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News coverage, digital activism, and geographical saliency: A case study of refugee camps and volunteered geographical information.

A new interesting article has been published in PLoS One. 2018 Nov 8;13(11):e0206825. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0206825. eCollection 2018. and titled:

News coverage, digital activism, and geographical saliency: A case study of refugee camps and volunteered geographical information.

Authors of this article are:

Mahabir R, Croitoru A, Crooks A,, Agouris P, Stefanidis A.

A summary of the article is shown below:

The last several decades have witnessed a shift in the way in which news is delivered and consumed by users. With the growth and advancements in mobile technologies, the Internet, and Web 2.0 technologies users are not only consumers of news, but also producers of online content. This has resulted in a novel and highly participatory cyber-physical news awareness ecosystem that fosters digital activism, in which volunteers contribute content to online communities. While studies have examined the various components of this news awareness ecosystem, little is still known about how news media coverage (and in particular digital media) impacts digital activism. In order to address this challenge and develop a greater understanding of it, this paper focuses on a specific form of digital activism, that of the production of digital geographical content through crowdsourcing efforts. Using refugee camps from around the world as a case study, we examine the relationship between news coverage (via Google news), search trends (via Google trends) and user edit contribution patterns in OpenStreetMap, a prominent geospatial data crowdsourcing platform. In addition, we compare and contrast these patterns with user edit patterns in Wikipedia, a well-known non-geospatial crowdsourcing platform. Using Google news and Google trends to derive a measure of thematic public awareness, our findings indicate that digital activism bursts tend to take place during periods of sustained build-up of public awareness deficit or surplus. These findings are in line with two prominent mass communication theories: agenda setting and corrective action, and suggest the emergence of a novel stimulus-awareness-activism framework in today’s participatory digital age. Moreover, these findings further complement existing research examining the motivational factors that drive users to contribute to online collaborative communities. This paper brings us one step closer to understanding the underlying mechanisms that drive digital activism in particular in the geospatial domain.

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