“The World is Not So Easily Mapped Anymore”

Lake’s article is a discussion regarding the gap between the ascendency of GIS within geography/planning and the critique of positivism within geography. Though GIS practitioners have not ignored the issues related to ethics, privacy, accuracy of data, using appropriate methods to avoid “evil outcomes” etc., Lake argues that it only serves as “internal correctiveness” that does not remedy the positivist assumptions underlying GIS (S as system). While I agree that GIS has the ability to support the status quo by burying decisions and reinforcing power relations under the technological wall of algorithms, I think it’s equally important to be able to build these models to be able to talk about the data, and the choices made to produce the map etc. At the very least, we have a tangible artifact that can elicit a conversation between GIS practitioners and social theorist to challenge the interwoven dominant norms.

In traditional GI systems, the practitioner can easily become disconnected with the individuals that comprise of the data points. This separation implies a external vantage point, a god’s eye view where feminist geographers have critiqued because we cannot disassociate ourselves from the world we live in. Perhaps an alternative for the practitioner to reconnect with the analysis, the people, and social relations involved is through technologies such as AR where the user is physically situated to the location of study. This can provide an increased egocentric view that wasn’t previously available before. (though there are critiques with the virtual information superimposed in the AR system as well…). What methods are available to better integrate qualitative data within GIS systems? If this can be done, then observations can keep their subjectivity to a certain extent within the model compared to a purely quantitative categorization of objectified “others”.


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