Twenty Years of Progress

I found the article by Goodchild to be engaging and easy to read. The article reads more like a reflection than an academic paper, as Goodchild explores the accomplishments, prominent literature, and advancements in the past 20 years of GIS. After reading the Wright 1997 article, this article is especially interesting to reflect on. It seems to address the “tool versus science” debate as closed, naming GIS academic journals with “science” in the title, and naming GIScientists that appear in academic circles. Goodchild names what the author sees as three subdomains of GIScience: the computer, the user and society. Perhaps it’s the computer that’s seen as the tool, not GIS.

A key difference between this article and the Wright 1997 article which was particularly striking to me was the difference in citizen participation in GIS. The Wright article discusses the viewpoints of a few privileged academics on GIS; however, as the Goodchild article clearly shows, GIS has become much less exclusive in the past two decades. In 1997, the prevalence of Open Street Map and Humanitarian OSM could not have been imagined. The “GIS community,” as Wright refers to it, has therefore expanded enormously in the past two decades, beyond just simply academics and high-level technicians. For some users, it may never be more than a tool – but for many others, it’s become a legitimate academic discipline and research focus.



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