Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Google Geo Tools: What can they do for knowledge sharing?

Originally posted on Andrew Clappison's Blog

Knowledge means very little if we don't understand its context, and if it does not provide the basis for further knowledge acquisition and development. It is often difficult to know what research exists within a particular geographical setting, culture and community. Today at the AgKnowledge Africa event we learnt that Google Geo tools can help.

Imagine you have just started a research project within an indigenous rural community and you want to know what other research exists, who it was carried out by, and how you can access it. It is likely that you would have to spend hours looking back over published research in the hope that previous work in this community had been done. This can be both difficult and time consuming, and may result in a dead end. Google Earth offers a better alternative by
enabling users to add data and project information by geographical location
for others to track.

However, there is a catch. These tools don't work unless someone has gone to the trouble to upload the information in the first place. However, if we could encourage large research-based organisations to use Google Earth, research would instantly become more context specific, and easily accessible. In turn, ensuring new research does not repeat what has gone before it, and thus expanding the knowledge base in amore progressive way.

You might also like to explore Google Fusion as a way of sharing research data by location, and for more basic geographical information sharing try Google Maps.

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