Tuesday, 18 October 2011

What Makes Spatial Special

Back in 2007, here in CGS (Centre for Geospatial Science) – which is now going to be merged in a new body called Nottingham Geospatial Institute- a blog was actively being updated called “GeoSoup”! I wasn’t here at that time but Mike, Suchith and Didier from the current ELOGeo team in addition to Kristin, Jerry and James were there as the early members of the new established CGS.

While I wasn't aware of this blog, Suchith told me that there was a similar “special-spatial” thread of discussion there (perhaps because at that time they were looking for the speciality of the CGS). Here is what he found: http://geosoup.wordpress.com/2007/07/06/whats-special-about-spatial/

At the first, Kristin and Didier start by saying that the speciality of spatial science looks like the speciality of any other branch of science, in the sense that it needs distinguished set of skills and endeavours, thus one may need to ask “What is SO special about spatial”? The special aspect may be found in the communalities of the way “spatial” is seen. Is it the way of finding the intrinsic characteristics of spatiality which is the mother of all specialities?

Mike believes that the most special thing about spatial is probably its “pleasing alliteration”! Besides that fact, he has brought ideas on the highlighted multi-disciplinary aspect of the geospatial science: What’s “special” is the community that has grown around the collection, processing and operational usage of geo-data. This community has a short-hand for discussing the issues and an awareness of the potential pit-falls in referencing and transforming data about the earth’s surface... All of this is clearly important but it is the concentration of knowledge within tight disciplinary boundaries where there is rapid technological/social/political change potentially creates blind-spots in terms of new ways of doing things or new opportunities... The best of what is “special” about spatial is a healthy mixture of synergistic expertise and people with different ways of thinking so as to create lateral and innovative ways of thinking.

I like Didier’s thoughtful view when he says: Epistemologically speaking, spatial acknowledgment of a phenomenon led to a specific branch of a particular domain e.g.  spatial statistics, spatial epidemiology, landscape ecology, biogeography, psycho-geography, and many more, so mentioning something particular forcing a different approach than the “normal” “usual” way.

My own view from reading the discussion is that a great speciality of the geospatial science is that it has provided one of the widest and most beneficial grounds for applying many other branches of science into the daily life. Multi-disciplinary of the geospatial has become evident by this point, since not only it can make practical application of many science domains, but also the practicality of it can be used by many domain experts (as well as public).


  1. Yes we had good fun discoursing about this. I hope we will still fun for a long time as this special thing about spatial is the reason why we are doing it! isn't it?

  2. "Mike believes that the most special thing about spatial is probably its “pleasing alliteration”".
    And that'll be why there are so many blog posts asking the question.