This blog is mostly professional, but may have some personal notes in it as well, as it affects my professional activities.

Its namesake stems from my PhD research into regional identities in the late eighteenth century in what is now southern Bavaria.

I blog about issues related to information literacy, access to library resources, the environment, and the Historical Geography of Rupertsland.

Some sources regarding his life and work.

Fischer, H. (1988) ‘Schön und vortrefflich’: die ‘Charte von Schwaben’: Ein kartengeschichtlich bedeutsames Werk zu Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts, in: Beiträge zur Landeskunde: Regelmässige Beilage zum Staatsanzeiger für Baden-Württemberg, Juni 1988, 3:1–8.

Fischer, H. (1988) Die ‘Charte von Schwaben’ im Massstab 1:86,400: Erläuterungen, in the series: Reproduktionen alter Karten, Stuttgart.

Fischer, H. (1993) Die ‘Charte von Schwaben’ 1:86,400, Cartographica Helvetica 7 (1993) 1–10.Gradmann, J.J. (1802) Das gelehrte Schwaben: oder Lexicon der jetzt lebenden schwäbischen Schriftsteller, Ravensburg.

Günther, Siegmund (1922) Eine Kartierung Oberschwabens um die Wende des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts, Sitzungsberichte der mathematisch-physikalischen Klasse der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu München, Jahrgang 1921 315–330, 317n.

Wolfart, P. (2008) Mapping the Early Modern State: the Work of Ignaz Ambros Amman, 1782–1812, Journal of Historical Geography, 34(1):1-23.

"Ignaz Ambros von Amman" in Wikipedia [short entry but cites Wolfart (2008).]

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

GIS vs. Geography

Bit of a personal journey, but I've been thinking about what the difference between a geographer (me) and cartographer is.  In essence, cartographer (aka, GIS) is one tool that a geographer can use to understand and articulate spatial distribution of events or phenomena. 

But there is so much more to it.  Other tools I use are critical thinking, analysis, recognition of particular epistemologies, ability to identify and counter popular arguments, the recognition that geographies are actively created through unintentional and unplanned arguments and actions.  For example a pervasive world view of liberalism in the 19th century, that throughout western Europe and ultimately the world, held that humanity might be liberated by the geographical coincidence of nation and state, produced a very unique geography with dominant nations neatly compartmentalised across the globe, and less dominant groups being subject to discrimination, diminished social status, oppression and in extreme cases genocide.

These are tools not often in the toolkit of GIS practioners, although many a professional in most any field these days, might be expected to have these.

Ever since making a monumental shift in my career away from what I thought was a profession in Geography to Librarian, my Librarian colleagues, somewhat misguidedly, as it seems to me now, steered me towards gis or map librarianship.  This is a highly technical skill that certainly isn't beyond me to learn, but a set of skills I was not presented with early on in my career.   My skills and / or training extends beyond this, or at best run parallel to this.  Opportunities to retrain are rare (I've seized many), and yet professional positions elude me.  Is it time to recognize that the divisions set out some time after Humboldt, between cartography (an art) and geography (a scientific or humanistic pursuit) are here to stay, or indeed that GIS has moved away from the realm of Geography.  Its popularity and ease of use, has certainly made it very attractive to a wide variety of applications that should have recognized its value generations ago, but for lack of easy and computer power would hope that somebody else dealt with it.  Then the question I'd like to address in time (another posting perhaps) is what are the origins of the difference between cartography and geography, when did they split, why, and what of it?

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