Research Challenges in Geovisualization (MacEachren 2013)

This paper delves into GeoVisualization, which at face value seems like a simple topic (In the sense there is nothing quite as universally recognized as a world map), though actually is very multifaceted with many considerations to be taken.

My first thoughts in reading how¬†GeoVisualization was a combination of Virtual Environments, ViSC, and other fields all with their own governing scientific bodies, was how this field fits very well into GIScience in its existential problems. Honestly though, I feel the author best captures the value of GeoVisualization in: a) It’s huge relevance (80% of all data being linked to geography/xy-coordinates/postal codes), and b) How visualization essentially is the transformation of data into knowledge. In thinking of Big Data, GeoVis seems to be needed as a tool more so now than ever to actually make sense of this data, and most importantly represent it outside of the purely data-driven science community, and into the greater public.

In this sense of conveying knowledge to as many people as possible in the most appropriate way, I feel the author does a good job at listing the many considerations needed to avoid misrepresenting data, and conveying false information. Linking GeoVis back to the essential issues in GIScience (i.e. issues of scale, spatial autocorrelation, etc.) really brought into the GIScience realm for me. Furthermore, having been published in 2013 (a peak year for GeoVis in the web 2.0),¬† it’s great to see recognition in how maps have moved from having to embody both the database and be a form of media to present it, while today we are more so given a highly interactive GUI to interact with a whole dataset and explore/query it for our own purpose. In this train of thought, I wonder what new forms of GeoVisualization will come from technologies like VR, AR, and the classic hologram globe that has been hypothesised in the earliest of sci-fi and spy movies. Wondering about what these technologies will be used for, as well as the considerations we need to take in using them to accurately represent geographic information are obviously being thought of in papers like this, and hopefully we stay ahead of the curve.




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