Posts Tagged ‘GIS’

Scarce influence of technology when implementing the technology

Monday, November 24th, 2014

In this article, Sahay and Robey designed an interpretive research method that enabled a comparative analysis between two neighboring county government organizations that were conveniently in the process of implementing GIS. Both intra and inter-site comparisons were designed. With the results of this study, the formulations of specific inferences in 3 general areas as following are engendered: “the relationship between structure and initiation, deployment and spread of knowledge; the relationship between capability and transition, deployment, and spread of knowledge; and organizational consequences of GIS”. Every set of inferences is used to shape general theoretical arguments concerning the implementation of information systems based on specific comparisons between these two sites.

The King’s (1983) analysis of centralized and decentralized computing supports the first set of inferences: the organization of computing resources is anchored in more fundamental questions of organizational power and control, and the concentration of computing resources in a single unit of an organization is likely to preserve the units’ power over the users of technology. But a distributed deployment of computing resources encourages the spread of knowledge empower the users, and therefore technological capabilities are more likely to expand and spread in an organization where new technology is configured in a distributed rather than a centralized manner. In the study, the organizational structure, that is associated with following aspects of implementation process: initiation, deployment and spread of knowledge, was considered as the major point of contrast among the 2 sites in question. The authors argue that a unified organizational structure enables a better cohesion among the social interpretations of new technology and the establishment of a single vision and therefore information is more widely shared in a unified organization than in a differentiated structure, which allow congruent technological frames of meaning to emerge. Also, the rapid knowledge spreading is being kept due to the deployment of the technology is likely to be restricted to one organizational unit. Therefore the study is consistent with King’s argument… and so on.

As written above, this article compares 2 organizations and their contrasts based on the social context and the process of implementation with pre-existing theories. I find this study very well structured and quite convincing, since the research method used is sensitive to the assumptions underlying social construction and tries to identify the relevant social groups and their technological frames and in addition, they have done an excellent job in explaining the organizational processes of each site in relation to their respective social context and then they point out specific contrasts by comparing them and forming their arguments on the solid grounds of the pre-determined theories.

Therefore, when they underline that technology itself must not be considered as a determinant of organizational impact, since the distinction of each context and therefore different consequences will be produced, based on the interactions of contextual processual elements, and that one must not assume that technology will be understood in the same way by different groups of people, I couldn’t do nothing more than nodding my exhausted head. In an overly simplified manner, it is like assuming that by handing out a set of Lego to children from different cultural and family backgrounds and expects them to come up with the same output by the end of the day. Some may play and create something, some may play but leave as pieces and perhaps some may not show any interest to it at all.

Coming back to the implementation of GIS, I guess one can draw a parallel with the comparison of viewing and using GIS technologies from the perspective of tech savvy generation versus aboriginal population that is often new to such technology and coming from distinct cultural backgrounds. Hence same technology may generate a completely different and /or unexpected consequence from its use, due to the social context/background alone. Therefore one cannot, or rather should not, blame the technology being used for an aftereffect, but rather re-investigate how it should have been approached to respective targeted population/culture.


The survival of the fittest

Monday, October 13th, 2014

I was at first worried about the way I felt when I first read this article, but seeing the postings of other people, I am relieved that I was not the only one who thought that this article is too much. I would like to approach this article in a very different angle, and watch out: This may sound weird and very offensive to some people as well.

First of all, when we are using ArcMap Desktop for instance, we use GIS technology to represents what is in fact a 3D, Earth surface, into a 2D, a digitalized map and it is a “representation” that can be stored and manipulated to be used for different projects, and not necessarily contain any meaning more than that. Yeah of course back in the time, European people did assimilated aboriginal population for the resources and the terrain and all, but in 21st Century, I believe they have more realistic interest than willing to take away anything from aboriginal population, or spend decades in research and finance to assimilate the already-so-minority aboriginal population and their culture because they cannot stand it. Why so much hate? Chill!

Besides, this is just a thought that I got it few years ago when I watched couple of documentary videos concerning aboriginal population and their view on how Western people tend to take their culture away and assimilate them with Western cultures: If these aboriginal people are so into the flow of the nature and that everything should flow naturally according to the nature, how come they are excluding themselves? Why can’t they think that the Westerner people assimilating may be just the way nature is according them to do so? Just like some ants species are making war against other ant species and take over their territory. Isn’t that how the Mother Nature always let things happen?  The survival of the fittest?


Is GIS a Science or a Tool in Planning-Information-Critical Theory

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

So, I had a few problems with the article by Stuart Aitken and Suzanne Michel. First, I felt like the authors danced around the delicate topic of whether GIS operates as a tool or as a science in a way that was detrimental to understanding their article. Second, I wondered about applying Habermas’s theories to the idea of “planning” by making it a consensus built on mutual understanding and arrived at through respectful communication.

But let me back up, first, and give a brief summary of the article. The authors frame their writing as being in response to the troubling idea that GIS is defined solely outside of social constructions that “bolsters a rational-instrument discourse in planning” (17). In contrast, they believe GIS to be a “socially constructed” technology (27) that when used in planning should not impose one person’s agenda on others (24). As such, they worry that some GIS lord sits on high, owns the process of planning, and only allows others to engage with GIS as participants rather than having any ownership of the planning process. Such a process risks defining GIS theoretically in such a manner that makes it an exclusive field of scientific research or practice.

