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Über dieses Buch

It is particularly appropriate that the AAG's Centennial Celebration should prompt the publication of a volume devoted to Geography and Technology. New technologies have always been important in advancing geographic understanding, but never have they been so thoroughly and rapidly transformative of the discipline as at this stage in geography's evolution. Just as new technologies have profoundly expanded both research possibilities and the knowledge base of other disciplines, such as biology, physics or medicine, so too are the revolutionary new geographic technologies developed during the past few decades extending frontiers in geographic research, education and applications. They are also creating new and resurgent roles for geography in both society and in the university. This trend is still accelerating, as the integration of geographic technologies, such as the global positioning system and geographic information systems (GPS/GIS), is creating an explosion of new "real-time, real-world" applications and research capabilities. The resultant dynamic space/time interactive research and management environments created by interactive GPS/GIS, among other technologies, places geography squarely at the forefront of advanced multidisciplinary research and modeling programs, and has created core organization management tools (geographic management systems) which will dramatically change the way governments and businesses work in the decades ahead. While these and other important geographic technologies, including remote sensing, location-based services, and many others addressed in this book, are forging new opportunities for geography and geographers, they also pose challenges.



Geography and Technology Interfaces


Chapter 1. Geography and Technology

It can be argued that geography’s origins as a category of knowledge had technology as a cornerstone. According to James (1972), geography arose from two fundamental desires in human nature: (1) to find out what lies over the next hill, i.e., to explore unknown places and report what we find; and (2) to know where we are in order both to get home and to return to that spot if we wish, i.e., to navigate on the face of the earth. In the first case, moving from one place to another always depended on meeting needs for water, shelter, fire, weapons for hunting and self-defense, and the transport of supplies, all of which are related to technology, however primitive. In the second case, successful navigation depended on observing the stars and recording landmarks, also related to technology, and in many cases stimulating attention to technology needs. In both cases leaps of technology have time and again changed how geography is done and what it means for society, and in both cases, maps have been a tool that is a foundation of our discipline and its concepts (Curry, Chapter 25).
Thomas J. Wilbanks

Chapter 2. Communications Technology and the Production of Geographical Knowledge

Academic knowledge is produced through interaction between those involved in its creation and circulation. Such interaction involves two interpenetrating networks: face-to-face interpersonal contact, and the circulation of manuscripts and other materials. The operation of each of these networks is facilitated by technological changes, especially in communications media. Their role is outlined here with particular reference to the recent history of geography, with the concluding section suggesting that whereas those media have speeded up the circulation of materials and widened their spatial scope, nevertheless it is probably the case that interpersonal face-to-face contacts remain crucial to many aspects of knowledge dissemination.
Ron Johnston

Chapter 3. Federal Funding, Geographic Research, and Geographic Technologies: 1904–2004

The history of geographical research in the U.S. has been closely intertwined with the federal government throughout the past hundred years. Since World War II, the federal government has provided substantial support for geographic research. Programs such as the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation have provided major investment into geographers’ research activities. In this paper, we trace the history of relationships between the federal government and academic geography over the past century, and we analyze patterns of federal support for research papers published in the Annals, The Professional Geographer, and Geographical Review.
Fred M. Shelley, Wendy Bigler, Richard Aspinall

Technologies That Changed Geography


Chapter 4. The Imbrication of Geography and Technology: The Social Construction of Geographic Information Systems

This chapter examines the disciplinary interface between geography and technology from an ecological perspective. Our analysis of a few cases shows that the relationships between geography and technology are never clear-cut, but always intertwined like tree roots in a forest. The roots (or rhizomes) of each tree support an individual above ground, while the tangled roots just visible or invisible below the surface are a messy tangle that also are part of biochemical processes that sustain each tree, and the forest in which other trees grow. Rhizomes from different trees and plants interweave in symbiotic or parasitic relationship that are integral to the ecosystem. The relationships between geography and technology also can be understood in this ecological metaphor. What has made the growth of GIS possible? We argue that a highly fertile interface between geography and technology supports the profuse growth of GIS. Drawing on science and technology studies, we argue that the geography-technology relationship is no “chicken and egg” problem, but is evidenced in myriad, theoretically infinite relationships and interactions occurring worldwide. Each GIS implementation follows many roots, and we need to excavate them in order to understand the historical development of the interface between geography and technology. This approach calls for attention to specific sites and configurations of technology. The development of geography is intricately interwoven with the development of technology, but under no circumstances does technology determine a path for geography. In the fillamous rhizomatic network, many geographies and technologies connect and lead to subsequent developments.
Francis J. Harvey, Nicholas R. Chrisman

