International Planning Studies, 15(1) pp 75-77
As the title of the book suggests, this is an introductory text to the fundamental aspects of the geographic and cartographic concepts that provide the basis for all GIS. However, it is not a traditional GIS textbook per se; in fact, it does not really discuss GIS technology in any substantive sense until chapter thirteen, less than fifty pages from the end. Instead, the book goes back to first principles and places GIS in its theoretical and scientific frameworks in order to prepare students to use and understand GIS. Hence it is not simply another technical guide but rather an important contribution to the existing literature and is aimed particularly for students who are new to GIS and have not been brought up in a tradition of thinking and reasoning geographically. Many GIS textbooks on the market do not do justice to the fundamental concepts underpinning GIS and as a result, many students and practitioners often do not make full use of the potential of GIS, or even worse, apply GIS in a way that is incorrect, erroneous or fallacious. A good example of this is the relatively little attention given to maps and map making in most GIS textbooks, despite the fact that this is a major application of GIS, particularly in the planning professions. The growing use and availability of GIS, GI data and websites that allow users to create their own maps means that there has been a democratization of map making but also a proliferation of poorly designed, inadequate and misleading maps (Kraak & Brown, 2001). This primer tackles this lack of understanding of the basic principles of geographic and cartographic concepts and provides the beginner as Book Reviews 75 well as the more advanced GIS user with the knowledge to bridge the gap between the conceptual and the practical in GIS.