Goodchild 1992

In this article we can see that Goodchild is an instrumental figure in GIS who wants to ensure that GIS ends up being a truly valuable contribution to society. The mere fact that a technology is developing rapidly doesn’t insure that people will know how to put it to revolutionary use. An impressive new tool may get its time in the limelight, but if during that brief moment it is merely put to innocuous uses than people may see it as a gimmick, in which case it will soon be forgotten about and overtaken by the next new technology. It reminds me a bit of Tamim Ansary’s book about Islamic civilization, in which he describes a steam engine that was invented in Persia before the one in Britain, but that it was used by a king merely to spin a rotisserie for a mutton banquet. Seeing it from this angle, I can’t be too critical of the fact that I found the paper quite dense and hard to read. When papers are hard to read it’s often because the writer doesn’t fully comprehend the subject matter. That’s totally forgivable in this case because Goodchild is doing his best to envision a new field of science that hasn’t yet been developed at the time of his writing. Despite the difficulty he goes about his task well, arguing for the uniqueness of GIS Science, identifying common questions to make it a cohesive science, and imagining how best it can establish itself among other sciences.


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