I responded with a comment on PSFK to a post on PSFK about a new service “Stumblesafely” that basically maps out crime areas in Washington, with the purpose of making it safer for people to get home at night. Although I have no intention or wish to bash the project, which I see as serving a noble cause – I did wonder about some of the consequences of this kind of info-mapping. Since I was dealing with a related issue during my own final project at CIID, I wanted to start a conversation about some of the unintended consequences of free information;
From the post: “I think there is a problem with this kind of mapping – mainly that you risk stigmatizing certain neighborhoods and areas, driving down property values, increasing fear levels, spurring people with resources to move out of the area and generally, you risk compounding the problem rather than solving it. While information should certainly be free, we – as creators of that information – also need to be aware that releasing any kind of information into the world can have unintended consequences and work at coming up with solutions to counter them. Sometimes I feel it is too easy to just throw stuff out there under the “information should be free, let somebody else sort it out” banner.”
PSFK decided that my thoughts were relevant enough to include as a post. My own final project deals exactly with the reverse – trying to de-stigmatize low-income areas and areas with high quotas of immigrant populations, especially in a time where the debate on immigrants has reached alarming levels of radicalization. I will write a full post on my finals in the near future. Thanks to PSFK for listening to my ramblings.