GIS Thoughts

Eisenstein at a GIS conference?

Battleship Potemkin

It is rare indeed that you are treated to the famous Odessa steps scene of the classic Eisenstein film Battleship Potemkin at a GIS conference.. then Terra Future was not trying to be a normal GIS conference!

As I have often argued here, the GI industry is too insular in its thinking, and needs to look elsewhere to really innovate.. hence Terra Future.

Eisenstein’s classic silent film was presented by Daniel Erasmus, a fellow of the Rotterdam School of Management and co-founder and director of the Digital Thinking Network. He made the point.. that with most media we are familiar with today, the makers and the medium itself, is sophisticated enough to obtain a emotional response from their audience, who after-all could not be moved by the scene of the small boy trampled on the steps or the shooting of his mother by the Cossacks – but as Daniel pointed out when did you last see a website or digital content which prompted a similar emotional response in you ?

There is still some work to do.

Mike Liebhold is well known to the new generation of Geo hackers and the open source GI movement from his presentations at Where 2.0 and the Location Intelligence Conference. Mike focused in on the potential impact of both open source tools and data, and the importance of standards based, non proprietary storage of information, making the excellent point that it may be difficult to develop RDF based semantic web applications when the data is held in “closed” GIS systems.

Robin Mannings a returning speaker from last year, reflected on the convergence of ubiquitous computing, positioning technologies and geographic information to provide a platform for the next generation of GI applications – perhaps using the human body as an important part of the hardware of such a system. As might be expected,sadly, this was the only element of the whole day picked up my the mainstream press (The Daily Express) who described Robin as a “scientific astrologer” – Its enough to make you want to give up !!!

Daily Express

There were many more interesting workshops during the day which looked into other societal changes expected in the future and how the needs of the market for geographic information will change over the next decades. Look out for the Terra Future podcasts in the next month of so..

It is vital that as an industry we focus of better understanding the future needs of the market and continue the fundamental research in both Computer and Information Science. The innovation we have seen over the last year from the likes of GYM and the growing band of community driven mapping is after-all built on the work of the research of 30 years ago… GPS, Relational Databases, Network Topology, Remote Sensing etc.

I’d like to use this posting as a opportunity to thank everybody involved in another successful event and in particular to thank the speakers and delegates who really made the day the great success it was.

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

3 replies on “Eisenstein at a GIS conference?”

Hi Ed

Just wanted to thank Ordnance Survey for an excellent event, certainly a lot of ‘food for thought’.

In the context of the ‘semantic web’ we should also consider how digital images are handled. While tagging images is popular (flickr etc) there is relatively little structure. Do you take the ‘wisdom of crowds’ approach (similar to flickr) or attempt to impose a struture for tagging images. Having location (along with date/time) is a start, but tagging the content of an image is a real challenge for example in what way could I tag this image: so that relevant OS data could be integrated with it?

Hi Tim,

Interesting point, I’m not sure that a completely people driven tagging system actually works as your example image illustrates, it could be, a shopping street, a shopping street in london, an up market shopping street in london, new bond street or just Fred the jewellers..

Hi Ed
I agree, the issue with image tagging is it can be so subjective. Another approach could be to tag the image with OS co-ords or even TOID’s so that there is some degree of commonality between our images and other databases, but again this looks like a big manual task! To start with we planning to do some basic content tagging such as Pub-Coach and Horses, Station-Warren Street, Shop-Fred etc and then develop from there. In reality I think our images sit somewhere in the middle between massively structured datasets such as OS mastermap and ‘wisdom of crowds’ type tagging at the other extreme.

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