Geografie 2003, 108, 227-233

Virtual space in geography

Tadeusz Siwek

Katedra sociální geografie a regionálního rozvoje, Přírodovědecká fakulta Ostravské univerzity, Dvořákova 7, 701 030 Ostrava, Czechia

Modern people more and more frequently experience imaginary virtual space. Thanks to computers we can not only imagine it now. Virtual world is obviously a topic of fantasy literature but can it be a topic of serious scientific research, too? Yes, it can. Simulations, prognoses and models are undoubtedly scientific tools but they do not represent the real world. One kind of virtual construction is a counterfactual one. It is an alternative simulation of reality. The historical fact is the one that has realized out of many possibilities. One fact even less probable than the others becomes a historic event and it is the only one that is worthy to be a topic of scientific analysis. Many historians are historian determinists - they write about historical events as they have happened. Virtual constructions can be used in advertisement, propaganda, teaching and science (including geography) as well. Several current positions of historical literature evidence that counterfactual analyses are very popular (see examples in the list of literature). Some counterfactual attitudes have been used in teaching at the Ostrava University since 2002. They are: alternative scenarios of development of America in seminars in regional geography and exercises of alternative perception of the problem of Teschen Silesia divided in 1920 between Poland and Czechoslovakia. They are still more topics for virtual or counterfactual analysis in the field of Czech geography, predominantly historical and political geography.