Chapter 5. Computers and Geography: From Automated Geography to Digital Earth

The computer has drastically transformed both the world of geography as an academic discipline and the geography of the world in which we live. This chapter traces the evolution of computers from being a tool for geographers to collect, analyze, map, and visualize data since the mid- to late-1950s to increasingly becoming an integral part of the world geographers study by the end of the 20th century. Computers have enriched the discipline of geography with the development of automated geography, GIScience, and the virtual geography department. The increasing etherealization of geography, as evidenced by the emerging digital individuals, virtual cities, and digital earth, has raised many fundamental scientific, socioeconomic, and ethical questions that need further investigation. To better understand the world, geographers must try to rely on state-of-the-art computers on the one hand, and at the same time, recognize the fundamental limits of computation and build dialogues with a variety of different scholarly traditions.
Daniel Sui, Richard Morrill

Chapter 6. Remote Sensing of Selected Biophysical Variables and Urban/Suburban Phenomena

Remote sensing science may be used to provide spatially distributed information for a significant number of models and applications. Information is extracted from remotely sensed data using the remote sensing process, which includes stating the problem, data collection (in situ and remote sensing), data-to-information conversion, and information presentation. The process requires a thorough understanding of the spatial, spectral, temporal, radiometric, and angular characteristics of the remotely sensed data. Advances in remote sensing of national spatial data infrastructure (NSDI) framework foundation variables (e.g., geodetic control, orthoimagery, digital elevation models) and selected framework thematic variables (e.g., land use/cover data, vegetation type and condition) are examined. The chapter concludes with a summary of advances in information extraction techniques and the integration of GIS and remote sensing.
John R. Jensen, Michael E. Hodgson

Chapter 7. New Digital Geographies: Information, Communication, and Place

This chapter provides an overview of contemporary trends relevant to the development of geographies based on new digital technologies such as the Internet and mobile phones. Visions of utopian and ubiquitous information superhighways and placeless commerce are clearly passé, yet privileged individuals and places are ever more embedded in these new digital geographies while private and state entities are increasingly embedding these digital geographies in all of us. First is a discussion of the centrality of geographical metaphors to the way in which we imagine and visualize the new digital geographies. Then the example of the commercial Internet (e-commerce) is used to demonstrate the continued central role of place in new digital geography both in terms of where activities cluster and how they vary over space. The transformation of digital connections from fixed (i.e., wired) to untethered (i.e., wireless) connections is explored as to its significance in the way we interact with information and the built environment. Finally is an examination of the troubling issue of the long data shadows cast by all individuals as they negotiate their own digital geographies vis-à-vis larger state and private entities.
Matthew Zook, Martin Dodge, Yuko Aoyama, Anthony Townsend

New Geographies with New Technologies


Chapter 8. From Globes to GIS: The Paradoxical Role of Tools in School Geography

Computing and GIS appear to have the potential for revolutionizing geographic learning, offering students access to the “real world” and powerful tools for thinking geographically. They also appear to have the potential to reestablish a significant role for geography in American education. The former may be correct; the latter is unlikely. To understand the impact of computing and GIS, we must set them into the context of prior tools and technologies for geographic learning. Tools have played a double and paradoxical role in the history of school geography. They have been necessary for teaching geography, and they have epitomized the failure of the subject. Using textbooks as a case study, this chapter shows how school geography has squandered the original social mandate to learn geography. Tools were instrumental in this demise of school geography. Geography went from being indispensable to marginal, from intellectually challenging to dull and boring. It is the lack of a compelling social mandate to learn geography that prevents the reestablishment of geography as a school subject in K-12 education in America.
Roger M. Downs

Chapter 9. Fieldwork in Nonwestern Contexts: Continuity and Change

Fieldwork has a long and varied history in geography, from being employed in the service of empires in the past to its use in participatory research for social advocacy and empowerment of the poor and the powerless today. This paper focuses specifically on continuity and change in the nature of fieldwork in nonwestern settings over the last half century. Geographical questions originate, are documented, and are tested in the field. Although technological innovation has benefited some aspects of fieldwork, many other dimensions of fieldwork remain unchanged. The advance of technology is no guarantee that the quality of fieldwork will improve. The character of fieldwork has also been influenced by the changing nature of societies themselves. The past fifty years have seen the end of formal European colonies. Finally, discussions of fieldwork in geography have been influenced by the growing interest in poststructuralism and feminism. Geographers are increasingly aware of their situatedness or positionality as researchers and of their responsibilities toward those whom they study as well as toward scholarship itself. We discuss the practice of fieldwork informed by our experiences in three different parts of the world—Africa (Porter), Papua New Guinea (Grossman), and the Eastern Caribbean (Grossman)—representing research at different times beginning in the 1950s. We consider more general discussions of fieldwork in the literature that address issues of the politics and ethics of knowledge production. While the ways of doing fieldwork change and even purposes change, the task ultimately is to understand our world and help make it a good, continuing place for humankind.
Philip W. Porter, Lawrence S. Grossman

