Geography: Epilogue

Geography: Epilogue

Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 4
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3270-5.ch011
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Abstract

The primary goal of myGeoffice© is to empower Internet users with some geographical quantitative power in a direct and goal oriented way (particularly high-school and university students whose curriculum covers spatial topics). With the spread of smartphones, apps, laptops, tablets, e-learning, m-learning, 4G wireless connectivity, free wi-fi hot spots, apps, Web 2.0 tools and adaptive learning/progress tracking, it is hoped that myGeoffice© can be associated with a teaching strategy and incorporate these trends. This would assist with the basic understanding of spatial inferential and mathematical methods in the classroom and encourage geography as a career path.
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Introduction

For a long time, Geography did not hold a specific mathematical approach for any interpretation of space and this was the major reason why geography bachelor degrees cover a wide variety of subjects (such as demography, geology, topography, hydrology, history, biology, morphology, climatology, statistics, sociology and economics). It seemed that geography did not have any conviction towards its own study object, space. This phenomenon of an absence of laws and techniques on how space rules the Third Rock from the Sun has finally shifted since the 1980s. Until then, geography was not a spatial science but a reflection on the universe, which suggested that it “cooked” a global explanation from other sciences. Hence, the geographer became an intruder into the physical and social fields. Still, the Central Place Theory by Walter Christaller in 1933 is a noble positive outlying example on how geography and economics intersect, giving an insight into the nature of town development.

Finally, geography is creating its own research agenda to meet the needs of spatial location frameworks since what really matters for geographers is spatial (and time) attributes. From this viewpoint, geography becomes a widow of space (Santos, 1978) and space has a close brother called time: geography for space and history for time. Definitely, “Where is…?”, “Is there a general spatial pattern?”, “What are the anomalies?”, and “Why do these phenomena pursue certain spatial distributions?” is the added value given by geographers to other sciences (Ferreira & Simões, 1994).

Again, it would be absurd to believe that quantitative methods could explain all Earth’s phenomena. However, African decolonization or the Gulf wars should be studied in a spatial context within geography, a fragmented point of view. Mayhew (2015) criticizes his quantification for being unrealistic, bloodless and too deterministic, turning humans into automata and the importance of subjective experience.

However, Earth holds some spatial continuity, leading geography in a new effort to create its own general rules of space instead of begging methodologies from other sciences. Geography is the science of the diversity of space, based on its own laws (Longley, Goodchild, Maguire & Rhind, 2011) in detecting urban hierarchy and future industrial localizations, targeting military accessibility, identifying a hospital’s regional influence or uncovering agriculture side-effects from the coexistence of different soil types, for instance. Certainly, this narrow view of geography emphasizes the major feature of its uniqueness to other research fields.

The red area in Figure 1 represents population losses between 1993 and 1997 from the Portuguese electoral roll of the town level (Lisbon and Setubal regions), while the lighter ones represent population gains for the same time period. As expected, a strong positive spatial autocorrelation can be found, a trouble-free detective job in this particular case, leading the researcher to ask questions such as what factors contributed to these shifts in population.

Figure 1.

Population gains and losses on the Portuguese electoral roll at town level

It is undoubtedly a geographer’s job to interpolate the number of inhabitants of Kenya for a particular parish level, to extrapolate the number of socialist voters for Ireland at municipality level, to identify risk flood areas in São Tome and Principe, to set up new country’ borders of the former USSR, to route the nearest available ambulance to an accident scene (including traffic jam situations) in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, to find how many customers live within the Kowloon area of Hong Kong, to locate the nearest drug store available at 3am in Singapore or to transform a territorial division dataset using a spatial overlay operation because of the recent postal code mapping.

Since the dynamic relationships between places reflect social, physical and economic processes, rejecting all traditional approaches would be as ridiculous as rejecting complementary conceptualizations. Therefore, by discussing Voronoi, spatial autocorrelation, Kriging and stochastic simulation, GWR, minimum spanning tree algorithms and point patterns become central to this book, where absolute and relative localization is fundamental in discovering the rules of space.

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