fact covered in the next issue. I was pleased to help, but disappointed to see no suggestion of where the publication heard about the story. Many media sites, from one person blogs to CNN, use H/T ("hat tip") or via ("via @adenas") to give credit to those who pass along such tips. There's even a movement to formalize this behavior with a Curator's Code (Wired UK).

Early this week I saw a link on Twitter for an educational geography resource on tornadoes. The tweet commended the analysis, so I was curious to read it. It turns out, the content was republished from Wikipedia. That's acceptable. However, the attribution was incomplete. There was no way a reader would know the content was not original, nor was the Creative Commons license used on Wikipedia respected. (Here's a blog post on how to do Creative Commons attribution by Molly Kleinman for those who need to read up on the topic.)

Finally, just yesterday a GIS news site pointed me to a new website with resources to encourage students and those in the job market to consider a career in geospatial technology. Those behind the website had the best of intentions and wanted to offer the content under a Creative Commons license. However, instead of stating that intention with a link to a specific license, the site developer simply put a link to the Creative Commons organization. (Here's the page about what the different licenses offer.)

To be clear, the websites and content I'm discussing were published by professionals in our field, not students. Somehow these individuals, and likely many of their peers, have not learned or taught themselves about these Web literacy and etiquette issues. I'm hoping renewed interest in all things open, both in and outside of geospatial technologies, will afford more opportunities to highlight best practices in these areas.

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