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Geodata suppliers – lessons from the music industry..

I got myself in trouble on a number of occasions with my old boss when I drew the obvious comparisons between the Geodata industry and the Music Industry, and how Geodata providers needed to move with the times..

It is therefore interesting to see that a least one music industry boss is recognising the mistakes of the past/present… to quote Edgar Bronfman of Warner Music..

“We used to fool ourselves…We used to think our content was perfect just exactly as it was. We expected our business would remain blissfully unaffected even as the world of interactivity, constant connection and file sharing was exploding. And of course we were wrong. How were we wrong? By standing still or moving at a glacial pace, we inadvertently went to war with consumers by denying them what they wanted and could otherwise find and as a result of course, consumers won.”

Remember this is not always about making information free, it is about making it accessible..

There is a lesson there for leadership of a number of .gov.uk organisations don’t you think ?

Written and submitted from Starbucks, Horseferry Road, using my three 3G modem.

22 replies on “Geodata suppliers – lessons from the music industry..”

Hi Tony

It’s an interesting point you make and must be worth at least three mugs, as for the parking in central London near Google’s offices well you are talking real money there. How many master map tiles could you buy from OS for that kind of money? Not the entire data set of the UK that’s for sure, if you are in the private sector!

As for the second coming I see this much as an extension or evolution to existing GI methods and technologies and not as a replacement or for camps to develop into “a them and us situation”. Those that may be set in their ways are right to be concerned, the Paleo lot. How many of them have true map making skills and can make maps without the aid of a computer, or GPS or other electronic aids? Not that many these days. I welcome the new entrants into the GIS community, be they concerned with API or map data or the methods employed in GI systems, all have contributions to make for the good of GIS. I have little time for people who stick themselves like glue to the Paleo camp and are not open to new methods and technologies. I dont think a high-powered meeting at some location would be much use, but I do welcome an open debate via the web that is open to all and is rolling. My first introduction to GIS was 28 years ago and I could say my roots are in the Paleo camp, equally I started computer programming 20 years ago which could put me in the Neo camp.

As we have seen in so many industries, GIS has had a positive impact and in a few exceptional cases a negative impact on society. What has stunted the growth of GIS in the UK is the cost of map data and some very inward looking people who should consider retirement. It makes me laugh that some of these old stick in the mud’s who believe if its not ESRI then its not worth having should think again. Well when it comes to the cartographic element of ESRI many including myself were producing maps using the exact same methods but manually, where accuracy and presentation were just as good as if they were produced today, the only difference is that it took a bit longer and a lot more skill and required a printing press. Even today with modern GIS systems I can still plot faster using manual methods than electronic methods. The only real advantages with modern GIS systems are that analysis storage and publishing are quicker, easier and more flexible.

A map that is not published is no good to man or beast, unless the cartographer wants it as a work of art to admire by himself or herself, so the publishing method is irrelevant as long as the map gets published to some audience. What counts for any map, be it paper or electronic is accuracy and readability the medium is largely irrelevant and will depend on the intended audience and use.

As for terms I have little time for them, they are mostly invented to somehow re-describe a technology or method that in most cases has already been invented. The core methods and skills of a true cartographer have not changed in a couple of hundred years. The only difference is that these methods have got an awful lot easier by using modern technology. Nothing wrong with that as I am not one of these people who puts on a white coat and makes everyone feel the person wearing it is important. My view is very simple the more people who use maps to explore the Earth in the pursuit of work or pleasure the better. After all finding your way is an awful lot less stressful than getting lost.

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