Geographical information systems Essay

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Geographical Information Systems is probably the most important and influential methodological development to have occurred in geography in the past two decades, helping to unify human and physical geography and allowing geographers to map space in ways more sophisticated and more complex than dreamed of before.


While a definition of what constitutes GIS is central to discussing its role within geography, such a definition is in fact difficult to produce since the term is used so variably by different people, some using it to refer to a single system while others use it to designate a system of barely related subsystems (Pickles, in Pickles, 1995, p. 3). Pickles (1995) states that all geographic information systems have two central defining characteristics: They involve the use of digital electronic data and the production of electronic spatial representations (p. 3). Parker (in Castle, 1993, p. xvii) goes even further in simplifying the defining aspect of GIS as being nothing more than 'tial data handling'om which any mention of geography per se can easily be dropped. Such a bare-bones definition of GIS lends it an appearance of neutrality that is deceptive, for geographers use electronic information technology forward a variety of epistemological perspectives and research goals. Pickles (1995) summarizes the field of possible applications; it should be noted that within each of these possible applications a wide range of philosophies and motivations is possible. ...
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