Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Technology: a research tool or a way of making life?

While reading this week's articles, I had a chance to think about the identity of geography in social sciences. The debate around GIS shows us how some geographers try to place their status as unique one among other adjacent academic areas. Even though I can understand their attempts, I couldn't have been shocked by Openshaw's claim: "One explanation for an antiGIS reaction would be that the GIS critics have essentially become nongeographers but, like a parasite, they are trapped within a host they may despise but cannot escape, so they continue to masquerade as geographers living out their fantasies in the geographical literature and doing their best to avoid geography rediscovering its geographical roots" (p. 678). It is understandable that he is trying to accuse so-called antiGIS geographers of be afraid of technology; however, they also have reasonable argument and concern about the tendency of spreading research using GIS. Therefore, Openshaw's argument may look as an attempt to keep an exclusively invested interest by monopolizing GIS. Everybody can use GIS for their own research in their own academic area. I think that in a sense such antiGIS scholars are much more afraid of technological determinism.

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