Chapter 10. The Camera and Geographical Inquiry

Geographers have long made use of cameras in producing photographs useful in teaching, in the conduct of research, and in publishing. Like lay people generally, they are also consumers of the massive amount of photographic imagery daily encountered on television, in the cinema, in the “pictorial” print media, in outdoor advertising, etc. Explored in this essay is academic geography’s embrace of still photography taken at or near ground level. (Other essays in this anthology treat aerial photography, including remote sensing and geographical information systems, and motion pictures). Credit is due those geographers who have made camera use and/or the analysis of photographs central to their work. The fundamental centrality of visual imagery in contemporary society suggests that much more remains to be accomplished, however. This essay seeks to offer appropriate conceptual focus encouraging to a fuller and more sophisticated embrace of photography in geography.
John A. Jakle

Chapter 11. Film Networks and the Place(s) of Technology

Interrogation of the complex links between film networks and technology is a recent and promising trend within cinematic geography that moves beyond concerns with relative accuracies of place representation, reel-real distinctions, and singularly focused textual readings associated with constructions of place. This chapter contributes to the emergent dialogue by regarding film and technology as part of a broad, relational network comprised of diverse objects and knowledges, such that they can be read both as a product of processes and as being productive of other processes. The nature of this complex and multiscale network is examined by providing an assessment of interrelations that bind film financiers, producers, distributors, personnel, viewers, and public institutions into a series of smaller and still-complex networks, all of which are deeply embedded within a varied array of economic, political, and cultural settings. Three examples within this larger field are explored within such a frame: the early years of film, the Hollywood System, and “global” cinema and its discontents. The key features of each are considered in terms of its relationality between the components of each network to the larger system, and in terms of the respective technological apparatus brought to bear in their respective realizations.
Deborah P. Dixon, Leo E. Zonn

Chapter 12. Motor Vehicles on the American Landscape

Geographers have studied the impacts of automobiles and related economies at various scales during the past century. Among the major topics investigated are industrial sites, influences on urban and suburban morphology, and the automobile in American culture and society. The automobile has been a catalyst for changing class, race, and gender relations in rural and urban settings. Entire new service economics, including leisure, entertainment, lodging, and fast foods, have emerged, all reflective of a machine-dependent technology. The increased reliance on motor vehicles has raised social and environmental awareness, especially on pollution, dependency on international producers of fossil fuels, traffic congestion, and urban sprawl. Many of the features of the American motor vehicle landscape are diffusing to other world regions and major cities.
James M. Rubenstein

Chapter 13. Airspaces: Air Transport, Technology, and Society

In the course of the last century, air transport leapt from the pages of science fiction to become a relentless mechanism for economic and social change. For millions of people, the airline industry has redefined the scope and pace of everyday life. The success of air transport, both for passenger and cargo traffic, has been founded upon technological change, much of it defense-related. Commercial aircraft rapidly improved, especially after World War II, in range, capacity, speed, and safety. Combined, these changes have driven the cost of air transport steadily downwards, fostering unprecedented personal mobility for an increasing share of the world’s population and helping to shape a new international division of labor. Although the airline and aircraft industries were profoundly shaken by the attacks of September 11, 2001, ongoing technological advances promise to amplify the impact of air transport still further, not only in the busiest hubs, but also in the distant places that have heretofore lain on the margins of the jet age.
Thomas R. Leinbach, John T. Bowen

Chapter 14. A World on Demand: Geography of the 24-Hour Global TV News

The news is in our homes, our workplaces, and the landscape. The views of the world represented by 24-hour global news media have their own spatial dimensions. Given access to new reporting and analytical technologies, geographers are well equipped to study media impacts, especially those of cable, broadcast, and satellite TV news that purport to present all the news while it is happening. This chapter explores the geographies of news events, the history of media technology from the fixtures of the past to tomorrow’s personal communication networks, and concludes with a discussion of possible collaboration between geographers and media.
David R. Rain, Susan R. Brooker-Gross

