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A Geographic Perspective on Geograph Term Use

The concept of place is a complex one that is not well described with simple latitude-longitude coordinate pairs. It is more than simply location, in that it also says something about the nature of features that create a sense of place. It can rely on intangible, subjective, and sometimes contradictory characteristics that traditionally are not well represented in digital data sets. Volunteered, or community contributed, geographic information such as the personal descriptions of place available in Geograph gives us access to new and multiple perspectives. These may reflect a range of viewpoints and enable us to begin to consider alternative notions of place as we attempt to describe it more effectively.

Consequently, Ross Purves and Alistair Edwardes have been using Geograph as a source of descriptions of place in their research at the University of Zurich. Their ultimate objective involves improving information retrieval by automatically adding indexing terms to geo-referenced digital photographs that relate to popular notions of place, such as "mountain," "remote," or "hiking." Their work involves validating previous studies and forming new perspectives by comparing Geograph to existing efforts to describe place and analyzing term co-occurrence in the geograph descriptions (Edwardes and Purves 2007).

A popular approach in the literature involves identifying basic levels or scene types through which place is described. Such summative ...

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