O’Sullivan – Geographical Information Science: Critical GIS

I found this paper quite interesting and I found that it gave an adequate summary of the prime factors constituting the strands of debate in Critical GIS. I found the discussion over the acceptance of critical theory in the GI Science community quite surprising, with the seemingly flippant responses to the Ground Truth collection that was presented in the article. The book was published in the mid 90s, which seems to collide with a time period in which original GIS papers and tools were being developed along with a triumphalist fanfare over the new technology in its wake.
The following discussions of PGIS, qualitative GIS and privacy seem to take a more nuanced acceptance within the GI Science community. I assume that there was enough time for them to accept these critiques, but also it could have to do with the pace of technology at the time. On one hand, the ignored ciricisms may have had tangible effects by the early 2000s which could have been potential criticisms feel more tangible. There’s also that these new criticisms engaged directly with the technology. It seems that conversations about qualitative and public-driven data collection could only have properly have taken place within a context in which the technology would allow for it. While Kwan lamented the lack of social perspectives in GIS in 2004, my own perspective shows that these conversations are more visible today. Conversations critical of GIS practices have been commonplace within this class, which may point toward Schuurman and Kwan’s remark of a ‘new era of socially and politically engaged GIScience’.

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