GIS: Tool or Science? – past, present and future?

As a student who took a couple of GIS courses, it never hit me that some people would argue about defining GIS as system or science. In addition, the fact that the result of such debate may cause huge impact on academia was interesting as well. To be honest, I always thought of GIS as a domain where one uses a particular software to store, manipulate, analyze and visualize spatial or geographical data as well as other type of data involved, and not so much as science.
However, after reading the Wright, Goodchild and Proctor’s article, I started to think that it may not be impossible to consider GIS as science. Then I wondered, what is science exactly? There are several ‘types’ of science, that are divided into natural science, applied science, fundamental science, etc. It was interesting how in Wright’s article the distinction between different branch of science was not covered in detail. I assume that if GIS is to be considered as science, it would probably be part of applied science, where computer science is part of it.
In the past, computer science or neuroscience couldn’t exist until the advancement of technology allowed us to discover and develop it. It seems like GIS is going through a similar process. In the past, GIS was only known by experts in that domain, often geographers. However, nowadays with the wide use of internet and technology that allow people to use GIS and also its implication in other domain such as social and medical for instances, shows that GIS has evolved, evolving and will evolve continuously.
Personally, GIS is a tool rather than science for me so far, however, I wouldn’t be surprised to see myself looking at GIS from different perspective, in near future perhaps.



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