Chapter 15. Democracy and Technology

Does access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) reshape the meaning, understanding, and practices of democracy? Will citizens feel less alienated, and will they become more engaged? This chapter focuses on two dimensions of ICTs, cyberdemocracy and e-government, to illustrate how the spread of ICTs in central and east Europe has begun to impact democratic practices and democratic communications. While successful participatory initiatives are few, nevertheless the countries in these region have begun to create mechanisms which allow individuals and groups to enter virtual political space.
Joanna Regulska

Chapter 16. Technologies Applied to Public Health

Health needs drive technology, but technology also steers public health investments and practice. Technology-health interactions are illustrated by case studies of weapons of mass destruction, environmental cancer, elderly health care, urban redevelopment and sprawl, and the spread of HIV/AIDS and other infectious agents. Technology has speeded up detection, evaluation, forecasts of the ebb and flow of risk, and the development and use of medicines and risk management equipment. Yet technology has created new public health risks and increased the potency of existing low-risk hazards. Effective balancing of the technology-health interactions depends upon economic, social and political health of nations and states, with the residents of the North American, Western European, and a few Asian nations enjoying a much longer life expectancy and higher quality of life than their counterparts in many other nations. Differences between technology-health rich places and technology-health poor ones are likely to increase in the near future.
Michael Greenberg

Chapter 17. “Real” Bodies, “Real” Technologies

With the influential rise of poststructuralist theory in the social sciences, understandings of the notions of women and space are moving away from tightly wound, monolithic packages toward loosely linked, contingent ensembles. Alongside the ontological challenges of these discursive categories has been a shift in the way that body and technology are popularly understood. Drawing on feminist work on bodies and technology, we offer a reading of “real” bodies and “real” technologies that focuses on both the social construction and the tangible, concrete expressions of the body and technology at the same time.
Pamela Moss, Mei-Po Kwan

Chapter 18. Geotechnology, the U.S. Military, and War

Geotechnologies have always been an integral part of military training and war. Maps as keys to effective strategies have been and remain essential in planning and combat. They have been supplemented by aerial photography, remotely sensed images, and recent advances in GIS and GPS. This chapter focuses on the uses of major geotechniques by the U.S. Army and Air Force during major wars of the past century. Many of these innovations in military geotechnology can also be used in peacetime and nonwar arenas. The demand for geographic information and spatial analysis continues with new technologies to map, represent, and analyze spatial and environmental data.
Mark W. Corson, Eugene J. Palka

The Environment and Technology


Chapter 19. Earth Pulses in Direct Current

The Earth’s pulse is evident in a variety of geomorphic processes that shape its surface. This chapter describes how electronic instrumentation has dramatically increased our capacity to investigate sediment transport by wind and water and to relate processes to morphological change. A number of instruments and techniques for measuring fluid flow and sediment transport in fluvial, coastal, and aeolian environments are discussed, including current meters, current profilers, pressure transducers, optical backscatter sensors, anemometers, hot-film probes, photoelectric erosion pins, sediment traps, and saltation impact responders. The deployment of such instruments is placed in the context of scale, methodology, limitations, and interpretation of spatiotemporal records of measured processes.
Douglas J. Sherman, Andreas C. W. Baas

Chapter 20. The Impact of Technology Upon In Situ Atmospheric Observations and Climate Science

Over the past 100 years geographers have extensively employed in situ observations of the atmosphere in their research endeavors. Technological improvements in instrumentation, communication, and data storage media have played fundamental roles in the expansion of observational networks and in the improved accuracy and precision of measurements. Yet, technological changes, along with technological limitations, such as instrument drift and failure, have introduced unwanted inhomogeneity into the time series of surface and upper-air observations. An additional constraint is that most, if not all, observational networks for the atmosphere were designed for short-range weather prediction rather than for climate monitoring. This essay reviews, for the non-climatologist, the primary surface and upper-air datasets available for climatological research in the U.S. and for global-scale analyses. Particular focus is placed on the known sources of inhomogeneities in these data series. Geographers need to become more aware of the value of in situ surface and upper-air observations and the current limitations and fragility of these networks.
Julie A. Winkler

Chapter 21. Population-Environment Interactions with an Emphasis on Land-Use/Land-Cover Dynamics and the Role of Technology

