Significance of Geovisualization

October 27th, 2014

A visual representation of data has always been known to be very helpful to exhibit information to the viewers and non-expert users in any field of study, particularly for study requiring data analysis. For instance, a map is an excellent example of a visual representation of the world or part of the world itself. In the Kraak’s article, the emphasis was on the usefulness of geovisualization and it is also argued that other graphic representations aid in simulating visual thought process, using the Minard’s map of champagne de Russie 1812-1813 with some geovisualization techniques.

 

In this posting I’d like to mention a couple of other examples that underline the importance of visualization to explore data, as well as the advantages from it. Graphic visualization can often reveal patterns that are not necessarily seen on tables and charts. For instance, a thematic map is known for its ability of displaying a connection between specific themes and geographic areas. This type of visualization highlights on spatial variations of one or a small number of geographic distributions. An example of thematic map can be found in the following link:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_RpkOLpWs7KA/TFOt-UruAvI/AAAAAAAAAG8/4U1xBqz_d38/s1600/cartogram.jpg

Another visualization tool is an application from ESRI, called Story Map Swipe. It is a tool used to create the story map more interactive and one can use this Swipe tool back and forth to compare one map to another very easily and quickly, therefore the impression one receives may differ or accentuated. An example of the Swipe can be found in the following link:

http://tmappsevents.esri.com/website/swipe-sandy-custom/

 

These types of visualization of data will definitely stimulate the visual thought process of any viewer and user compare to represent same data as a simple table or charts. Furthermore it may lead to a hint for new hypothesis or even an innovative solution to a problem.

 

 

Geovisualization and Power

October 27th, 2014

The paper that we read this week (Geovisualization Illustrated, by Kraak) was quite fascinating. I enjoyed how the author used one main map then branched off from there to illustrate geovisualization. An interesting idea that was talked about in this paper was how, by visualizing geographic data differently, one could gain a better and more nuanced understanding of the topic at hand. This is a fascinating idea since maps can be very persuasive and influential. Knowing that geographic data can be displayed in many different ways, and that one method of visualization doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story, is important to know. It is important because this power (of manipulating geographic data) can be both positive and negative depending on how it is used. Using novel geovisualization techniques to further advance scientific knowledge is paramount. Using geovisualization to obfuscate data or mislead people (ex. for political gain) should be recognized and discouraged (“With great power comes great responsibility…”).

This aforementioned theme relates somewhat to behavioral/cognitive geography. Taking into account how an individual (or group) might perceive or interact with a certain type of geovisualization over another could be an important area of research. As an example, a tourist map of a city that is engaging and stimulating would be more beneficial than one that is drab or unappealing. Having mobile applications for tourists that can display geographic data in different/customizable ways could be another intriguing use. I think it’s fascinating that a topic (geovisualization) that normally doesn’t garner a lot of attention from laypeople is actually highly applicable.

-Benny

 

 

Geovisualization

October 27th, 2014

“Geovisualization illustrated” discusses alternatives to static maps, such as the “immersive and highly interactive virtual environments” which can be used to present spatial data (Kraak, 2003: 390). These are particularly useful in exploring the data and learning from it, offering more insight than traditional maps. Reading this paper, I was reminded of the first class we had in GEOG506, where we discussed what was or wasn’t considered a map (using a graph of migration flows). It now seems clear that there are quasi-endless ways of visualizing spatial data, to put forward different attributes.

Geovisualization could be a solution to the problem of representing temporal data, because of its ability to include time as a variable, especially in the 3D model. It would then be possible to visualize changes through time on one layer, which is not possible in commercial GIS software.

I would argue that the geovisualization models shown in this paper are not very user-friendly and require some explanation to be understood. However, an interactive version with sliders and rotating axes would be much easier to comprehend. In this case, geovisualization would be a tool limited to those with access to computers and an Internet connection. Can 3D maps be made clearer on paper?

-IMC

Geovisualization and GIScience

October 27th, 2014

Kraak (2002) Geovisualization illustrated

“Geography and GIS are more than just maps” is a common phrase heard in undergraduate geography courses around the world. Indeed, many discussions in GEOG 506 revolve around this issue. Breaking down conventional beliefs such as GIS as contemporary cartography, framing GIS as a tool, or opening and unpacking the ‘black box’ are essential themes in the seminar. On this train of thought Kraak (2002) seeks to broaden the possibilities of geospatial datasets beyond the 2D map and statistical output. Instead of an end product, he envisions that diverse geovisualization forms will lead to geospatial exploration, hypotheses building, and ultimately the creation of new knowledge. Following the observation of Finke et al. (1992), Kraak notes that creative discoveries are often a product of unconventional thinking (2002: 391).

