One of the fastest growing forms of downloadable Internet-based data involves digital map layers that contain spatial features suitable for analysis with a geographic information system (GIS). The availability of networked spatial data has fostered tremendous growth in the importance and use of location-based services, and it is now commonplace to find a wide variety of map-based applications and datasets on the Internet for unrestricted download. Despite the rapid growth in spatial data resources, there has been scant attention paid to their currency, lineage, locational accuracy, completeness, and overall usefulness. This paper discusses the quality of Internet spatial data by taking an extreme case to evaluate both the availability and usefulness of spatial data posted on publicly accessible Web sites. The case study examined is Tibet, which is selected purposively because it lies at or beyond the fringes of the network society. The issue examined concerns the rehabilitation potential of locatable Buddhist monasteries. In undertaking this assessment, the efficacy of the current Internet as a source of useful spatial data is brought into question.
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