Sunday, September 8, 2013

Current Knowledge Production and the Effect on Geographical Learning

Schuurman, N. (2012). Tweet me your talk: Geographical learning and knowledge production 2.0. The Professional Geographer, doi: 10.1080/00330124.2012.693873


An important characteristic about the human brain is it's flexibility, or brain plasticity. The human brain is capable of restructuring and rewiring itself as a response to exposure and usage of knowledge and experiences. For example, brain scans of taxi drivers displayed larger hippocampi than control subjects, presumably due to their significant increase in spatial knowledge. 

Today, people in developed countries spend an enormous amount of time browsing the Internet for answers. Most of the time, people spend only 19-21 seconds on a Webpage before moving to the next one. In academia, students and professors research with Google and online journal databases more often than with hard copy books and journals.

Online journal databases are responding to the new style of researching information. As seen below, databases such as the Journal of Health Geographics have created Web formats that encourage users to view articles under labels such as most viewed or most forwarded. While this may allow researchers to find articles quickly and effectively, it also establishes a form of collectivism and discards other articles that may be sufficient. 

While we have successfully rewired our brains to excel at activities such as skimming or searching for keywords, we have consequently lost the ability to concentrate, to focus, and to fully absorb knowledge and information.We prefer PowerPoint to lectures, and would rather browse the Internet for hours than pick up a good book. 

Although these methods are useful for deciphering the growing amount of information we have access to, we have to acknowledge the price that is paid and consider, how much does our brain need to change?


  1. While GIS technology is an amazing resource that allows us to analyze and recognize geographical relationships and correlations much easier than we would otherwise be able to, how is it affecting our already decreased focus?

  2. I read an article a week ago about how social networking affects the brain similarly to falling in love. I also read a few things about how we can see the effects of this kind of information in our anxiety-laden culture, sleep issues, and a general lack of internal solutions for external problems. What are other external problems that technology could pose for us?

  3. Kendall, in regards to your point I think that GIS has a correlation to the how we now receive and view information. It is visual, attractive, and informative without providing too much text.