Thoughts on “Some Suggestions…” by Stan Openshaw (1992)

Openshaw’s paper, written in the early 1990s, gives us an interesting glimpse into the early days of GIS. It was very interesting to hear about the problems of then as compared to the problems of today; for instance, he advocates that computers should be utilized more in analyzing GIS data, which is in comparison to today, where computers are ubiquitous in GIS analysis. This paper focuses on greater AI involvement because he believes the combination of non ideal data that GIS provides and the increasing complexities in GIS research make some analysis too complex for people to understand.

Openshaw believes that we must shift our mindsets from prioritizing the conservation of computer energy to the utilization of computer’s “endless” energy. He expands on this mindset by listing some examples of computer modeling, such as genetic optimization, and neurocomputing, that he believes GIS should start to utilize more (and are in popular use today).

A part of this piece which leaped out at me was about how people’s sentiments towards computers have changed over time. At one point, a computer’s use was something that must be conserved, and now computers are used everywhere for everything. Everyone assumes that you are connected to the internet all the time; however, this constant connection is also creating new problems concerning digital privacy. I wonder how this constant connection affects GIS data, is it still “non-ideal”, according to Openshaw? This is hard to answer as he never exactly explains how GIS data is “non-ideal” in the paper.

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