While this view is agreeable to most readers, creating environments that facilitate unconventional thinking is not a straightforward task. More often than not, practicality stifles creative conditions. This can largely be attributed to the need to meet demands in the job market, as outgoing students seek to improve their employability. As a result, pedagogical practice tends to deviate from the creative ideal. Conventional practices are taught to the majority of students, cementing their realm of possibilities. In GEOG 201 we focus on learning ArcGIS, the de facto industry standard. When we are equipped with the same tools—and often the same subject matter—we immediately reduce the prospects of diversity. Additionally, due to logistics of undergraduate coursework, students rarely get to see let alone create geovisualizations beyond 2D maps.

There is a reason why most users regard GIS as a tool as opposed to a science. Although there is an incredible amount of abstraction, endless uncertainty, and a discipline wrought with ontological debates, for most this goes unseen. Introductions to GIS claim that it is more, but for students that never reach the level of analysis found in GEOG 506, GIS is merely a tool to create pretty maps. The question is – should this be the norm?

- BCBD

 

A Whole New World

October 27th, 2014

This week’s Kraak article was a rather pleasant read. I thought that framing the article around a specific example of Charles Minard’s famous map of Napoleon’s March on Moscow to better illustrate the topic of geovisualization was an intelligent choice. This article was well structured and the flow of ideas made for easy comprehension of the subject; from introduction of what a geovisualization is, to what Minard’s map depicted, to different types of maps/geovisualization etc. What struck me about this article was the sheer amount of alternative ways of presenting the same information and how those different presentations can drastically affect the way the information is retained. For example, how slider maps can both aid in the presentation of temporal information (versus a static map) but also affect how the data is perceived (i.e. slider moves at even time frames, however the original route involved stops that could last up to a month). Furthermore, the different applications of geovisualization demonstrated how traditional cartographic rules or traditional static maps can be restricting in portraying information. Take for example the 3D model depicted in Figure 5, in this portrayal if information shows not only the aforementioned month long stop that a similar map (figure 4) did not. Overall I found this article very eye-opening as it showed that geovisualization is not just colours and making maps look pretty – it’s a dynamic science that can help us draw conclusions and retrieve more information than we ever thought possible.

Until next time,

Nod

Geovisualization

October 27th, 2014

Kraak’s article titled “Geovisualization illustrated” discusses the concept of geovisualization. What I thought was particularly interesting was the idea that the visual representation of data is exploratory, and can facilitate the development of research questions and the generation of knowledge. In this way, data becomes the center of scientific exploration- it is what guides and drives research, placing the inductive approach to science at the forefront. The power of geovisualiztion is in the multitude of ways it allows us to better understand data. The limits of geovisulization are in bounds to creativity of the researcher and the computational tools used showcase data. I think Big Data will encourage improvements in geocomputational methods and techniques needed to process large amounts of information into digestible, readable and informative images. To limit the “creative challenges” greater collaboration will be needed.
Another exciting aspect about geovisualization that was not discussed in the article, is the importance it plays in the translation and diffusion of large amount of information to the public. The challenge of geovisulization then becomes how to effectively and accurately illustrate concepts or ideas through images.
A side note that I think is worth mentioning is that the standards used in geovisualization are characteristics of cultural and cartographic norms used in the West. Learning about ways space and time are visually represented by other cultures might enable us to gain a deeper understanding of our data and more effectively communicate ideas across cultures using maps and images.
Fan_G

Do computers know us better than we know ourselves?

October 20th, 2014

“No biological or environmental constraints fully determine human thought and action, but neither does any schema or cognitive structure” (Amadeo & Golledge, 2003: 141)

Environmental Perception and Behavioural Geography is concerned with the “behavioral issues that ultimately, through their implications, contribute to long-term knowledge about durable human–environment relations” (Amadeo & Golledge, 2003: 134). This field of geography emerged with the desire of understanding human decision-making in spatial contexts. Initial research was flawed because of its assumptions that individuals had “limited but prominent” goals, but new works aim to comprehend actual persons.

EPBG reminds me of the lecture on agent based modelling. With a refined knowledge of human behaviour, will it be possible to use a GIS to create accurate models of humans?

