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Observation, observation, observation

Denise Pumain
Traduction de Emma Maisonnave
Cet article est une traduction de :
Observation, observation, observation

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1After having deplored for a long time the rarity, the slow pace of preparation and the lack of access to what seemed to be mountainous terrains, big data has been created, emerging in fluid masses, wave after wave, to become a new sphere of knowledge, useful for human and social sciences. Because many of the systems that record them contain a geo-positioning device - from the GPS, the mobile phone, the surveillance cameras, sensors hidden in vehicles or scattered in the environment to the virtual positioning of texts and dialogues displayed on the web or in spaces of connective or semantic proximity, geography plays a big part in the analysis and treatment of these new types of information.

2Big data, which are electronic footprints we leave behind on all digital networks, contain indications of our presence, yet they are far from being sufficient: can we really rely on them to reveal our preferences and our movements, how accurate are they? To capitalize on their full potential, new types of research are required at all levels: the careful observation of technologies and services which produce massive quantities of data, whose purposes rarely imply improving social knowledge; the (participatory) observation of the practices and customs which make use of or distort their functionalities; the observation of the input of their analysis to pre-existing knowledge obtained with other methods and indicators. Big data gives us very subtle information on the reciprocal shaping of territorial structures and practices and of representations in unequally hyper-mobile societies; it would be a shame for us to only rediscover the pertinence of the gravity model through their analysis. Furthermore, the detection of risks linked to unethical uses, to the invasion of privacy, to the confiscation of information and to its misinterpretation is also required.

3So is big data going to lead us to big discoveries? Geography should get its share if we are able to collaborate in multi-disciplinary teams and to reproduce our concepts with the help of methods ranging from the classic survey to the exploratory analyses of massive data, from visualization tools to the modeling of spatial and temporal changes. Paradoxically it seems, digitization has transformed, more than ever, our discipline into a science of observation.

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Référence électronique

Denise Pumain, « Observation, observation, observation », Cybergeo : European Journal of Geography [En ligne], Éditoriaux, mis en ligne le 27 mars 2014, consulté le 30 avril 2017. URL : http://cybergeo.revues.org/26261

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Auteur

Denise Pumain

Université de Paris 1Professeurpumain@parisgeo.cnrs.fr

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