Technology: Changing Spatial Cognition

Tversky et al.’s article, “Three Spaces of Spatial Cognition” places human cognition of space in an easy to understand framework of 3 understandings; the space of navigation, the space around the body and the space of the body. In GIScience, it is important to understand how human perceive the world we live in, as it determines how we create the GISystems and how they are used to display and modify geographical data.

The article seems to represent the idea of spatial cognition well from the point of view of psychology, but lacks in how new adaptive systems and digital mediums are modifying the ideas within spatial cognition and how humans see the world. For example in my research, the use of an iPad with 3D maps and real time tracking. The use of this technology has caused me to now perceive the world in a vertical and dynamic manner. To elaborate, before I would look at the world and place objects or places in relation to myself (like in the article), but now I place them in relation to other objects and view them as being at dynamic locations, moving as I move. I like to think of it in the context of a video game where game play maps were once set in a player centric way. However, because technology has changed, the game maps have evolved into 3 dimensional dynamic maps with distances and locations that change with the movement of the player, the other characters, and changes in the game play environment itself (no longer N-S-E-W maps).

I feel that the article would have benefited from more computer scientist and geographer input into how GI programs and geographical education can help, hinder or change the perception and way we see our space and place. Furthermore, the addition of AI research ideas into how robots navigate (maps, gps, image navigation, range finders, etc.) would have provided a better understanding of spatial cognition in the digital world of today and not just a psychology interpretation.


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