Neogeography Is Dead (According To Wikipedia At Least)

Ahh … paleogeography and neogeography; will the battle never end? The latter is a term used to refer to the combining of online mapping with data, incorporating classic cartography and GIS and exposed via Web 2.0 style mashups. The former is a term with dual meanings; one referring to the study of past and ancient geography and one being a pejorative to refer to the opposite and inverse of neogeography.

Good News

Both terms have their own entries on Wikipedia … at least they used to. Towards the end of September 2010 the neogeography entry on Wikipedia was deleted with the justification …

‘(it) isn’t even clear about what the term means. Not exactly a neologism (it’s apparently been used by various people – it doesn’t take much creativity to add “neo-” to a word), but a poorly defined term that has not gained general acceptance’

… while the paleogeography entry was revised to remove any mentions of the term being neogeography’s antonym.

Within the location industry the term neogeography has certainly gained general acceptance, from Di-Ann Eisnor (ex of Platial and now at Waze) being credited with first coining the phrase, to Andrew Turner’s book on the subject being published by O’Reilly in 2006.

Introduction to Neogeography cover

Maybe we need a new term in place of neogeography, one free from the pejorative comparisons between the new and the old ways of doing things? Web Mapping has been suggested, on Wikipedia, but to me that seems too focused on the map at the expense of the other innovative uses of geographic data which have little or no map associated with them.

For now though, neogeography may be dead on Wikipedia but the tools and techniques the term describes are very much alive and well, even if they lack a convenient, one size fits all, label.

Photo Credits: Pascal and Andrew Turner on Flickr.
Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

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