We are currently writing a technical report on all things geographic and coming to write the term ‘Neogeography’ has to be honest become painful. Sure, we have written many papers and book chapters on the topic but perhaps its one to lay to rest as we try to explain below…
The ability to mine data via new emerging methodologies for the collection, analysis and leverage of spatially related information is gathering pace and entering the main stream of social science. The key to this is three fold, firstly the move of information into the digital domain with datasets previously limited to corporations or local government organizations becoming available online, this is a recent trend. Secondly the rise of Neogeography, volunteered geographic information, crowd sourcing and citizen science above and beyond the traditional geographic domain. Thirdly the development of new toolkits that take advantage of various application programming interfaces (API’s) to allow non-programmers to quickly and easily mix, match and visualize datasets which would of previously been prohibitively technical. Such activites as a whole can be defined as Neogeography, the term derives from Eisnor (2006) one of the founders of www.platial.com where she defines it (Neogeography) as ‘…a diverse set of practices that operate outside, or alongside, or in a manner of, the practices of professional geographers.
Rather than making claims on scientific standards, methodologies of Neogeography tend towards intuitive, expressive, personal, absurd, and/or/ artistic, but may just be idiosyncratic applications of ‘real’ geographic techniques. This is not to say that these practices are of no use to the cartographic/geographic sciences, but they just usually do not conform the protocols of professional practice’. We see this as key to the renaissance of geographic information, the term Neogeography is perhaps of its time, in a similar manner that ‘Cyberspace’ is now rarely used. The importance is the trend towards the intuitive, expressive, personal, absurd, and/or/ artistic use of data without worrying, or indeed caring, about standards. A term to replace Neogeography? Perhaps there is not a need for one, its all about visualising spatial data, is there a need for a term that distinguishes between the professional and the non-professional, we would argue not.
Neogeography was 2006-2009, perhaps its time to leave it there.