What is it about?

We show that contributions to the world's largest question-and-answer website for programming - Stack Overflow - come from a limited number of large metropolitan areas, mainly in North America, West Europe and South Asia. Most other places from the Global South have, so far, not been able to substantially contribute to this important platform of the digital knowledge economy.

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Why is it important?

This article shows that contributions in the digital space do have a specific geography. While platforms such as Stack Overflow make programming knowledge freely accessible from all over the world, the network map reveals that users from only a limited number of places are actively taking part in the exchange of such knowledge. Visualising digital information flows is important to understand the geographies of the digital knowledge economy.

Perspectives

I hope that this article helps to consider digital knowledge platforms such as Stack Overflow as more than just a source of information. Instead, such platforms allow people from different places to share their programming questions and expertise. They, thus have a crucial role in helping individuals to gain programming know-how, and the platform-contributions provide a unique perspective on the geographical distribution of highly specialised forms of digital human capital.

Fabian Braesemann

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This page is a summary of: Global networks in collaborative programming, Regional Studies Regional Science, January 2019, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/21681376.2019.1588155.
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