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All are geographers!

Denise Pumain
Cet article est une traduction de :
Tous géographes !

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1It isn’t to boast about ourselves, but the mental horizons of the world seem to be more and more filled with geography. The environment is increasingly equipped with captors that locate at high speed the prospects for agricultural production as well as the emission of pollutants.  Our hitherto indispensable companions in mobility inform us of unimagined quantities of new service providers for our slightest movements.  Finding a restaurant in the neighborhood, locating friends who are on the road, sharing news they receive on their end, finding out the schedules of the nearest cinema or timetables for trains is becoming child’s play. Thousands of people volunteering geographic information with their GPS maps are already producing nearly complete mapping systems of our road networks, or using their photographs to construct picture data banks of countryside scenes in 3-D, improving on local weather forecasts, or helping to find objects deliberately lost during exuberant ‘hunt-the-thimble’ parties.  We wonder whether this ubiquitous localisation of space will improve our representations of space, or on the contrary, reduce our cognitive capacities for reading maps and finding our orientation on the ground.

2Geomaticians are proposing to give the name ‘neogeography’ to these practices and usages born of the explosion in digital technologies applied to geo-localised information or to geospatial data.  The repetition in the creation of new terms already suggests a stockpiling, which is confirmed by the plethora of expressions in English, from ‘Cybermapping’ to ‘Where 2.0?, through ‘locative media’ and ‘webmapping’.  But is real science actually increased by these new virtualities?  Other geographers are rejecting a terminology that would considerably lower the scientific ambitions of geography.  And the increasingly common use of ‘geosurveillance’ or of passive ‘trackability’ are presenting problems for regulation and ethics that are still widely debated.

3Let us not neglect the keen interest of the public in making use of some of our favorite objects; let us also know how to encourage our students to imagine useful services and products that will play a role in the development of their professions.  Let us be on our guard not to miss the historical moment of this technological sophistication, to open up access to these forms of data that have sometimes been too readily confiscated by the new operators.  And let us continue to produce instruments of analysis that are capable of extracting meaning starting from these ‘geographies’ which, though fast-spreading, are not always sufficiently shared!

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Denise Pumain, « All are geographers! », Cybergeo : European Journal of Geography [En ligne], Éditoriaux, mis en ligne le 01 décembre 2010, consulté le 22 juin 2018. URL :

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