Radical changes in Time

The paper by Langran et. al. made me realize how little has been achieved in representing the temporal aspect through maps. Digital maps have tried portraying the changes in some phenomenon over time through the use of accessories like time sliders. But this only changes the overlay information on a static base map. The lack of tighter time-map integration makes it impossible to capture the cause and effects in a more holistic way.

Though GIScience emerged as a merger of spatial sciences with technology, it embraced the concept of temporarily static maps to represent data.

The foremost thought that comes to my mind is that a radical change is required in how we represent space-time. The whole concept of maps needs to be redesigned to break the triangle of theme, location and time. Though this may be a very strong statement without much backing, I think with redesign of representation and choosing the right data structure, maps can be made to represent both location and time together, keeping the theme fixed. This will be akin to perceiving the world as a state machine, with a set of states and actions that causes state changes (but the set of states and actions may be potentially infinite and not necessarily be known a priori). The concept of state machine addresses the “root” of the problem, i.e. different snapshots represent the states, but not the events that caused the changes. This however, requires tremendous efforts and change of mind-set coupled with embracing of technology in redesigning the thought process.

– Dipto Sarkar

Comments are closed.