Geography Education
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Why Microsoft's 'Avoid Ghetto App' Takes Us the Wrong Way

Why Microsoft's 'Avoid Ghetto App' Takes Us the Wrong Way | Geography Education |

"Whether we like to admit it or not, we avoid certain parts of the city — especially on foot, especially at night and especially if we are carrying something valuable. When friends visit, particularly women, we advise them on safer routes or offer to pick them up in a car if an area is dangerous. We keep an eye out when we move about the city, looking for signs of trouble. This is called 'street smarts,' and it is practiced not just by middle-class white folks but also by low-income residents, people of color and tough guys. Staying in one piece in many communities involves knowing which blocks to avoid."


This article (but even more, this topic) is a useful way way to discuss the experiential nature of place and that place meaning will differ from person to person.  Given that, a one-size-fits-all application of geospatial technologies to navigate the urban environment is going to be problematic.   


Via Ana Valdés
Dale Fraza's comment, January 30, 2012 2:17 PM
As if people needed any more tools to avoid awareness of the plight of inner-city people.....
Jen Smith's comment, January 30, 2012 2:19 PM
While in some ways I can forsee this sort of App as something incredibly useful, at the same time it's afully racist and assuming that something bad -will- happen by going through areas marked as 'ghettos'. They do exist, I'm not saying otherwise, it's fact that there are poor areas that are stricken with crime and that does make certain people nervous. Yet, all it makes me think about is the widening gap between the rich and the poor, as if saying that "we are better off, therefore we want to avoid you out" out of some ridiculous fear of those who are not the same. The superiority factor that stems from old ideas that are still lasting into today. Made worse by technology advancing so far that we can be told that we can avoid an unsafe area. I agree with the article that people already do this, but actually having an app on your smart phone for avoiding an "unsafe" area as if every area outside of it is "safe", it seems a little ridiculous.
Hi Dee's comment, January 30, 2012 2:26 PM
Labeling parts of a city as "safe" and "unsafe" only makes the problem of crime worse. More and more people will clearly avoid the "unsafe" areas and crime will continue to flourish.
Geography Education
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