How the author’s defines GIS as a science or tool could potentially be very important in the discussion I describe above because it seems to be wishy-washy in terms of their view of it. On the one hand, they talk about GIS in terms of the planning process and how administrators and others use it to aid in planning of development or other projects. In this sense, it appears to be a tool. However, when the authors get into discussing Habermas, they start to deal with GIS as a field of research that has underlying theories, and to argue for a more inclusive field that includes disparate voices. In this sense, they argue for merging the academic and professional worlds into the world of everyday experience – which I agree with – in order to give average folks ownership over the field of GIS and how it operates.

So, this brings us back to the question that could easily be answered if they define GIS as tool or science. How does planning become an open, inclusive process? If we’re thinking about GIS as a field of research, it’s got unique potential to include a variety of user inputs or applied insights. In many cases, planners and those responsible for making decisions about urban plans do utilize GIS in this manner to gain insight into how better to make their decisions. I mean just look at this video where GIS applications are used in urban planning decisions acroos Addis Ababa. Plus, it’s got some good music.

Yet, I can’t help remember the days I spent as a political reporter and the dread I felt covering county votes on comprehensive land-use plans or even planning commission meetings. These meetings were almost always exclusive to those in charge (Ok, I guess the elected officials did answer in some manner to those who elect them) and subject to the prevailing views of whoever those in power might be. Sometimes, unfortunate homeowners who wanted to build something not accounted for in county plans might have been subjected to some type of harassment by the planning commission or, otherwise, be included if they could justify their new add-on to their jumbo mansion. On really good days, the planning decision might be incredibly divisive (since I worked in Northern Virginia, this mostly only occured when slow growth advocates were pitted against pro-growth folks) and the decision-makers had to come down with some type of politically defensible decision.

But the point is clear. While GIS as a science might have the potential (and in many cases is already) democratic, the planning process in many urban localities is far from it – at least not beyond the sense of being representiationally democratic. So, can GIS bridge this gap? Maybe. But I guess it depends on whether you view it as a science or a just a tool for some government planning board.

Time and GIS

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

We’ve heard how the cyberinfrastructure handles temporal and spatial data separately, but must be developed in such a manner that allows for users/researchers to utilize both sets of variables when interacting with a GISystem. Now Gail Langran and Nicholas Chrisman provide an interesting overview of the topological similarities between time and space, and how best to design a GIS system which can accurately display temporal elements.

I find the authors’ notions of time and its important elements to be a overly simple in a way that helps to lend credence to their subject. In particular, they characterize cartographic time as “punctuated by ‘events,’ or changes” (4). Furthermore, they do a nice job contrasting GIS algorithms based on questions concerning space (what are its neighbors? what are its boundaries? what encloses it? what does it enclose?) with the similar questions one might ask for time (what was the previous state or version? what has changed? what is the periodicity of change? what trends are evident) (7). Such examples help to define this paper not just as a discussion of temporal data, but also of temporal data based closely to its application in geographic space. Such an added dimension can be incredibly important when we begin to think about all of the geographic phenomenon that occur over differing timelines. It’s also an element we should try to remember more in our own research efforts.

I do wonder about the distinction the authors draw between real world time and database time. Since many GIS databases are headed toward real time, streaming data – as was pointed out in previous lectures – why make this distinction? Perhaps I’m not technically inclined enough to understand the importance of the difference in programming or maybe it’s just a matter of how the system might store information. Anyone have thoughts on why real time data can’t be used in a manner that equates it to database time?

Please… Stop working and start conversing!

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

(A reply to An environmentally friendly world, made possible with GIS)

You and I work very hard and we often do not take the time to chill out and talk… Conversation is one of the most important social activities but because of time, we forget how important this social act is for us! We are social animals…

Anyway, on a usual Friday diner, my dad, little brother and I opened a nice bottle of wine (I must say that it was a real discovery. For those of you interested Don Pascual reserve Shiraz Tannat 2007 produced in Uruguay available at SAQ). We were discussing about the week main news as we like to do when we get together. We discussed about the US government’s possibility of helping the car industry with $25 billion (owners went to Washington D.C. with private planes), economic crash, Québec election, etc. Later on, when my mother joined us, we opened a second bottle of wine and we did not leave the table at that time.  Haha! We kept discussing and the point that I want to go is the importance of discussing because we can share our opinions but also share news that hit home everyone single one of us (I do not know if his sentence make sense, hope you got it).

I am not telling new thing here but pay attention to this… My dad mentioned that Google continues of getting crazy. After revolutionized the World Wide Wed search engine by adding search options like scholar, images, news, Google Earth, etc, Google can now helps out epidemiologist predicting pandemic. How? Well, I will ask you a question… When people get sick, what do you think they are typing in Google search tool bar? Hahaha! Exactly! I was almost shocked when I heard that from my dad… I just looked online to prove if this is true and was again really surprised to notice that this information is even published in the NATURE website! Wow! Is it surprising or scary? It becomes really powerful and Google possibilities are unlimited as GIS is also. But if I think on that a little bit… in fact, I am not really surprised of this discovery. I am more surprised of the persons that made the link between flu fluctuation and the amount of Google searches over time. See the graph taken from the Nature website.

GIS, Google, … what’s next? This world becomes really crazy! These technologies performed really well but it is our obligation to use them in the right direction.