On the one hand, I am tempted to say that it would be impossible. Much like indigenous knowledge, human behaviour is too unique and versatile to be compatible with a GIS. One of the critiques of EPBG was in fact the “constrained structures in the elicitation of ‘data’” (Amadeo & Golledge, 2003: 142). Because human experience can’t be constrained or understood by binary categories (so far), I hope it will remain outside the realm of science and modeling.

On the other hand, in a world where our location is constantly being recorded through our smart phones, and our interests and preferences can be identified by looking through our Internet history, there seems to be no limit to the data available on humans and our behaviour. If our gender, age, sexual identity, location, can be identified through an analysis of tweets, is there a limit to the power of technology? Do computers actually know us better than we know ourselves?

- IMC

Spaces and Who We Are

October 20th, 2014

Humans are considered to be biological entities and there has been a shift from studying  aggregations of human events to considering humans as individual biological entities and studying them as such. This reminds me of the agent based model of Emergent Group Level Navigation: An Agent Based Evaluation of Movement Patterns in a Folivorous Primate (Bonnell et al., 2013) in which each agent makes both independent and collective decisions and the unit of measurement is at the agent scale. Though the findings were aggregated the lowest common denominator was the monkey unit.

The notion that spaces and places have the power to evoke an emotional response, and that this can then speak to the individuals intended activity is a salient idea. Geography is concerned with processes that happen over space, and these response though cognitive in nature are no exception. One might argue however, that such things are difficult to measure.

This concept of environmental perception  and behavioural geography does not seem related in any way to GIScience. While I read through the article I struggled to find any semblance of links between the two topics. Upon further reflection however, the emergence of the domain of environmental perception and behaviour geography would require a development in GIScience techniques and capabilities to speak to this growing research interest in how the activities of an individual is formed by the perception of the environment in which they find themselves. Though I do not have an answer, I’m left with the following question: In what ways would analysis and data type option need to adapt to represent the dynamics of the EPBG specialization within a GIScience context?

- Othello

 

October 20th, 2014

EeePeeBeeGee

I’m not sure if this is going off on a tangent but I though while reading this article that it would be really cool to somehow map people’s perceptions of their environments.  For example, it could be really neat to see how people perceive public space or how soldiers react to adverse situations.  Surely there would be a lot of necessary technology to do such a thing but the idea is one I found interesting.  There are so many applications where it would be useful to know how people perceiving and reacting to their environment without actually having to ask them.

To me it also seems that this article relates somewhat to what we’ve discussed in previous classes about big data and the harvesting of information off of social media websites.  Those applications seem to take try to understand how humans perceive certain phenomena based on what they express while EPBG I believe is trying to gain an understanding of how humans understand a phenomena though not necessarily how they outwardly express that understanding.

GoOutside

 

We are where we live

October 20th, 2014

Up to now several topics such as public participation GIS, Cyberinfrastructure, Agents, Social Network Analysis methods, etc. were discussed. These topics are pretty much about manipulating geospatial data, since that is what we do in GIScience, I think. And when it comes down to the data, humans are all about providing data. There are many use of such data and because of its enormous quantity, one can collect and retrace back or even create the target’s profile based on tweets, purchases made, photos, friends, used search keywords, etc. Therefore one can use software to estimate the living setting of the user quite accurately using such information available in the web. As for geospatial data, specifically, one can collect, manipulate and sometime visualize the data as a map and one may believe such digitalized representation of a space is in fact identical to the actual space, and it was possible because it is mere a space.

However, in EPBG, a space is not just a space. In my understanding, EPBG argues that there are such a strong relationship with one’s behavior and the way one perceive the surrounding, and not the surrounding itself. It was quite intriguing, because in that sense, if two individuals who are located in completely different location may behave quite similarly if their way of processing the external information for the different settings are equivalent and vice versa.

So far in GIScience, humans are all about providing data. Whereas in EPBG, it is human, specifically the brain, that collects the information from the past experiences, memories, etc. from a specific space and re-create a place, therefore each space representing a unique place for each individual and that leads to the specific behavior.

This reminds me of a quote “You are what you buy”

And make me think that in fact, we are not only what we buy/eat, but we are also where we live. Since there is a clear distinction with people living in North America settings, like us, versus Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Asia, in terms of level of education, daily life style, diet, language, etc. Furthermore, even within the North America, depending on which regions distinguishes us and one can observe such distinctions even within a city like Montreal. And there comes the issue of MAUP.

Long story short, it is not whether we, as humans, our behaviors are shaped by the environment per se nor these shape the environment, but it is rather bidirectional: we perceive the environment the way we have been affected by, therefore both are intrinsically correlated.

