Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Luddites ... relax ... somewhat

Openshaw discusses the "old school" (my words, not his) geographer's fear that GIS will eventually replace traditional ways of conducting geographical research, but I don't think this will be the case. Now, I am painfully ignorant about the the functions of GIS, but isn't it the case that new research tools are almost always modern versions of doing what we've always done? For instance, we use SPSS in social science research, which simply does what researchers did on paper before computers came along.

I would also argue that we have adapted communication technologies, such as the telephone and the Internet, to fit our societal needs. These technologies haven't forced us to adapt to the them in ways that dramatically impact society.

Therefore, Openshaw writes that, "GIS will not replace traditional tools but it does offer an extremely useful complement to them" (p. 681), and I agree with this. Maybe, however, those who are much more familiar with GIS will disagree with me!

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