Twenty Years of Debate

Posted by sah:

Twenty Years of Progress… to me, this translated to Twenty Years of Debate. While reading Goodchild’s article on the evolution of GIScience, the question that came to mind was really, “Why are we still debating”? GIScience, as it is defined by Goodchild, has evolved as a technology, and perhaps discipline, but also largely as a debate, over the last twenty years—and it would appear that it really has been debate that has dominated this field for its recent history. In class we came up with some interesting reasons as to why the debate may still be raging—legitimacy as a field and science, and thus funding and prestige for practitioners being a large aspect of this. That may be all well and good, albeit a topic for another post, but as a topic of Goodchild’s article, I was a little disappointed.

The debate is surely interesting, but was not, according to the abstract and introduction, what the article was expressed to be about: history AND accomplishments and future advancements. There could have been much more emphasis on the successes and evolution, and not just who deems a success a success. Goodchild’s personal reflections and the institutional accomplishments were most interesting, as well as the final section, Looking to the Future. This encapsulated what I anticipated of the article, and highlighted critical thoughts, most interestingly, the proper education of such a rapidly evolving and increasingly popular [tool, technique, science], and the way it can be used by the public. The proposed advancements raise a lot of questions about how GIS can be applied in the future, and what challenges this may present. In my mind, this could in fact be a reason to continue the debate: will we consider this a tool to be properly taught, or a science to be above the everyday use and understanding of the citizen?

Goodchild, Michael F. “Twenty Years of Progress: GIScience in 2010.” Journal of Spatial Information Science. (2010): 3-20. Print.

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