Thoughts on Neogeography

I have several concerns about neogeography as it’s defined and described in the “Web Mapping 2.0” article. The quote from Turner portrays neogeography as “fun” and “about sharing location information with friends and visitors, helping shape context, and conveying understanding through knowledge of place.” However, I’d push back on both of these notions. First of all, why would geography have to be fun? Making an academic pursuit more inherently enjoyable could run the risk of eroding the rigor of the field. This could come off as me being “elitist,” and I don’t want geography to be inaccessible to anyone who’d like to use it. However, if anyone (academic or layperson) finds geography not “fun” enough to pursue, then¬†they shouldn’t pursue it; creating a snazzy “neogeography” for them to utilize would almost necessarily make it easier and less rigorous, diluting and weakening their results.¬†Furthermore, can’t it already be fun? I think it is! With regards to the applications of neogeography, can’t geography/GIS already be used for “sharing location information… helping shape context, and conveying understanding through knowledge of place?” For example, the paper “Extending the Qualitative Capabilities of GIS” by Jung and Elwood thoroughly discusses how GIS can be used to display meaning and context, and it was written in 2010. Why come up with a “neogeography” to complete these tasks, when existing GIS technologies can do the same thing as is or with slight modifications? Perhaps I’m too caught up in the current paradigm of what GIS is/should be; regardless, however, we should ask ourselves if going through the effort of creating, classifying, or distinguishing a new kind of geography from the status quo is necessary or appropriate.

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