By: Michael R Curry
191 pages, Illus
The last twenty-five years have seen major changes in the nature and scope of geographical information. This has happened in one way in society at large, where computers, satellites and global positioning systems have made geographical information more extensive, more detailed and more available. It has happened in another way within the university, where rapidly evolving geographic information systems have been touted as tools useful in a wide range of disciplines, tools that will resolve problems as different as the nature of global climate change and the routing of mail. In both settings the move from manual to computer-based systems is viewed as having a natural trajectory, from less powerful to more powerful technologies. These systems are held to be increasingly able to model and represent all that is important in geographical knowledge and behaviour. They are seen as fitting into and supporting traditional scientific and social practices and institutions. Digital Places: Living with Geographic Information Technologies shows that on each score the systems have been misunderstood and their impacts underestimated. By offering an understanding of Geographic Informati Systems within the social, economic, legal, political and ethical contexts within which they exist, the author shows that there are substantial limits to their ability to represent the very objects and relationships, people and places, that many believe to be most important. Focusing on the ramifications of GIS usage, Digital Places shows that they are associated with far-reaching changes in the institutions in which they exist, and in the lives of those they touch. In the end they call for a complete rethinking of basic ideas, like privacy and intellectual property and the nature of scientific practice, that have underpinned public life for the last one hundred years.
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