The Nature of Progress in GIS (Sheppard 1995)

Eric Sheppard has truly provided an unbiased viewpoint on the various sentiments towards GIS. I feel the split between techies and individuals is not as profound as it must have been in 1995, due to the more universal acceptance of computing technology in the 21st century. I was very pleased with Sheppard’s point concerning the social context of the mercator projection; it really helped reconcile some of the issues I have with understanding the broader context of the development of GIScience and how little technical progressions contribute to a greater overall social process.

I do feel that too much consideration for this overall social process can be counterproductive from a technological standpoint. I find the idea of GIS as a limited way of representing space to be a baseless critique, as I take issue with the idea that a technology that is not all-inclusive must be limiting or inconsiderate. I also believe that inequity of access to GIS tech is not a sufficient reason to halt progress, but it is certainly an important consideration in examining the societal conditions shaping GIS. I would also like to say that I do recognize my positionality as a member of the sect of society that exclusively benefits from GIS technology and enjoys the privilege of relatively unrestricted access to data created by a world I am a product of.

The last of Sheppard’s points that I enjoyed was the danger of data driven analysis. Many times I have been discouraged by the lack of availability of data in determining the direction of a project. I can see the effect this data driven analysis may have on smaller institutions and the private sector employing GIS, but I feel larger government institutions and the leaders of the GIS and GIScience filed are equipped to circumvent this issue.






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