Transboundary E-waste

Mapping the controversy on the web.

A controversy map typically starts with a statement from which to build a corpus of documents related to the issue to be mapped. The statement used to initiate this controversy map is:

"E-waste is exported largely for the same reason manufacturing jobs have been sent overseas: lower labor costs and fewer regulatory burdens."

(USA Today, E-Waste in Developing Countries Endangers Environment, Locals 1 August 2014)

The above statement was elicited using a procedure from a group of approximately 127 members of the the Solve the E-waste Problem (StEP) membership. Though the single statement above may seem a paltry place from which to begin mapping the controversy around transboundary shipments of electronic waste (e-waste), our approach quickly lead to a very substantial corpus of material to map.

Once we had the statement from which to begin we divided it into a series of Google search queries based on keywords in the statement as follows:From these search queries we built a corpus of approximately 1200 URLs. Each URL was then classified into a meta-actor type (Business, Government, Journalism, Not for profit, QUANGO, Scientific Community, and Other). Each URL was then run through the Digital Methods Initiative "Text Ripper" to harvest all non-html text from each page. This resulted in a corpus of over 3 million words.

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