Google Map Pakistan Event

I may get used to social events as time passes. First of its kind that I've attended for years has been today's event arranged by Google called "Google Mapping Party" at FAST-National University. They started off with an air of unflinching "belief" in revolutionizing technology (of West), then giving "perspective" on how under-developed this country is (no more emphasis is needed now-a-days for excellent repetition that has been taking place for over a century, as if the sole purpose of Man was to do development), and finally with so-called "future directions", exciting ones for youth, to engage in which, they were here for. I excuse if i've rambled.

You can read the details of what the event was about here.

Well. It was all about mapping places. Mapping is what users on internet 'voluntarily' do. You've Google Earth giving satellite pics over which you can develop layers of maps, like the ones you've in geography text-book, yes. Maps can do what finest satellite image may not be able to do, e.g., only map can tell you that this perverted building is a disco club, for satellite photos are mostly taken from the top angle. UGC - its all user-generated content, as i've said. Can be used for hundred of purposes; it helped in 2008 earth quake relief activities, when google on 8th on 9th Oct uploaded 7th Oct and 8th Oct images of earth-quake hit areas, making it clear which areas may have deformed as an aftermath of the quake, speaker said it helped a lot. You can even Geotag YouTube video of your locality. Many businesses are 'benefiting' from these maps. A guy from Silicon was telling how map making by communities has help plant and water various kinds of businesses.

Seems too cool... It shouldn't. A professor from PU raised interesting and often neglected questions pertaining to the 'philosophical implications' of such a technology. We're too excited (youth primarily) to question a Western import, so effectively have we been trained to accept the black gown without coupling it once again with the turban, be it white, black, green or red. His questions which affected the Google consultant to an extent:

1. Who owns the information? Who controls the project?

2. Who can potentially use it?

3. What if the owner shuts off all the user-generated content compiled after much time-consuming labour and struggle?

4. Where would all energy (of general public) that is going to be put in to this project go? It may instead of benefiting the nation go against it, if there's no direction to it.

5. If government is not involvement in this large scale mapping of each street of Pakistan, people are not going to have any back-up.

Faraz, a student at UK, out of spirits of patriotism, along with one another guy, "has been responsible for over 70,000 map edits on Google Map Maker since both started using it in 2008 soon after the application was launched." Recently, he mapped some part of FATA. Soon after his mapping that area was drone-attacked. He stopped mapping further. I read somewhere that in one of history's most bloody carnage that took place in Mumbai back in2008, Google Earth and smart phones played a crucial role in assisting the bloody murders of humanity.

Any argument of security, privacy and the precious time of youth that is going to be invested in mapping activity, like it is consumed by networking, and serious questions about such a technology's societal implication cannot stop a mentality that has no greater ambition or goal in life than to multiply trade, commerce and finance activities. It'd certainly help, as it is hoped, to increase profitability of businesses and provide basis for new businesses to spring up. But at the same time, it'd be totally naive to even suggest that all this can in any way contribute to the happiness of greater "number"; or provide welfare to people.

4 did criticisms:

Ahmad said...

It is a country where everyone likes to get prominent by criticizing others directly or their work. Perhaps criticizing may be the best tool to get more and more reviews, *comments* and more *followers* for some bloggers now.

I am hereby very sorry to read your post where you didn't write one line which tells if this all mapping could be useful to anything at all. A first I would like to say people like you out there that why don't you then make a software to build it yourself instead of relying on others where you find *privacy* concerns?

Little knowledge is dangerous, you probably know as well but knowing is not enough indeed. How much you know about usage of google maps satellite layer? If you see, Wikimapia, OpenSource Maps they all use google satellite layers to draw their maps so it wouldn't be difficult to make your own software to use it. Second thing, a company which gets money out a product, will it later *shutoff* its own source of income? This really made me laugh. Also I hope if they had a presenter then he must have explained because for literates its easily accessible information from Term of Service of the product. Another thing that made me laugh out loudly that drone attack right after his mapping the area.. lols.. that was such a dumb idiotic approach in criticism with false statement! If there will ever be a time machine then you may better want to go back in 2000 and check encarta by microsoft (now also in their live maps) where they have had each and every place on the maps for each country. Also you may want to check The Surveyor of Pakistan who is responsible for mapping of whole country including public accessible and not accessible mapping. Anyone can also buy maps from their outlets or bookshops throughout the country. It becomes so funny when you come to know that google doesn't own satellite imagery and it comes from digital globe and other sources which only have access to civilian level satellites. How would military be dependent upon civilian level satellite imagery which they have allowed to be used in first place and when they have their own live satellite sources!

People like are better off keep their mouth shut than telling people not to do a thing where they already have a choice of yes/no! A volunteer contribution doesn't force anyone to get into!

PS. I know if its moderated then this reply may never go online!!

M. Umer Toor said...

Just a reminder: I've mentioned the usefulness of maps in 3rd para which I heard in the event. Your comment will never be deleted.

Haris Gulzar said...

I just wrote such a long comment but it vanished. I didn't copy it either :-(. Anyways, here it goes again...

@Ahmed: Your concerns are valid brother. The application under discussion has been widely acclaimed and has got many positive reviews and comments. But the concerns mentioned in this post aren't invalid either. These are just questions that would naturally come to the mind of the listener. That was exactly why there was a presenter there, to answer the concerns...

@Umer: I miss my university. I would have definitely attended this presentation had I been in Lahore. My university holds a presentation that is talked about so much, and I missed it :-(. It really felt good to read about it in your post :-)

Umer Toor said...

@ Haris,

Great to know you're FAST; my pleasure :)

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