This is such a headache because psychology is not my strongest field. Nevertheless, I find this subject quite absorbing.

 

 

Are we more than the sum of our data?

October 20th, 2014

Amedeo & Golledge – Environmental Perception and Behavioural Geography

Although the subject matter is neutralized by Amedeo & Golledge’s academic tone, the underlying theme of this article is very unsettling. Being able to predict another’s behaviour is a strategic victory. If one can expect a certain response from an individual based on environmental (social and physical) conditions, their behaviour becomes an exploitable resource. For emergency scenarios this could drastically change the outcome of natural disasters. Imagine being able to predict the evacuation of a city following an earthquake. One may be able to predict the likely location of survivors based on escape route. For an individual example, consider how this may aid missing persons cases. There are many situations in which Environmental Perception and Behavioural Geography (EPBG) could positively affect society.

Unfortunately, there may be equally as many insidious applications of EPBG research. These applications may be less exciting but will become more pervasive in daily life. In GEOG 307 one of our assignments entailed finding the ideal location for a high-end audio store in Montreal. By using the generic profile of audiophiles (Male, late 20s-40s, annual income: 80 000+) and combining this knowledge with census data, we were able to find the hypothetical best intersection for this store. This application of geo-marketing was fixed in place as were the targeted demographic. Now imagine the possibilities of knowing your target individual’s path between home and work, their spending habits, and their favourite places to hangout, etc. This has and will continue to transform advertising and marketing campaigns. Now, through data fusion, you may come to learn what political sentiments they hold, the religion they practice, their sexual orientation, etc. I believe most people would find the disclosure of latter list of attributes unsettling to those other than their family and friends. We recognize that these are potentially vulnerable attributes about ourselves and we certainly do not want to be exploited through these traits. However, the reality is we are increasingly revealing these personal qualities directly, indirectly, voluntarily, and involuntarily. We are becoming more vulnerable to corporations and governments. I for one think we need to revaluate the information we share on the web and continue the debate about the ethical treatment of our personal data.

Amedeo & Golledge write that it is an important question to ask what constitutes an environment. I think it’s more important to ask what constitutes an individual.

-BCBD

E.P.B.G & G.I.Science

October 20th, 2014

The article we read this week, “Environmental Perception and Behavioral Geography” by Amedeo & Golledge, discussed the development and significance of the specialization of behavioral geography. While not immediately obvious, there are some similarities between this field of study and that of G.I.Science. As the authors discussed on page 137, Environmental Perception and Behavioral Geography’s (E.P.B.G.) beginning was influenced by a changing focus of study from large scale human events over extensive spaces to a smaller, more individual, scale which emphasized the importance of interaction between humans and their environment. After this shift in scale of study, traditional issues were revisited and more questions were asked. An important tenant of G.I.Science is that of scale. Many ideas or perceptions can be changed when something is examined at a different scale. Whether one is looking at issues of scale in terms of a river network (G.I.S) or a shift in a focus of study (E.P.B.G.), knowing how to manage and maximize the positive consequences of scale is important for both fields.

An interesting idea that was discussed in the article was what constituted an environment. Since E.P.B.G. is heavily focused upon environment and how humans interact with and experience it, having a good idea of what it constitutes is a good idea. As was noted, two broad categories of environment (built and non-built) emerged, which greatly expanded the field of study. Similar to G.I.Science, as was discussed in class, there can often be complications that arise when people have different definitions of an object or idea (ex. when does a river start or stop). Speaking of which, I felt that this paper glossed over the idea of what makes an environment and that the couple of sentences devoted to it were unfulfilling. A more comprehensive definition would have made the overall paper clearer, but perhaps a more comprehensive definition is not obtainable.

-Benny

 

Environmental Perception and Behavioural Geography

October 19th, 2014

“Environmental Perception and Behavioural Geography” (EPBG) by Amedeo & Golledge discuss the emergence and importance of the EPBG to better understand person-environment relations. The understanding of person-environment relations requires external information about both humans, human interaction and place. Within this larger topic, spatial social network (SSN) analyses gain relevance by providing a map of relationships among individuals and an assessment of the link between individuals and their locations. SSN provides a representation of social ties and affinity to place, while EPBG offers ways to understand how the spatial social structure influence the environment or how the environment shapes spatial social structures (or both).
In a similar way Big Data, particularly spatial data, enables the analysis of large amounts of information about how people engage with the environment, which could contribute to our understanding of human-environment relations (if data is properly selected for).
An issue I find particularly interesting which was not brought up by the article, is how humans engage with their virtual environment. Increasingly, people identify themselves with online personas, which can range from a mere representation of oneself online to the creation of avatars in a virtual reality. In this context, the notion of environment as a space may lose some of its importance in favor of a conceptualization of the environment as a place. The relationships people engage in in this social sphere has yet to be fully explored or analyzed and will present EPBG with interesting opportunities and challenges.
Fan_G

Indigenous G.I.S.

