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Spotlight On ... The teleconference and its implications for geographical knowledge-sharing

Journal article
Authors Gordon Waitt
Michael Adams
Jenny Atchison
Lesley Head
Michael Jones
Pat Macquarie
Katarina Saltzman
Gunhild Setten
Marie Stenseke
Published in Geography
Volume 97
Issue 1
Pages 42-46
ISSN 0016-7487
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Conservation
Department of Human and Economic Geography
Pages 42-46
Language en
Keywords geography, new technology, knowledge sharing
Subject categories Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified


The teleconference is now being applied in the broadband contexts of the minority world, or Global North1, by both geography teachers and researchers as well as by conference and seminar organisers. The implications for how teleconference technology transforms physical distance has long been considered in relation to businesses (Rosetti and Surynt, 1985) and teaching (Sherry, 1996). Here, we consider some wider implications for geographical knowledge-sharing that arise from teleconference technologies on the basis of a seminar series on landscape research between nine scholars who are simultaneously located in Sweden, Norway and Australia. What are the implications of virtual travel for geographical knowledge-sharing? Does the teleconference provide a route that satisfies the desire to be physically co-present with peers, while at the same time offering emancipation from the tyrannies of physical distance in geographical knowledge- sharing? This article explores these questions in two sections. The first outlines the importance of intermittent face-to-face meetings in conveying geographical knowledge and describes the teleconference seminar context that encouraged us to think about the importance of physical propinquity. The second section discusses our experiences and reflections on the teleconference as a knowledge-sharing technology that transformed physical co-presence. We conclude by discussing the wider geographical implications of applying teleconference technologies.

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