"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Cognition of Geographic Information and Human Spatial Orientation and Navigation in an Age of GIS and Virtual Reality: Locomotion Wayfinding and Systems of Reference

One critical area of scientific inquiry that bears directly on our ongoing analysis of ancient rock art, megaliths, mounds, earthworks etc. as land survey markers sited by astronomy is the question of human spatial and geographic orientation in a given environment and the role of systems of reference used for this purpose. Far too little research has been devoted to this topic and it is the kind of thing that research foundations should be sponsoring and funding.

We refer here to fundamental articles in Robert B. McMaster & E.Lynn Usery (eds.), 2004/2005. A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, 402 p., ISBN-13: 978-0849327285 ISBN-10: 0849327288, eBook ISBN 978-1-4200-3833-0

and especially to Chapter 3 by Daniel R. Montello and Scott Freundschuh on the Cognition of Geographic Information, where they write, inter alia:
"Cognitive research about space and place has focused on several issues:  the responses of sensory systems that pick up spatial information, the development of spatial knowledge from birth to adulthood (ontogenesis) and upon first exposure to a new place (microgenesis), the accuracy and precision of knowledge about distances and directions, spatial language, cognitive structures and processes used during navigation, and perceptual and cognitive issues in cartography, and very recently, GIS. With the advent of new technologies like GIS, new questions about spatial perception and cognition develop, and old questions (both basic and applied) become focused in new ways. 
One of the most basic concepts in this area is that of the cognitive map. Introduced by Tolman (1948) in his work with rat spatial behavior, the cognitive map is a mental representation, or set of representations, of the spatial layout of the environment. According to Downs and Stea (1973), “cognitive mapping is a process composed of a series of psychological transformations by which an individual acquires, stores, recalls, and decodes information about the relative locations and attributes of phenomena in his [or her] everyday spatial environment” (p. 9). The cartographic map thus serves as a metaphor for spatial and environmental knowledge. Other metaphors have been offered as well, from topological schemata to cognitive collage (see Montello & Freundschuh, 1995). GIS and virtual reality provide our latest metaphors for environmental knowledge. 
Cognitive researchers are interested in comparing various sources of geographical knowledge. Montello and Freundschuh (1995) review the characteristics of acquiring knowledge from direct environmental experience, static pictorial representations such as maps (see Thorndyke & Hayes-Roth, 1982), dynamic pictorial representations (movies, animations), and language (see Taylor & Tversky, 1992). Montello and Freundschuh listed eight factors that may play roles in differentiating these sources of geographic information: sensorimotor
systems involved, static vs. dynamic information, sequential vs. simultaneous acquisition, the arbitrariness of symbols, the need for scale translations and their flexibility, viewing perspective, precision of presented information, and the inclusion of detail varying in relevance.
It is commonly thought that spatial knowledge of the environment consists of three types of features: knowledge of discrete landmarks, knowledge of routes that connect landmarks into travel sequences, and configurational or survey knowledge that coordinates and metrically scales routes and landmarks. In fact, inspired by Piagetian theory, it has often been suggested that these features represent a necessary learning sequence (Siegel & White, 1975; for an opposing view, see Montello, 1998). Landmarks in particular are thought to play an important role as anchor-points or reference points for the organization of environmental knowledge (Sadalla, Burroughs, & Staplin, 1980; Couclelis, Golledge, Gale, & Tobler, 1987).

Spatial cognition researchers have studied human navigation and orientation (Golledge, 1999). Navigation is coordinated and goal directed movement through space. It may be understood to consist of both locomotion and wayfinding processes.

Locomotion refers to perceptual-motor coordination to the local surrounds, and includes activities such as moving towards visible targets and avoiding obstacles.
Wayfinding refers to cognitive coordination to the distant environment, beyond direct sensorimotor access, and includes activities such as trip planning and route choice. Humans navigate and stay oriented both by recognizing landmarks (piloting) and by updating their sense of location via dead reckoning processes
(Gallistel, 1990; Loomis, Klatzky, Golledge, & Philbeck, 1999). Some of these processes are relatively automatic (Rieser, Pick, Ashmead, & Garing, 1995), while others are more like conscious strategies (Cornell, Heth, & Rowat, 1992).

A fundamental issue about human orientation concerns the systems of reference that people use to organize their spatial knowledge. Various possible systems have been discussed, including those that encode spatial relations with respect to the body, with respect to an external feature with or without differentiated appearance, or with respect to an abstract frame like latitude-longitude (Hart & Moore, 1973; Levinson, 1996). Several researchers have investigated reference systems within the context of verbal route directions (Allen, 1997)."

Most Popular Posts of All Time

Sky Earth Native America

Sky Earth Native America 1 :
American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
Volume 1, Edition 2, 266 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Sky Earth Native America 2 :
    American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
    Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
    Volume 2, Edition 2, 262 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Both volumes have the same cover except for the labels "Volume 1" viz. "Volume 2".
    The image on the cover was created using public domain space photos of Earth from NASA.


    Both book volumes contain the following basic book description:
    "Alice Cunningham Fletcher observed in her 1902 publication in the American Anthropologist
    that there is ample evidence that some ancient cultures in Native America, e.g. the Pawnee in Nebraska,
    geographically located their villages according to patterns seen in stars of the heavens.
    See Alice C. Fletcher, Star Cult Among the Pawnee--A Preliminary Report,
    American Anthropologist, 4, 730-736, 1902.
    Ralph N. Buckstaff wrote:
    "These Indians recognized the constellations as we do, also the important stars,
    drawing them according to their magnitude.
    The groups were placed with a great deal of thought and care and show long study.
    ... They were keen observers....
    The Pawnee Indians must have had a knowledge of astronomy comparable to that of the early white men."
    See Ralph N. Buckstaff, Stars and Constellations of a Pawnee Sky Map,
    American Anthropologist, Vol. 29, Nr. 2, April-June 1927, pp. 279-285, 1927.
    In our book, we take these observations one level further
    and show that megalithic sites and petroglyphic rock carving and pictographic rock art in Native America,
    together with mounds and earthworks, were made to represent territorial geographic landmarks
    placed according to the stars of the sky using the ready map of the starry sky
    in the hermetic tradition, "as above, so below".
    That mirror image of the heavens on terrestrial land is the "Sky Earth" of Native America,
    whose "rock stars" are the real stars of the heavens, "immortalized" by rock art petroglyphs, pictographs,
    cave paintings, earthworks and mounds of various kinds (stone, earth, shells) on our Earth.
    These landmarks were placed systematically
    in North America, Central America (Meso-America) and South America
    and can to a large degree be reconstructed as the Sky Earth of Native America."

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