Thinking About Scale

I agree with cyberinfrastructure and henry miller in their thinking about how scale is presented in the paper written by Dungan et. al. The authors of this paper primarily provide examples from ecology although they do discuss and provide context from other fields. I too think we must be careful in paying attention to what field we are working in when we think about the term scale.

My first introduction to the concept came from a political ecology class I took, where scale could be used outside of just its connotations in physical space and time. Scale, in this context, could be used to think about government, human communities, academic disciplines and more. Of course, political ecologists might often be more concerned with power relationships and how these relationships flow across different scales than we are in this course.

But, since we are looking at this in the context of GIS, I thought one interesting blog post that helps to make one of the same points as the authors of this article might be worth sharing (the pictures do it for me). Scale, just in a physical sense, does matter incredibly when investigating landscapes or in thinking about maps. As a human geographer, the author’s points about the sample size of scale also holds a lot of implications when thinking what is the appropriate scale to study human subjects or their communities on. As cyberinfrastructure notes, we should be mindful of how scale might adjust our methodologies or observations by paying attention to scale itself. But, I would argue that we also need to think about what discipline we are working in (and its definition or varying usages of scale) when we consider scale shifts and how it might affect our research.


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