Wang and Armstrong (2009): A theoretical approach to the use of cyberinfrastructure in geographical analysis (or: how to alienate readers)

Reading Wang and Armstrong (2009) was no easy feat, and I have to mirror some of the thoughts from previous blog posts on Wang et al (2013): this article is extremely dense and difficult to read for someone that is not knowledgeable on Cyber Infrastructure. This paper lacked a proper introduction with a definition of CI, as well as some background information on parallel processing. Instead, Wang and Armstrong (2009) delve right into the jargon, in order to “to elucidate a theoretical approach that is developed to guide parallel processing of computationally intensive geographical analyses” (2): (i.e. use parallel processing (CI) techniques to more efficiently process and analyze geographical data requiring high computation power). Wang and Armstrong (2009) use two case studies, one on IDW and the other on the G*i (d) spatial statistic to address issues of logic, generality and compatibility in parallel processing for geographical analyses.

While reading this I, didn’t feel as though I had enough background knowledge to comment on the processes or their meanings in an intelligent way (maybe that’s the point?). However, I did wonder whether or not this paper makes the case for CI/CyberGIS as a Geographic Information Science, rather than a potential geographical application of Information/Computer Science. Firstly, as CyberGIS is not mentioned in the paper at all, I have to draw on the Wang et al (2013) paper to link CI to CyberGIS. That being said,I tend to think that it lies somewhere in between. The authors touch on some core geographical concepts like granularity, spatial interpolation and spatial domains, and explore new methods for their computation/analysis. The methods are rooted in computer science rather than geography, but provide a greater understanding of the processes related to these core geographical concepts, which in my mind enhances the science.

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