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This phrase has recently been advanced as a comprehensive description of the various fields represented at this meeting and this community, but what exactly does it mean (and how should it be translated?) There are two distinct meanings in English: adding to the body of scientific knowledge using the tools of our trade, and the body of scientific knowledge that makes those tools possible. After a few examples of the former, the presentation focuses on the latter: on the empirical principles that are observed to govern the geographic world; on the uncertainties inherent in representing that world; and on the approaches that a cautious and informed user should take in navigating the relationship between that world and its representations.