October 14th, 2014

This was definitely the first time I have been exposed to the idea of Indigenous G.I.S and the author raised some thought-provoking points. I found, however, that it was a little challenging to follow some of the arguments that he was attempting to make, but that was most probably due to my bias coming from a technoscientist background. To wit, the author argued that there were positive aspects of not inscribing or writing down knowledge, an idea that is fairly unfamiliar to me. After reading the article and understanding where the author is coming from I can see his point of view but since “we are steeped in the ways of the society that produced them”, I’m not sure if I’m 100% convinced of his rationale.

Another curious point that was raised was how G.I.S. could potentially be toxic to human diversity. G.I.S. traditionally follows Western standards about geographical space and knowledge and the author argues that this can be subversive towards indigenous cultures. The author also argues that the way in which geographic data is represented (using maps, G.I.S., etc.) is inherently destabilizing towards indigenous culture. This is not a point that is often raised so it was fascinating to read. Whether it is destabilizing or not (I’m not fully convinced), I feel that it is important that this debate takes place since protecting the cultural integrity of minorities should be an important goal for everybody.

-Benny

 

Rundstrum

October 13th, 2014

I found this article to be very interesting.  Now in my final class of a GIS minor, it is difficult to imagine a GIS that does not portray geographical features as objects which are meant to be manipulated by humans.  A paper I recently skimmed through looked at creating an ontology of hydrological features with Cree people in northern Quebec.  It was an interesting read mostly because of how difficult it appeared to be to formalize a worldview into a computer readable ontology.   It seems one of the recurring themes of this class is that GIS does not handle “fuzzy” or non-concrete views of the world very well.

GoOutside

The survival of the fittest

October 13th, 2014

I was at first worried about the way I felt when I first read this article, but seeing the postings of other people, I am relieved that I was not the only one who thought that this article is too much. I would like to approach this article in a very different angle, and watch out: This may sound weird and very offensive to some people as well.

First of all, when we are using ArcMap Desktop for instance, we use GIS technology to represents what is in fact a 3D, Earth surface, into a 2D, a digitalized map and it is a “representation” that can be stored and manipulated to be used for different projects, and not necessarily contain any meaning more than that. Yeah of course back in the time, European people did assimilated aboriginal population for the resources and the terrain and all, but in 21st Century, I believe they have more realistic interest than willing to take away anything from aboriginal population, or spend decades in research and finance to assimilate the already-so-minority aboriginal population and their culture because they cannot stand it. Why so much hate? Chill!

Besides, this is just a thought that I got it few years ago when I watched couple of documentary videos concerning aboriginal population and their view on how Western people tend to take their culture away and assimilate them with Western cultures: If these aboriginal people are so into the flow of the nature and that everything should flow naturally according to the nature, how come they are excluding themselves? Why can’t they think that the Westerner people assimilating may be just the way nature is according them to do so? Just like some ants species are making war against other ant species and take over their territory. Isn’t that how the Mother Nature always let things happen?  The survival of the fittest?

 

Different epistemologies

October 13th, 2014

I really enjoyed reading Rostrum’s article titled “GIS, indigenous peoples, and epistemological diversity”. It explores how the use of GIS in cross-cultural contexts, imports with it, a set of ideas and understandings about how the world works, which can intentionally or unwittingly undermine or displace other epistemologies.
I find his ideas particularly interesting in the context of the development of international GIS systems, and the establishments of standards that such systems require. How do you incorporate diverse understandings about the concepts of space and time and elements in nature into a common, standardized system? Is such an endeavour even worthwhile?
I share Rostrum’s concerns over assimilation of peoples and their ideas, but I also see the value in a comprehensive, cross-cultural GIS.
Fundamentally, I think it falls on GIS users, developers and advocates to be actively mindful of such issues, and to expand GIS systems to better account for the diversity of epistemologies (while also recognizing that the structures of GIS may be fundamentally incompatible with some ways of knowing).

Rostrum’s argument echoes concerns over neocolonial tendencies in other academics disciplines, notably demography, cartography, sociology and international development. An active effort on the part of individuals, practitioners and academics is needed to address such issues.

