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We live in a world transformed by big (geo)data: from Facebook likes and satellites, to Oyster cards and drones, the process of collecting and analysing data about the world around us is becoming very, very cheap. Twenty years ago, gathering data about the human and physical environment was expensive, but now a lot of it is generated as the ‘exhaust’ of day-to-day activity: tapping on to the bus or train, taking photos (whether from a satellite, drone, or disposable camera), making phone calls, using our credit cards, and surfing the web. As the costs of capturing, curating, and processing these data sets falls, the discipline of geography is changing; so in this short, deliberately provocative, piece I hope to get you thinking about how the rise of ‘cheap’ creates opportunities that geography students are uniquely positioned to observe, but perhaps poorly trained to exploit.

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Why the Future of Geography is Cheap


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