Archive for September, 2017

GIS: Tool, Science, or the new norm? (Goodchild 2010)

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

I enjoyed Goodchild’s article as it served more as an almost nostalgic reflection on GIS’s progress over the years since its beginning. Goodchild’s debate on whether GIS is a tool or science quite interesting as well, as he states chronologically in the 80’s the focus on measuring error, shifted to a focus on uncertainty in GIS applications in the 90’s. This to me reflects how GIS, being so linked to computers software so early on, can easily be confused to BE the computer/software versus the science/scientific reasoning that goes into setting the parameters and finding appropriate uses for it in the realm of science. Personally, in working with GIS I find this reasoning behind which stats technique, or projection, etc. to be more and more of a scientific judgement, which cannot be made by a computer with problems of scale and the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem, to name a few. Goodchild hints at GIS being multidisciplinary in itself in contrasting geodetic science, cartography being an artistic science, and photogrammetry being largely engineering/problem solving. I feel this too leaves lots of room for people not familiar with GIS to focus on one, while ignoring the other applications of it and the fact that GIS today is often used as an umbrella term encompassing all of these very multidisciplinary areas into one subject.

As for Goodchild’s predictions for the GI-future, I agree with him in that neogeography and VGI will be the ‘future’ of GIS, highlighting the increased use of user-generated information and being more open to the general public (either passively or actively). I feel it’s this increased participation in GIS over the years, from a very non-user friendly interface, to being incorporated into so many mobile apps that makes the future for GIS quite bright, even if it doesn’t particularly hold to it’s ‘hard science’ background/early aspirations. I find his comments on ‘knowing where everything is, all of the time’ eerily current with the privacy concerns we brought up in lecture regarding never being able to shut off our phones, and although we have not fully reached this statement (though we are getting close), I could see this intensifying in the near future, as well as possibly coupling this with biometric data such as step count, heartrate, and even health from increased prevalence in wearable technology. Geography (as defined by Goodchild as relating to the earth or close to it) is also challenged by new uses of GIS, such as in it’s neuroscience applications (where earth’s topology is replaced with that of a brain) or modern AR, where the space could simply mean a table or a sandbox. Whether or not these are things to look forward to will be interesting to debate, and I can only wonder what the next 20 year report on GIS will look like.

-MercatorGator ?

Thoughts on Goodchild (2010)

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

This paper by Goodchild (2010) is an assessment of the (then) current state of the field of GISciences. Goodchild talks about the beginnings of the field of GISciences, research accomplishments and current agendas, and future predictions for the field. I often struggle to develop a conceptual framework for GIS, so I was happy to see that this paper did just that. By defining the field as the intersection between computers, society, and humans, I feel that I have a much clearer understanding of what GIScience actually is and the disciplines that it was born out of. Although, I feel that it’s worth noting that this conceptual framework doesn’t explicitly mention anything spatial…

This paper left me thinking about where GIScience fits within existing bodies of geographic thought. Goodchild’s many references to Tobler reminded me of geography’s “quantitative revolution” in the mid 50s. It seems to me that GIScience as it is today is only possible because of previous efforts to develop the field of spatial science, which is based on rigorous statistical techniques and scientific ways of theorizing. I was then thinking more broadly about theoretical understandings of space, and discussions of absolute vs. relative space. Yes, dimensions of space can be measured, but space can also be experienced, tied to significant symbolic meaning, and transformed by the perspective of the individual. GIScience fits very well within absolute theories of space, but how can it be adapted to answer questions about relative space?

  • janejacobs