Posts Tagged ‘lake’

Critical GIS: Ethics, a Ghost of the Past

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Robert Lake’s article “Planning and applied geography…” take the idea to have transcending ethics between field to the extreme. I believe that the type of ethics, or extent, is unique to a field of study and common and should not be pushed into areas where grey zones outnumber the black and white. This article seems to try and force the idea of practitioners as absent minded of ethics, void of the knowledge of technology’s impact on society. Maybe it is my “laissez-faire” attitude or ideals of “I do not care what you believe in, but just do not push it on me ” that is speaking, but I do not believe practitioners have forgotten ethics and their applicability to structuring research in the digital realm. I would argue that it is how the ethics are applied that has changed and is causing this misunderstanding. For instance equal access to GIS data is not truly flawed, as inferred by Lake, as this data can be altered by user and re-published as a modified version, i.e. multiple users can use the data and modify it for themselves to create multiple ethical data sets, that correspond to the user’s ideals and background.

When Lake talks about a means to an end, this is a theoretically flawed assumption, because any good researcher or user of GIS knows that there is no end only a variable set of conclusions that lead to more elaboration of data and a refinement of GIS systems. I personally consider GIS a dynamic tool for representing geographical data in a changing world. Furthermore is it not the idea to show the variety of data from differing backgrounds during analysis to create a mosaic of geographic data that can lead to new discoveries.

The way this article is written and the way GIS and the application of ethical thought are paired, seems disconnected to reality. To clarify the Ethical ideas that Lake speaks of are the old way, a ghost of past thought. Ethics, I believe are considered in a new way, a way that was never considered to older generations of researchers at the time. Ethics of how GIS is used is more loose today, as a global society with a million views cannot be held to the archaic structures of Freudian dynamics of how research is done and how the tools are used.