On Mark’s (2003) Geographic Information Science: Defining the Field

Being one of the early proponents of GIScience, Mark sets out in this paper to lay out the intellectual scope of the field – what is it? What are its components? Can it be considered a legitimate multidisciplinary field? What is clear from this paper is that there is no consensus yet (or then) on what defines GIScience. Mark presents definitions of Geographic Information Science, Information, and Information Science borrowed from different organizations and as they evolved over time, but does not truly propose a crisp definition to be accepted (or not) as the standard by the community. He then sets out to list the main components of the field, borrowing from Goodchild’s (1992) and the UCGIS’s own lists, defining new headings, and reorganizing components into different topic categories.

From this paper, it seems that Geographic Information Science shares much more similarities with Information Science than the discipline of Geography. Although GIScience and Geography are intricately linked since they “address the same aspects of reality,” GIScience goes beyond the concept of spatiality and looks at aspects of ontology, representation, computation, and cognition, to only name a few, to investigate the properties and behaviour of geographic information, and how it affects people and society at large. It is a much more rounded field than I previously thought and in my eyes unequivocally qualifies as a multidisciplinary one. Studying the human-computer interaction and human cognition of geographic environments, for example, is something that is completely out of the scope of traditional Geography yet is of crucial relevance to better understand the nature of spatial relations and geographic ontology. To me and many others, Geographic Information Science is a legitimate multidisciplinary field that has only been gaining more and more attention since this paper was published.


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