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Chapter 1

GEO 106 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Rush Hour, Koch Snowflake, Chaos Theory

Course Code
GEO 106
Elizabeth Carlson

of 4
Chapter One
-Attempts to describe, explain, predict and prescribe what goes on in the world,
especially the world as it affects humans and the way humans affect the world
Pattison’s four Traditions:
1)Spatial Tradition: nature of location, space, place, distance, direction and the
orientation of humans and the environments in which they have to function. General
patterns of human settlement.
2) Area studies tradition: differentiating regions or places based on given sets of
attributes. How does one differ from another in terms of culture, demographics,
economics, etc. Describe the unique attributes of places rather than to explain any
general patterns.
3) Human land tradition: how humans affect environments and how environments
affect humans (how we perceive, use and abuse environments, and ultimately
affected by environment). Focused on managing the environment and the two way
impacts between us and it, recognizing that we and it are actually one thing.
4) Earth studies tradition: physical structure of the earth (atmosphere,
hydrosphere, lithosphere, biosphere) and the relationships among them. Physical
processes that constitute the plant.
Cultural relativity: truths are relative and based on an individual’s interpretation
of situations, facts, and observations. People make their judgments within a frame of
reference - they compare what they perceive with what they know or expect to be
the case, they make spatial decisions and act.
Cognitive Filtering: we are likely to see what we want to see as what actually
exists. There is no guarantee that any single correct interpretation of an event
actually exists at all. Any event or situation we perceive is filtered by our
preconceived sets of suppositions, by our cultural biases and demographic
attributes and by our personality traits, to give different interpretations of what we
Research Praxis: the basic research praxis is to answer the six fundamental
questions of journalism: what, where, when, who, how and why?. First four are
descriptive, last two are explanatory.
The research steps: Describe, Explain, Predict, Prescribe.
SPACE: extent or area on the earth’s surface with all of its complexities (concrete).
The earth’s surface as represented by points, lines, and areas. Prescribing how
things should be and for developing normative models. Distance and direction are
important aspects. (abstract space)
Social space separated into groups based on friendship, program, attraction.
DISTANCE: spatial dimension of separation thus it is seen as a barrier to interaction.
Distance can be measured objectively: absolute distance
-measured in standard units such as centimeters or kilometers
-has the property of symmetry
Distance can be measured subjectively: relative distance
-does not necessarily have symmetry
-measured by time, effort, dollar cost, psychological hassle.
Five types of distances:
1)Linear: straight line or mileage measurement
2) Time: distance in terms of travel time
3) Cognitive: distance in terms of your perception of the travel
4)Cultural: separation between you and others due to socioeconomic, ethnic, and
other characteristics.
5)Social : physical distance between people during interactions.
DIRECTION: refers to the relative position of two places or objects in space. It can
be absolute when it is given with reference to a specific coordinate system such as
longitude/latitude (the runway is 250 degrees) or in compass (ed. North-northeast
of Toronto). Or it can be relative such as “down east” “far east” “east asia” and
“southeast Asia”.
LOCATION: refers to a particular position within space. May be absolute when the
position is defined in terms of standard coordinates, such as latitude and longitude.
Relative: position is given with respect to other locations.
Often relative locations refer to connectedness and accessibility (subway station,
-For any piece of land, characteristics related to the absolute location are called site
-for any characteristics of relative location are called situation characteristics (close
to market, surrounded by low income housing, near highway)
PLACE: refers to a position with a unique set of attributes. The attributes make the
location into a place. Location as it is known in its essential meaningfulness in
everyday life.
Front Country and Back Country.
-Front Country: areas when we are on our best behaviors such as dealing with the
public, friends. We dress according to what would be expected by us. Most of the
areas we use are front country: classrooms, living rooms, restaurants, malls,
theatres, streets etc. Front country behavior varies with culture.
-Back country environments would be bathrooms, bedrooms, houses, cars.
Friction of distance: the tendency of a pattern or process to decrease with distance.
Distance decay: “everything is related to everything else but near things are more
related than distant things”. (can also be outlined in gravity model)
Gravity Model: distance decay relationship between objects in the social universe is
similar to that of the physical universe. Bodies are attracted to one another in
proportion to the distance between them.
Arrow of time: you cannot go backwards, sideways, or remain stationary in time,
you can only move forward. The arrow of time constraints when you can be where
in space and leads us to the related constructs of the time space totality.
When we take the arrow of time and add it to space we get time space totality.
-we all have specific time space totality in which we must function, we have certain
obligatory activities we must do at a certain time in particular places, and we have
access to only a limited number of transportation options all of which take time. (the
time space prism)
-the time space within which paths of movement can be constructed, are called time
space paths.
-series of events that you can chose are not discretionary events
-events you must participate in obligatory events.
-changes in technology has increased the speed at which space van be covered by
more people. Over time places have moved closer in terms of distance measure of
time. (time space convergence Janelle 1986
-technology has also brought people together in terms of culture, the closer the
relative distance measure of social distance (time space distantiation-giddings
-income has an affect on how fast space is covered
SCALE: level of representation of reality.
Map scales: represent the relationship between distance on a map and distance on
the ground.
-measure how big (size), intensity, how things relate
- in chaos theory the answer to the question “how long is a one foot ruler” is how
long do you want it to be”
-reality was relative to scale, minute changes in variables could have over the long
term, extraordinary effects on the system (butterfly Canadian weather minute
changes in air pressure by wings over long term.. a long chain of cause and effect)
-“Koch Snowflake” (effects on scale): a figure compromised of triangles. By adding
triangles to the original triangle corners we are increasing the length of the edge of
the snowflake and it in turn has the potential to become infinitely long but never
exceed the area it was drawn in. An infinite long line surrounds a finite area