Open Street map
What I noticed while looking at areas that it was really out of date, as it was listing business’s that had been closed down for a number of years, usually small family run business’s while in contrast to this multi-national corporations were listed and more surprising companies who have dubious business practices (Dominos, McDonalds, Insomnia) had all their new branches listed giving the impression that they were placing them there themselves to gain some free publicity, in this context open street maps just becomes another tool for corporations to utilise in the colonisation of communities. To test the performance (how long it would take to get additions listed) and integrity of app (would they list controversial institutions) I listed some sites of Magdalen Laundries and Industrial Schools in Dublin, while closed down building had been reviewed and listed none of these have yet been added, giving the impression that a form of censorship exists within open street map
The level 3 squares would not load for a while, no way of enlarging tiles which became a problem with round houses being hard to distinguish from trees and other features.
While there was some clarity on ipad, this would have been more difficult on a phone, which due to size defeats the object using mobile devices, would be more suited to computer monitors to avoid mistakes, especially with small circular buildings, although they would be in a circular formation to denote a village, but even on an ipad could easily be another feature.
Although the tasks synched with no failure messages coming up and occasional messages of well done, the whole experience had the feel of a game, or that game design had been incorporated into the app, giving the impression of detachment from its purpose, apart from random messages interspersed about residents living below poverty line and mapping would help NGO’s get support to areas, there was no information or connection to how the mapping actually had an impact on communities or how it helped them.
The whole structure of the app had a feeling of that it was a gamification of life and through this process of getting involved and contributing separated the person from the reality of world problems or placed them into the context of playing a game and to believe it was contributing to physical world change (the inclusion of levels and well done messages)
While Mapswipe could be slow at tomes, during changing of levels and loading tiles or loading parts of tiles and then having to wait a couple of minutes for the rest to fully load. HOT on the other hand was a total disappointment, especially after taking the time to go through all the tutorials to find out that when I went to start mapping with it that it just did not work properly or more to the point it presented nothing but problems the whole way through, from selecting projects that would take several minutes to load or in some cases not load at all, but then when I would start to map I would be redirected to log on to open street map, all of this should have been integrated into its design to make it clear running instead of having to go through several obstacles to start each project.
Eventually when I would get points on map none would work as it kept crashing on ipad or just would not load. My initial experience of HOT was just bad as all that worked was zoom and nothing else which just resulted in the waste of a couple of hours, without actually being able to do anything. This happened every time I logged on and when I would get a tile loaded it kept crashing or wouldn’t allow me to save also it would log me out of open street map and I would not be able to get back to tile I started on.
With newer project i.e. Nigeria would not allow mapping would just come up with a blank task and screen.
End result was that I worked on several projects and several tasks, although the ones that operated for a while all crashed or just logged me out of open street map after 18 -22 edits, while on some tiles where I would map all the buildings it did not register them and on others it would not let me put an outline around buildings.
I found HOT really disappointing in that after taking the time to go through all the tutorials and back and forward through the app to familiarise myself with the controls and technical processes about how it actually worked, and in doing so what I thought would fully prepare me for the physical part of mapping.
While HOT provides information on how to map although not in a straightforward way due to having to go through separate entities mapswipe, open street map I found that none of this is coherent as a whole as everything with HOT seems to be independent entities all separate from each other but not coming together, the whole design does not integrate the different elements when it should, instead of having dynamics within the interfaces it does the opposite and just falls apart, especially during the actual mapping for example when working on a tile, it just stops and asks to log back into open street map. Also the navigation in opening the projects is disjointed as sometimes it shows a world map rather than a specific region, similar when choosing a tile, some come up as blank, while others may only have one road through a dense forest with no other buildings or structures.
Due to serious flaws in HOT design especially with navigation and use of tools or more so their inability to define roads, buildings and structures due to moving around is that my real concerns is that the abysmal function ability of app negates any contributions and worse still sends wrong information by default of the system, which would then have a negative impact on the communities through wrong information being mapped. My real fear is that due to the apps severe operation or its lack of ability to match human interface with data is that it would map non-existent roads and cause more problems than it aimed to alleviate.
What I learned from experience was that HOT was probably the most ineffective tool ever encountered and incapable of functioning on any level and when used in conjunction with open street map just created a negative experience which alienates the user from the actual projects they are aiming to aid through mapping, from the perspective that the user becomes engrossed with trying to get the tool to operate properly and they lose sight of and forget about the actual goals of the projects. Due to problems with saving and the validity of information generated uploaded leaves me questioning how I actually participated at due to manoeuvrability within the app controls creates the possibly of generating bad or misleading data which could have the implication of causing more harm than actual good. There doesn’t appear to be a mechanism installed in app that checks the validity of data mapped although I got warning messages about untagged lines, even though I was mapping buildings at the time.
From my bad experience of the user ability of HOT, it has provided a an extremely dim view of any potential benefits of using crowdsourcing in any future works, while I initially viewed HOT as being beneficial (until using it) to disaster hit areas or for famine relief, I now consider it a total waste of time and even dangerous in its implications due to its inability to work properly and more seriously its potential for creating misinformation. I even got a message back from some other user thanking me for my interest in contributing to the project while also saying that I had deleted part of a road from one of the maps, although I doubt the map would allow this.
Also while HOT gives the impression that people can actually aid or provide a valuable contribution to different causes through mapping, I now get the feeling it is providing false hope or creating a bubble in that people actually think they are actually helping famine relief through using an app (and one that does not work) when it really has a detaching or nullifying effect from the cause that they are aiming to help.
I found the operational problems with HOT deride any potential benefits in being involved with the projects as from the start of attempting to map it just becomes a struggle to get the app to work, which led me to question why was I even involved in mapping and what is the benefits of going through this process, will these contributions really help people on the ground in famine hit areas.
I can’t see myself ever using any of the above tools after all the stress they caused especially HOT, the bad experience I encountered has put me off even considering crowdsourcing in any future work. What I did get from the project was to be more selective with tools especially one that promise the world but deliver nothing and if a tool doe not work smoothly not to waste any time or effort with them but instead put them into the recycle bin.
Open Street map