Communities of Scholars: Places of Leverage in the History of Automated Cartography

Author: Chrisman, Nicholas R.

Source: Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 31 October 2005, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 425-433(9)


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The search for "origins" in the history of technology is often disappointing. Each origin uncovers some predecessors vanishing into the mists. More importantly, the distinct competitors turn out to be much more entwined than imagined. This paper will describe the community into which automated cartography emerged. Being "first" is only something that is apparent in retrospect. It makes sense to remember a bit more about the pre-history of geographic information systems, not just to get the history right, but to understand how the events of prior periods influence the way the technology develops. Current developments may owe much to forgotten or misremembered pasts. This paper examines the 1960s with the development of the Canada Geographic Information System (CGIS) by Roger Tomlinson. It then turns to the circumstances that preceded the development of CGIS, particularly at the University of Washington. From this examination, it is apparent that the construction of a community is more important than determining who did what first. This community emerges from documents and artifacts of the period.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 31, 2005

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