Academic journal article Cartography and Geographic Information Science

Conceptualizing Space and Time: A Classification of Geographic Movement

Academic journal article Cartography and Geographic Information Science

Conceptualizing Space and Time: A Classification of Geographic Movement

Article excerpt

Movement and Geography

Geographic explanation revolves around the spatial property of the phenomenon under investigation as space is an inherent feature in geography. Space is also naturally linked with time; the two are subjective and necessary conditions of sensory experience that are empirically defined only with respect to phenomena (Akhundov 1986). The dimensionalities of these inherent geographic properties interact with one another as they evolve and change across the landscape. Such transformations in space and through time occur across all scales and refer to the movement associated with geographic phenomena. Geographic movement, or spatial change of an object, is associated with virtually any geographic description, explanation, or analysis at some scale. Sometimes, geographical analyses involve the direct examination of the motion itself, such as daily trip pattern studies where personal use of time and space in an urban environment are examined. With others, spatial change may not be the subject of direct inquiry, but rather may be viewed historically in the examination of a phenomenon over time, as with the case of "moving regions." Conceptualizing the dynamic nature of a phenomenon as it evolves and interacts through space and time is a crucial principle in geographical understanding.

Traditionally, however, movement was not regarded as a significant integrating concept within the geographic discipline. It was viewed as a consequence or byproduct of something larger that is taking place. Theories of movement have, for the most part, been lodged under different headings, such as spatial interaction and migration theory. Focus has usually centered on the overall process of which motion is a part; that is, the "what," "why," and "where from," and "where to" of a subject that is moving. However, in recent years geographers have sought to understand the activities and movements on the Earth's surface that help to explain the distributions of humans and their works (Robinson 1976). In 1984, the Association of American Geographers (AAG) and the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) defined movement as one of five central geographic themes to be included in geographic education at elementary and secondary schools across the United States (Joint Committee on Geographic Education 1984).

As a dynamic function of many geographical analyses, movement is receiving increasing attention particularly in investigations involving geographic information systems, visualization, and cartography. A key element in this research is how to store historic and anticipated geographic data effectively so that one can trace and analyze changes in an area and ultimately do temporal modeling and simulation of geographic processes (Langran 1992; Peuquet and Duan 1995). The development of new and more powerful visualization tools such as computer animation and three-dimensional modeling has allowed geographers to better understand dynamic phenomena by incorporating change in space and through time with the use of movement, perspective shading, and shadows (DiBiase et al. 1992). Improvements to these computerized tools in their spatio-temporal capabilities have facilitated greater understanding of complex dynamic processes at multiple geographical scales. However, before a comprehensive conceptualizations of movement can be made, the individual components of motion must first be abstracted. Once the underlying attributes of geographic movement are more fully understood, then significant progress towards performing integrative and insightful analyses and visualizations of complex, spatially dynamic processes can be achieved.

The key to improved understanding of geographic movement is to transcend specific examples and to establish the significance of some general principles and concepts inherent to diverse geographic phenomena. As an important and useful generalization step in conceptualizing a subject matter, geographers have long relied on categorization to place order on a chaotic world. …

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