[Humanist] 24.655 role of GIS in scholarship?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Jan 20 08:30:54 CET 2011

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 655.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2011 12:32:04 -0600
        From: "Cogdill, Sharon E." <SCogdill at stcloudstate.edu>
        Subject: role of GIS

Colleagues -

At my university, a vice president has been arguing that there is no place for a GIS (geographic information systems) curriculum because now everybody can get that kind of data and everyone can make maps. To me, the fact that people who take photos with their digital cameras or mobile phones also can see and make use of the coordinates means that we really must teach about that: not only are there really bad maps out there, but people need to be able to interpret that kind of data.

A job posting for GIS appeared on this list not long ago, and it seems to me that a number of TEI projects that I'm aware of are building capabilities based on GIS (or at least GPS) information.

When the discipline of history gets more digital, I've been assuming it'll be in the direction of the encoding and curating of historical documents — and historical GIS.

We haven't reduced the amount of writing we teach because of word processors. Now that "everybody" can use presentation software, it seems to me, we've actually increased the instruction devoted to it. Now that that same everybody can make videos, our instruction in video and film production is growing in depth (in programs devoted to film and video studies and production) as well as breadth (first-year composition teachers assigning at least one video essay in their classes).

What is your sense of it? Is GIS really dead as a discipline? (And have I thus completely missed what's going on?) What arguments would you put forward? What are the arguments stronger than the ones I have suggested above?

TIA for your suggestions,

Sharon Cogdill
Professor, Department of English
Victorian Studies and Digital Humanities
St. Cloud State University
St. Cloud, MN 56301-4498

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