Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
merges together into what can be called geographic information representa-
tion (Chapters 3 and 9).
Space, Things, Events, and Associations
All geographic measurements start out with observations of things and
events. Things and events may seem at times to be independent of each
other, but geographic relationships bind them together in associations. How
you approach them is not only a matter of geography or cartography, but
also a matter of a field's or a discipline's conventions. A geomorphologist
thinks quite differently about streambeds than a limnologist. A city planner
thinks that street centerlines are good for zoning boundaries; a geodesist
may differ. You may have your own examples from your field. Many GIS sci-
entists think about these associations in terms of a predicate calculus that
can be manipulated to model the situation and develop stable descriptions.
Most people using GIS are glad when they get the results of this science, but
they pragmatically focus on working with what they know and improving
that knowledge and their abilities. This latter point is the focus of this topic,
although finding out about the underlying science is important to learn
about too.
Geographic information science (GIS), the field concerned with the
underlying theories and concepts of geographic information, is pertinent
when you learn about geographic and cartographic concepts for maps and
geographic information. You might already be familiar with the terms “spa-
tial” and “geospatial,” which refer to properties that take place in space,
especially activities on the earth. These terms refer to understandings of the
world slightly different from geography is with its interest in places and
spaces. These two terms suggest that the work described with these terms is
usually done for purposes outside of a traditional understanding of geogra-
phy. In any case, these terms, along with “geographic,” are for this topic's
purposes synonymous. However, you should be aware that the terms used in
this topic can vary in meaning among disciplines and settings.
The underlying disciplinary concepts of space, relationships, and associ-
ations also can vary greatly. Space is a continuous area. Things and events in
space can be related or associated. Related means that the things and events
are connected in terms of distance. Associated means that things and events
occur together, without any intervening distance. This topic adopts a prag-
matic perspective regarding disciplinary concepts, which is related to an
empirical and contextual understanding that things and events mean what
they do because of who is creating the meaning and in which context.
Frameworks and Conventions
Many people look at maps dubiously. They say maps don't make any sense;
they don't match what they see; they are far too complex. Many other people
almost feel lost going somewhere without a map. Why is that? There are cer-
tainly many personal and subjective reasons involved, but I want to suggest
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