[Geowanking] Idea for a Neogeographers meet Paleogeographers panel at Where 2.0
arobinson at psu.edu
Sun Nov 23 11:55:49 PST 2008
Paleo = old, extinct, fossilized, etc.
The term itself sets up the situation of defining one group as irrelevant
and the other fresh, new and revolutionary. I am not going to embrace any
categorization of my work as extinct or fossilized. Nobody would - it's
hardly a positive characterization. Why isn't it OK to just look at these
things as different, not necessarily one better than the other? There are
very different goals at work here that make these comparisons not terribly
meaningful. Academics work within a well-defined culture and have priorities
that focus on advancing science goals and educating/advising students. A
FOSS neogeographer likely has different priorities. And there are quite a
few people who could be considered part of both camps.
What I suggest is that defining these groups and starting us vs. them
battles that do not seek interesting areas of common concern are not
productive activities. There's way too much generalization going on - too
many exceptions to both camp definitions and not enough value to be had from
hashing out those definitions.
I don't see how what I suggest is throwing up a wall. quite the contrary.
I'm interested in whatever we can do to avoid setting up walls in the first
place. Collaborations like the one FortiusOne has with the U-Wisconsin folks
is one great example of the huge potential for mixing people from both
backgrounds. I think setting up a charged environment by placing people in
one or more camps that are narrowly defined with one group clearly being
viewed as new, exciting, fresh, while the other is ancient, extinct, and
irrelevant is a clear exercise in wall building that will only end up
benefiting academics who critique trends in academic geography (that would
be ironic, don't you think?). Maybe I'm not seeing it clearly - help me out
It should be an interesting session at Where 2.0 if it ends up happening. I
think we can agree that discussing this stuff in a postive,
collaboration-oriented way is a good idea for everyone concerned. Hopefully
I can leave the soft comforts of my ivory tower perch where I do nothing but
generate secret, irrelevant, navel-gazing work that only other academics can
understand to attend the meeting and participate myself.*
*just a touch of sarcasm there. J
Anthony Robinson, PhD
John A. Dutton e-Education Institute / GeoVISTA Center
Department of Geography
The Pennsylvania State University
From: geowanking-bounces at geowanking.org
[mailto:geowanking-bounces at geowanking.org] On Behalf Of Eric Wolf
Sent: Sunday, November 23, 2008 2:10 PM
To: geowanking at lists.burri.to
Subject: Re: [Geowanking] Idea for a Neogeographers meet Paleogeographers
panel at Where 2.0
Rather than thinking of neo vs. paleo as divisive, I think it's helpful to
assume the perspective of the folks calling themselves "neo" geographers. I
believe, from their perspective that this "geography" which is mostly
embodied as web-based cartography is a new (or "neo") thing. But it's new on
1. It's new to the practitioners. They are the amateurs in terms of
geography but they are NOT amateurs in terms of technology.
2. This technology democratizes cartography in a way not seen since
Guttenberg made it possible for more people to have maps. In that sense, it
is new or "neo".
Regards to Geography as a discipline: In the realm of academia, neogeography
does not mean to supplant Geography. But to simply say:
"There is a new field for geography to research. Nothing more and nothing
less in my eyes."
Is to underestimate the significance of democratized cartography. And for
"Mapping and spatial analysis methods didn't simply appear out of thin air
to become mashable through an API. "
It is admirable that you make efforts to get your software out as FOSS - but
that's actually not that common in academic Geography. So many academics
keep their software and data a closely held secret. They publish analysis
methods but only in venues that other academics participate in. What
happens is methods and APIs do "simply appear out of thin air" as these FOSS
"hackers" reinvent the methods that are published in an inaccessible manner.
Even APIs get supplanted because the overly formalized, academic APIs like
OGC appear too complex (thus we get the Google API and the OpenStreetMap
API). Further, many FOSS "hackers" are brilliant thinkers with a strong
dislike of academia. They dropped out of college because the CompSci
department taught decades old material in a very slow pedagogy.
I believe is it very important for us Paleogeographers to wear the name with
honor and embrace the efforts of the Neogeographers. We do carry with us
much hard-fought knowledge and wisdom that the Neogeographers would benefit
from. But, at the same time, if we don't make it accessible in a manner THEY
get, then the Neogeographers will stumble their own way along backed by
Billion$ in Venture Capital and Millions of code contributors.
Geography has always struggled in defining itself. To throw up walls because
of a definition being given it by a massively productive culture would, I
think, be another blow against the discipline.
Eric B. Wolf 720-209-6818
Center of Excellence in GIScience
CU-Boulder - Geography
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