Geobrowsing: Creative thinking and knowledge discovery using geographic visualization

Donna J. Peuquet, Menno Jan Kraak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


In the modern computing context, the map is no longer just a final product. Maps are now being used in a fundamentally different way – as a self-directed tool for deriving the desired information from geographic data. This, along with developments in GIScience and computer graphics, have led to the new field of geographic visualization. A central issue is how to design visualization capabilities that, as a process, facilitate creative thinking for discovering previously new information from large databases. The authors propose the term ‘geobrowsing’ to designate this process. A number of interrelated ways that visualization can be used to spark the imagination in order to derive new insights are discussed and a brief example provided. Based upon the cognitive literature, specific properties of a visual image that promote discovery and insight are discussed. These are known as preinventive properties, and include; novelty, incongruence, abstraction, and ambiguity. All of these properties, either individually or in combination, tend to produce features that are unanticipated by the viewer, and often not explicitly created or anticipated by the person generating the visual display. While traditional (i.e. non-computer generated) images can also possess these properties, as shown in the historical examples in this discussion, it is the capability of the viewer to directly and quickly manipulate these properties that provides the real power of ‘geobrowsing’ for uncovering new insights.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-91
Number of pages12
JournalInformation Visualization
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition


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