I think Linda Hecht has started an important conversation with her LinkedIn post: Geography and GIS. I spent some time thinking about a response, which I reprint below:
Geography has and always will be my passion. Process or the why has always been at the heart of that passion. It was only much later that location or ‘the where’ was thrust on me through my graduate degree.
GIS and Geography: A Perspective
The why of place (why did the early white settlers decide to stop and stay in Salt Lake City? Why is Big Cottonwood Canyon U shaped?). To me ‘the where’ was incidental to the why. But I recognised my why questions are centred on place. But:
Maps are not geography. GIS is not geography
Geography is ‘the science devoted to the study of the lands, the features, the inhabitants, and the phenomena of Earth’. GIS and maps are tools used by geographers and others to help with understanding and conveying geo-related data and information. The 3 cornerstones of GIS I describe in this blog post: GIS Systems .. you What?
GIS is a tool used by a science like geography, to help with study and improve understanding. One of many tools I should add. Separating geography and GIS is important. Within WebMapSolutions we have long held the view GIS helps to answer questions. In very simple terms these are where ‘questions’.
Author: Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan is a Principal at WebMapSolutions. Matt evangelizes GIS and location intelligence around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books. Follow him on Twitter: