Geography Neogeography
Matthew W. Wilson
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 February 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 February 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199874002-0152


The use of the term “neogeography” serves as a shorthand for a range of technical practices and attitudes that embrace ludic and everyday uses of geospatial technologies, amid their general proliferation. While the origins of the early-21st-century use of the term is often attributed to a post on the website Platial by Di-Ann Eisnor in 2006, neogeography has a more extended, if punctuated, provenance. This article will take up this more recent emergence to overview the conditions through which neogeography becomes a response to variants of academic and industrial mapmaking. Neogeography, as a more recent attitude or response, operates at a different rhythm than that of academic publication, and, as such, an overview of the efforts nominally considered neogeographic requires a broader understanding of the modes of production—academic and industrial—as these ideas proliferate. As part of this broadened understanding, this article places neogeography within a continuity of discussions that gained traction in the mid-1990s, under the umbrella subfield of GIS and society. This includes specific debates around participation and democracy, privacy and pervasiveness, and commodification and connectivity. Those promoting the idea of neogeography tend to do so in absence of the history of the industries and academic fields that led to its early-21st-century provenance. This overview article is meant to establish some foundations for such departures.

General Overviews

Although created as preparatory thoughts for a PhD application, Haden 2008 highlights the multiple uses of the word “neogeography,” including more-recent industrial actors that have framed the debate. The bibliography contained within illustrates the range of interests signaled by the term in the 20th century, indicating more generally the incorporation of a broader perspective than was present in conventional geographic inquiry. Modern usage of the term is likely credited to the catalyzing Turner 2006, whose introduction elevates the re-creational possibilities of web-based geographic representation and positions this work as a tacit rejection of traditional modes of cartographic and geotechnical learning as well as the mainstream corporate players such as Esri. The practices of neogeography were organized under an existing series of concerns within academic geography around the geospatial web, or geoweb. This included a response clustered around volunteered geographic information, or VGI. The contours of the uneasy relations between academic pursuits of web-based cartography and geospatial analysis and neogeography can be read in the conversation between Andrew Turner and Michael Goodchild in Wilson and Graham 2013. Contemporaneous with Turner’s introduction, Miller 2006 describes emerging web-based mapping technologies for consumers as a kind of GIS/2, drawing the work of the GIS-and-society movement into conversation with these neogeographic industries. Haklay, et al. 2008 is the first thoroughly academic treatment of the range of these technologies and their relationship to the field of GIScience—and specifically the geoweb, while Crampton 2009 devotes an invited report on the status of cartography in human geography specifically to what the author terms maps 2.0, and Warf and Sui 2010 examines the tensions (specifically around claims to truth) in the transitions and translations between GIS and neogeographic practices.

  • Crampton, Jeremy W. “Cartography: Maps 2.0.” Progress in Human Geography 33.1 (2009): 91–100.

    DOI: 10.1177/0309132508094074

    Places the developments of neogeography and the geoweb in the context of academic cartography and GIS-and-society concerns around the production of spatial knowledge. Describes maps 2.0 as a form of new spatial media.

  • Haden, David. “A Short Enquiry into the Origins and Uses of the Term ‘Neogeography.’” 2008.

    Highlights the multiple uses of the word “neogeography,” including more-recent industrial actors that have framed the debate. Points to the earliest mention of the term “neogeography” in 1922 as a way to describe emerging studies of the Earth’s surface. Available online.

  • Haklay, Muki, Alex Singleton, and Chris Parker. “Web Mapping 2.0: The Neogeography of the GeoWeb.” Geography Compass 2.6 (2008): 2011–2039.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2008.00167.x

    Overviews the state of the industry in terms of new geospatial technologies and data contributing to the geoweb as the variety of neogeographic practices that energize these developments. Suggests key questions about the implications of these developments for GIScience and society.

  • Miller, Christopher C. “A Beast in the Field: The Google Maps Mashup as GIS/2.” Cartographica: The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization 41.3 (2006): 187–199.

    DOI: 10.3138/J0L0-5301-2262-N779

    Proposes and evaluates the creation of the Google Maps application programming interface (API) as an intervention in the GIS-and-society debates, specifically around the creation of alternative GIS, or GIS/2.

  • Turner, Andrew J. Introduction to Neogeography. O’Reilly Short Cuts. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly, 2006.

    Overviews a range of web-based geospatial technologies and data formats for the practice of neogeography and describes the history of map mash-ups since the end of the 20th century.

  • Warf, Barney, and Daniel Sui. “From GIS to Neogeography: Ontological Implications and Theories of Truth.” Annals of GIS 16.4 (2010): 197–209.

    DOI: 10.1080/19475683.2010.539985

    Examines a transition in the models for knowledge and claims to truth, between positions of expertise and public participation.

  • Wilson, Matthew W., and Mark Graham. “Neogeography and Volunteered Geographic Information: A Conversation with Michael Goodchild and Andrew Turner.” Environment and Planning A 45.1 (2013): 10–18.

    DOI: 10.1068/a44483

    Brings forward the debate between VGI and neogeography as a question of professionals versus amateurs, settles old miscommunications, and establishes renewed areas for further thought and development.

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