Fan_G

GIS, Indigenous Peoples, and Epistemological Diversity

October 13th, 2014

The Rundstrum reading, “GIS, Indigenous Peoples, and Epistemological Diversity”, describes the incompatibility between the epistemological systems of GIS and indigenous peoples. ESRI’s moto, “Geography Organizing Our World”, assumes that everyone has the same vision of the world and that they can be rationalized into one model, although this is not the case. The author brings up many conflicts, mainly the absence in GIS of relatedness, non-empirical knowledge, the linear/cyclical understanding of time and the “democratization” of knowledge. The conclusion is that GIS cannot incorporate indigenous “notions” without diminishing them.

Although I agree that GIS is limited to a specific Western interpretation of the world, I feel that the author doesn’t offer a solution to the problem. Does GIS’ inability to capture all beliefs and understandings make it invalid? Should indigenous affairs be disregarded in GIS?

The main problem seems to be the government and Bureau of Indian Affairs imposing a set of norms and values to the native peoples through the use of GIS, but not the GIS itself. There is no doubt that there is a great level of injustice and inequality against natives, but I think attacking the GIS technology is shifting attention away from the assimilationist governments.

On another note, the author offers a description of GIS I feel I can finally ascribe to, as a technoscience “where technology has become the embodiment of science and its precepts”, although we don’t seem to appreciate it in the same way.

-IMC

To Be Honest…

October 13th, 2014

I’m just going to put it out there: I think this article is rather ridiculous. I know that sounds a little harsh but it’s just the way I feel. Who cares if non-empirical methods and facts can’t be put into ‘western’ or ‘European’ GIS applications? Just because the software and field of GIS the way it is exists doesn’t mean that now it is required to view the world in the same way. If indigenous populations feel that their world view is incompatible with the current GIS softwares – then they can go about developing one that does shows the relationships they see in the environment. In my opinion, the fundamentals of GIS are computers and hard facts – it’s zeros and ones – how would you even start to put fluffy non-empirical evidence into software program? It’s just ridiculous that someone is even bringing this up. It even says that “indigenous peoples often use other sources of information about the world in concert with an empirically perceived reality to make their knowledge statements. In other words, indigenous peoples find those evil empirical facts kind of useful. Yeah – that’s right Rundstorm – the Western view on things isn’t so bad now is it? He also makes a point about technological advances and how we must ‘keep up’ with it. I disagree – I find paper maps still extremely useful and use them every day. Books and other ‘old school’ methods of taking down information are also still being used all the time. Now I know I’m coming down on this author a little hard – I get it – he’s just trying to show that we should think about the methods we present and collect data most often isn’t necessarily the only way or the right way (the whole argument about epistemology). It just really angers me that he considers indigenous peoples as the only ones who view the world in a non empirical way and that he presents the ‘western’ view of the world as evil. The stereotyping was just upsetting. Honestly, he could have stated his arguments in a less infuriating way.

Until next time,

Nod

Cultural Sensitivities in GIScience

October 13th, 2014

Technologies and ways of thinking vary widely between cultures. While I celebrate the great opportunities offered by the innovation of GIS I have never until now considered the implication of western-based geographic knowledge practices in other cultural context. Rundstrom raises crucial questions by reviewing the ways in which Eurocentric GIS is an assimilating technology with relation to North American indigenous groups.

The way geographical knowledge is stored and shared in Euro-North American realms differs from that of indigenous peoples. The danger arises when these differences have a negative impact on indigenous geographic knowledge systems, or when Euro-centric technologies such as explicit map objects or GIS are used as tools of exploitation.

From our (Eurocentric) point of view – “GIS is [...] touted as a democratizing technology that can empower anyone in society”. We marvel at the ability for information to be shared for use by all. This however makes indigenous knowledge tangible and accessible. Indigenous societies bestow more care in the decision of who can receive geographic knowledge, and even store knowledge through oral communication and performance-based modes that are foreign to us. For them, information is intentionally shared in circles of interdependency rather than full democracy in complex systems far different from the context within which GIS western-based GIS was created. There is a clear incompatibility that must be addressed when we don’t stop to ask the question: “Who knows what people do with information?”.

How then do we respond? I am unsure of how GIS can evolve to remain effective while better preserving and upholding the culture of others. While I there is a clear need for deep self-reflection concerning the assimilating force that GIS holds today, our ways of thinking also hold value and cannot be entirely sacrificed.

- Othello