I have been invited to give a talk at the Annual International Conference of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), taking place between the 27th and the 29th of August at the RGS-IGB headquarters in London. My talk, titled "Mobile 3D Urban Modelling and Visualisation", part of the Geospatial Analysis: GIS & Agent-Based Models session is on Friday the 29th.
The theme of the conference itself is outlined as "Geographies That Matter"; geography has always declared itself as a 'worldly' subject in some way, shape or form. In their attempts to describe, explain, evaluate, map, measure, monitor, model, theorise and reconstruct the world, geographers routinely make decisions about what matters - to themselves and others in the wider society.
The conference theme is an invitation to place geography in its current context and to consider its medium-term future. Like all research and teaching subjects, geography evolves through the combined, relatively ungoverned acts of its many practitioners. But, periodically, it is worth standing back and looking critically, as well as appreciatively, at the 'drift' of the field. What geographies matter to geographers and why? Which ought to be the focus of our energies? How do answers relate to the geographies valued (or not) by social actors in the wider world, communities, states, corporations, publics and many others besides?
The discipline of geography is much smaller than the discourse of geography, a discourse comprising all those geographical knowledges and representations of the world produced and disseminated by myriad actors who are not in any formal sense 'geographers'. The geographies that matters to geographers and others sometimes coincide, sometimes not, raising the perennial question of the subject's wider role in socio-environmental change, conservation and transformation.
What are the geographies that matter, to who and why? And what is the role of geographical research, teaching and advocacy in respect of them? These questions oblige us not to be overly introspective but, rather, to look outwards to a world bursting with possibility, challenge, interest and danger.
Check the conference out at http://www.rgs.org/AC2008