AGI Thoughts

The Paleotards have spoken..

I was trying to be positive I really was… picture the scene the final session of the AGI conference, had descended into the usual case of introspective soul searching, what is a GI professional ?, why does nobody listen to us ?, these newcomers don’t understand the complexity of what we do, and their data stinks, and bizarrely we should stop fighting amongst ourselves…

I felt is was like the last meeting of Association of Empire Telegraph Operators, bemoaning the fact that these new wireless equipment operators could not write Morse code as quickly.

I tried to be a little more upbeat in my comments, I really do believe that this is a time of great opportunity for the GIS industry, GI professionals are the gate keepers of huge amounts of useful geospatial information and knowledge which people are desperate to get access to, but need help to do so… if every there was a grand challenge for an industry that is it.

But no, there was to be no happy ending, at the very end of the conference as Adena has pointed out, the members of the AGI decided to award the prize for the best paper of the conference to Mark Bishop of MapInfo, and his paper “The Hype of Web 2.0”..

Like her I just don’t understand it, OK so the term is rather overused by now, but we have as a community benefited hugely from the technology and business shift that was Web 2.0, do we really want to go back to the GIS business of the late 1990’s.. well I guess maybe the AGI membership does…

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.

16 replies on “The Paleotards have spoken..”

Hi Ed,

I sat a few seats along from you at the AGI â??08 “Big Debate” and I agree with your thoughts about the benefits and challenges that web mapping technologies bring to the GIS industry. As a software developer and GI professional I don’t see any cause for concern. The contributions from Google and Microsoft open up GI and GIS capabilities to the masses, which can only be a benefit to the industry. At the same time, despite claims to the opposite by some speakers at the conference, GI professionals have not been replaced by these technologies. Integrating GI science with enhanced visualisation capabilities and familiar UI experiences will allow us to produce the most powerful and useful applications ever. This is an exciting opportunity to bring benefits of geography to everyone’s lives, and will open up new commercial opportunities for those in the industry who embrace the technology.


This just reflects the issue of change again. GI is changing…as it does…as does all technology. People seldom tend to, as a whole, change at the same pace of technology and methodology. Some will. Some will not.
Some cannot. The GI industry is made up of a range of people who in many cases have transposed from other legacy or associated geo walks of life. I hear alot of frustrated cahtter now from GI people in the same way that I have heard frustrated chatter from Surveyors throughtout my working life. Boring and self-affected moaning about nothing more than losing control and losing grip. This is why we ended up with the rapidly fabricated term of Geomatics. Created to regain the grip on someting by surveyors; aimed at bundling anything “geo” into one bag which could be managed by “professional surveyors”. Please let us not fall into our own Paleo soup.

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