22 Dec

Geographical Review Preview: Geography in the big data age: an overview of the historical resonance of current debates

By: Daniela Ferreira, Mário Vale

What is the main purpose of your study? 
The aim of this article is to situate the epistemological debates over big data in geography historically.

How does your study relate to other work on the subject?
This work introduces a historical dimension to the current debates about the impacts of big data in geography.

What are two or three interesting findings that come from your study? 
Epistemological issues raised by big data debates have historical resonance, namely with: i) the challenges that spatial science created for the training of geographers; ii) the debates on the value of theory in GIS and iii) the critiques made by several epistemological approaches to spatial science and GIS.

What might be some of the theoretical implications of this study? 
The appearance of big data had a significant impact on the epistemology of geography, as it had the capacity to generate new concepts. The broad character of big data and its transversality in the different fields of geography has led geographers to question the current paradigms in geography and these discussions were able to move different epistemological perspectives.

How does your research help us think about Geography? 
Big data seems to have revived several longstanding concerns about geographic theory, and provoked a response by distinct approaches. Big data is a digital mark which can be able to bridge the different fields in geography, creating and combining novel forms of work and generating new opportunities of research. Geographers are already actively creating novel forms of producing knowledge with big data.

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Click here to read the abstract of this article.