Technology has played a fundamental role in mapping, monitoring, and modeling land-use/land-cover (LULC) dynamics across a range of spatial and temporal scales and local, regional, and global extents. Spatial technologies, including remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), data visualizations, spatial and statistical analyses, and models have combined to position people, place, and the environment within a spatially and temporally explicit context. These technologies help characterize the rate, pattern, and composition of LULC dynamics so that associated drivers of land-use change can be related to socioeconomic, demographic, geographic, and environmental dynamics. Special challenges exist because of inherent differences in how people and the environment are characterized in both space and time. Theories and practices from the social, natural, and spatial sciences are integrated to study LULC dynamics within the context of human-environment interactions. The goal has been to characterize the composition and spatial organization of LULC through its structure, function, and change and to relate the drivers of change to observed or simulated LULC patterns at different scales of analysis. Here we emphasize the use of technology for characterizing LULC dynamics, collecting and linking data from households, communities, regions, and nations with spatially explicit data collected, managed, and integrated within a Geographic Information Science (GISc) perspective. We discuss how technology aids in (1) mapping, monitoring, and modeling LULC dynamics by considering remote-sensing systems for LULC mapping, (2) image change-detection approaches for monitoring land-cover dynamics, (3) socioeconomic and demographic surveys linked to place through GPS technology and other approaches for characterizing the human dimension, (4) GIS for deriving and integrating disparate data, and (5) land-cover models for creating multilevel and spatial simulation of LULC dynamics. We describe how technology is being used to consider human behavior and agency in conjunction with a wide variety of processes associated with land-use/land-cover change.
Stephen J. Walsh, Tom P. Evans, Billie L. Turner

Chapter 22. Capacity Building and Geographic Information Technologies in African Development

This chapter argues that the potential of geographic information processing (GIP) technologies for development in Africa is considerable, but that there are many barriers to be overcome before that potential can be fully realized. Building on the National Academy’s study Down to Earth: The Geographical Foundations of Sustainable Development in Africa (2002), I consider the barriers and argue that developing and expanding geospatial capacity at societal, organizational, and individual levels is indispensable to the increased use of utility of GIP technologies. The development of indigenous capacity is key to making the potential of GIP to African development a reality.
D. R. F. Taylor

Chapter 23. Natural Hazards and Technology: Vulnerability, Risk, and Community Response in Hazardous Environments

Understanding the causes and effects of natural hazards has been facilitated greatly by technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, and satellite imagery as well as by advances in data collection and dissemination. In addition, various technologies have been applied to protect areas from damage or to minimize damage when events occur. Too often, however, the available technologies have been directed to quick-fix responses and remedies, thus hindering rather than increasing our understanding of the factors at work. This trend has been changing, in large part due to advances in analytical tools that allow for consideration of complex systems. Yet despite these advances, global losses continue to increase, reflecting the need to incorporate technologies within the context of the political, social, and economic systems that may increase or mitigate vulnerability.
Graham A. Tobin, Burrell E. Montz

The Worlds Before Us


Chapter 24. The GIS Revolution in Science and Society

Geography, through geographic information systems (GIS), is changing science and society in fundamental, pervasive, and lasting ways. The GIS-based precision bombing of Baghdad changes the nature of warfare, foreign policy, and international relations as profoundly as did the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. In the U.S. proven applications already affect just about everything that involves location, movement or flow. Most GIS applications are beneficial, but some possess enormous power for good or evil, depending on how they are used. GIS-based human-tracking technologies, for instance, threaten to alter age-old social relationships- parent/child, husband/wife, employer/employee, and master/slave. Society cannot afford to continue “business as usual” with regard to geography and GIS, but remedies will require corrective actions as dramatic as those accorded to physics and nuclear engineering after World War II. Yet popular misconceptions about geography and simplistic views of GIS hamper public debate.
Jerome E. Dobson

Chapter 25. Why Technology? Narratives of Science and the Bewitchment of an Image

Is technology a necessary element of geography? Although many would answer in the affirmative, pointing to the map, and now geographic information systems, geography in currently identifiable forms, predated the availability of permanent portable maps. In fact, the idea of the map or its successors as forming essential elements of geography has a distinctively negative consequence. Where geography focuses on these technologies, the future of the discipline comes to be defined in terms not of ongoing and emerging research questions, but rather of a purified set of images, of data structures, and forms of representation. The technologies are displaced from the everyday practice of geography. The question for geographers is not “should we develop new technologies,” but rather “how will we prevent the technologies from obscuring the ways in which important questions are framed?”
Michael Curry


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