An article on another android application (that has for some reason been deleted from the Google Play Store since publication) appeared today in Fast Company. I have contacted the publisher regarding my tiny complaint that I was not given enough time (only about 24 hours) to respond to their request for comment, because I certainly would have. (It is Fast Company Magazine after all, and they are indeed faster than I, for sure. So no big deal.)
So, since it was written about, here are a few impressions the article may leave that I would like to modulate a little bit. I was never personally concerned with the “Gunfree Geo Marker” app that had been online for two years or so. First, I found it a little flattering. Second, I found it very interesting for a number of other reasons, and in fact have a paper on this topic “in press”, (ie that should be published soon.) Something often misread in past reporting on the Gun Geo Marker is that it is somehow anti-second amendment. Quite to the contrary it is a pro second amendment project, one that hopes to help us avoid gun related tragedies and encourage responsible gun use so as to preserve respect for the second amendment. It isn’t very much in terms of its usefulness as a tool, but it does have some small usefulness, and that is all we have, at least until such time as the congress is able to pass some reasonable and effective laws such as a universal background check. So, here is a screenshot of Google Play page for the curious (and former?) Gunfree Geo marker highlighted in the Fast Company article:
The following text is from the Gunfree Geo Marker Google Play page:
Hey gun owners, are you tired of being in fear of having your home, or work place marked on a map for the world to see just because you own a firearm? Are you tired of being treated worse than a child molester because you exercise your 2nd Amendment right? ... Well here is an app for you. This interactive map allows you to map gun free locations to include work places, schools and private residences. You will be able to annotate such information such as if there are any valuable items located inside, alarm systems, cctv systems, etc. Plus you can add additional information like how many children live at the residence, the best avenue of approach without being seen and much more.
(https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.secondamendment.gunfreegeomarker, accessed Feb 7th 2014.)
There is a key difference between the Gun Geo Marker and its strange other that separates them. Gun Geo Marker is not and never was a doxing app, as in, an app for sharing people’s addresses or personal information. Although the makers of “Gunfree” state otherwise (see article), the Gun Geo Marker simply has never had, or ever needed address fields that could be viewed as encouraging harassing types of behavior. Addresses are in any case completely unnecessary to the “locals only” context of the Gun Geo Marker to begin with, simply because local people are there already, and don’t need an actual street address. Further, Gun Geo Marker is used to mark any place – with or without street address – where gun safety might be an issue. Gun Geo Marker is not about opponents, but rather is a safety tool for people no matter what side of the great gun debate they may fall. By contrast, Gunfree Geo Marker apparently was an actual doxing app (or became that with updates… apparently featuring my home address in particular. See the article.) The Gun Geo Marker is very different; it is a crowd sourcing/information sharing app that lets neighbors communicate anonymously. It has many features that limit its geographic and temporal scope in order to balance privacy concerns and ensure “locals only” communication.
There is a lot of careful balancing between privacy concerns and very legitimate community concerns that are baked into the Gun Geo Marker software. I think Gun Geo Marker gets that balance as close to correct and responsible as can be accomplished, even as I remain interested in suggestions for improving it. Certainly because it only displays local data based on current GPS coordinates, the Gun Geo Marker simply can not be used to marshal a whole internet-full of extremists (in this case, absolutist gun nuts) as a means to harass and intimidate anyone. All the while, harassment seems to have been the fundamental purpose of the “Gunfree Geo Marker”, meaning that any analytically careful comparison will discover much more difference than similarity between the two. That the author(s) of “Gunfree” propose any such equivalency as an excuse for their bad behavior (see article) is pure sophistry.
In any case, you can read up about all of the actual features at the gungeomarker.org web site and make your own decision.
Bottom line: A good article by Sarah Kessler, Fast Company Magazine, March 27th 2015.
“DO GUN OWNERS NEED AN APP TO TELL THEM WHERE ANTI-GUN-VIOLENCE ACTIVISTS LIVE?“