Reserch Topics for Spatial and Temporal Information Science

abstract: FILL_dyAbstract

I am a "harvester of low hanging fruit" (reason: short arms, fear of ladders) and definitely not interested in "mopping up science" [@Kuhn1962]. What are the topics I was dreaming about the past years which are still not completed?

Red - Green Lists of Research Topics

Topics I am not interested in are, in general terms, topics where the foundation is laid, but the solution is incomplete and needs some improvement.

To clarify what I mean: The 4-intersection model from Egenhofer [@Egenhofer1989c; @Egenhofer1991g] was far from perfect. Egenhofer et al. completed to the 9-intersection model, using the same approach. This was still not perfect; a long list of "improvements" followed (by Egenhofer and his students and many, many others - I fear I have also made some contributions to this list) - very often without a clear understanding what imperfection to address, why and how.

COSIT stasis and narrowing

Clare Davis wrote in an email:

And I agree that the whole idea of what we mean by 'theory' should be shifting, not just because of the computational changes (deep learning etc.). Year on year, many COSIT submissions seem to me to be heading towards repetitive stasis, not reflecting innovative theoretical thinking anymore. Also, it's lost most of the quality psychology/ neuroscience to Spatial Cognition. (19 may 2020) I am impressed with the clarity of the analysis; I see two points: - stasis, and - lost other neighboring disciplines. The two questions are related: my feeling of too much "mopping up science" is likely what Davis calls "stasis"; observing that the interdisciplinary research between geography and psychology and neuroscience has become its own topic (with conference and journal) should, in my assessment, be counted as a success of COSIT (and the persons involved!).

The question is then, what are new "low hanging fruit" interdisciplinary research topics, or, rather, what are old ones not yet completed?

Open topics from years ago

My dreams 20 some years ago:

Losing topics from the COSIT inventory

Any of these interdisciplinary topics could develop to a larger body of research with several fundamental contribution and lots of mopping up afterwards. In some of the areas there is research going on which could be assisted by the way GIscience looks at space.

GI What?

Montello wrote in an email (in the same discussion):

a large portion of GIScience is more like science (or policy) with GIS rather than science of GIS. (email may 19, 2020)

There is, in my mind, a difference between a "substantial science" (terminology of Brian XX) and GIscience. For me, the above topics are examples where novel aspects of understanding space in general could result - the topic is just the ladder used. GIscience is interested in the theory used to address the substantial science question; the substantial scientist is only interested in the result. GIscience is interested in generalizing the insight to make it applicable to other "substantive sciences".

The situation is perhaps comparable to role of mathematics plays as a tool to help "substantive sciences".

What I have done the past 20 years?

In search of "low hanging fruit" for interdisciplinary research of the type I am interested in I have branched out from my past research topics (spatial relatiosn, etc.) and invested in:


  1. There seems already a substantial movements: In Cresswell’s definition “GeoHumanities [is] a new interdisciplinary endeavor with space and place at its heart that links decades of critical thought following the spatial turn to new developments in our digital capabilities”. [Matthew GRAVES et Gilles TEULIÉ, « Histories of Space, Spaces of History - Introduction », E-rea [En ligne], 14.2 | 2017, mis en ligne le 15 juin 2017, consulté le 22 mai 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/erea/5875]↩︎

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