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Unformatted text preview: CHAPTER 1 Geographic Information Science: Defining the Field David M. Mark Department of Geography, University of Buffalo Buffalo, NY 14261, USA 1 INTRODUCTION In the last decade, Geographic Information Science has emerged as a focus of consider- able academic attention. To some extent, it is the Earths New Science, just as Cognitive Science was the Minds New Science a decade or two earlier (Gardner, 1985). But it is not clear how deep or lasting the impact of GI Science will be, either on academia or on the GIS industry. Rather than following the success of Cognitive Science, GI Science could just as easily be the next Regional Science, a similar fusion of disciplines that peaked early and continues today mainly as an internally successful multidisciplinary field of relatively low influence on science, technology, or society. Worse yet, Geographic Information Sci- ence could largely be just a pretentious name for Geographic Information Systems, and not really a scientific or intellectual field at all. This paper seeks to explore these issues, and to lay out the intellectual scope of Geographic Information Science. 1.1 What is Geographic Information Science? What is Geographic Information Science? In the article in which he introduced the term, Goodchild (1992) did not provide a definition, but rather outlined the scope of the field in- directly by listing the major components of the Geographic Information Science research agenda. A written definition of the field followed when, in December 1994, a group of aca- demics met in Boulder, Colorado, to establish a new organization to represent the GIS basic research committee. There was much debate over the name of the nascent organi- zation, and votes over each word in the title: they settled on calling it the University Con- sortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) (Mark and Bossler, 1995). Having chosen that name, the group was more or less compelled to provide a definition for the field. Again, though, the definition they provided was somewhat indirect: The University Consortium for Geographic Information Science is dedi- cated to the development and use of theories, methods, technology, and data 1 2 Foundations of Geographic Information Science for understanding geographic processes, relationships, and patterns. The transformation of geographic data into useful information is central to ge- ographic information science. (UCGIS, 2002) A full definition of GI Science was provided in a report on a workshop held in January 1999 at the National Science Foundation, Geographic Information Science: Geographic Information Science (GIScience) is the basic research field that seeks to redefine geographic concepts and their use in the context of geo- graphic information systems. GIScience also examines the impacts of GIS on individuals and society, and the influences of society on GIS. GIScience re-examines some of the most fundamental themes in traditional spatially oriented fields such as geography, cartography, and geodesy, while incorpo-...
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