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June 3, 2007 / Steven Pousty

Can’t we all just get along?

Sitting in a introduction to the OpenSource stack for WhereCamp it was kinda sad how dismissive this crowd can be of all that has come before. I think it is because most of them have not come from GIS they might feel like they have introduced all this new and great stuff. And while I agree they have definetly pushing consumer based mapping light years beyond where it was. Their ability to do this has been made possible through the narrowing of the problem space. Their is still a lot of mapping and “where” that happens outside of this space. I do think the traditional GIS crowd has somewhat brought this on themselves by portraying themselves as the “high priesthood” of GIS and if you don’t do follow along our path and do your time in the Monastarey then you are not worthy.

There could be a lot of synergy here but instead the mistrust and dismissive attitudes on both side really hurts the realm of the possible.
So there is my assessment of the attitude I mentioned in one of my earlier posts…



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  1. Matt Perry / Jun 3 2007 6:42 pm

    Interesting that you make the distinction between the open source crowd and the traditional GIS crowd. I guess I’m a member of both and I don’t really see that as a dividing factor.

    For me, the real distinction is between people the neogeography/Where2.0 crowd (with a focus on bringing geospatial technology to the masses via the web) and the enterprise/geoscience crowd (with a focus on analysis, statistics and data collection/management).

    I think both “sides” have a lot to learn from each other. The neogeographers need to do their homework on the fundamentals of GIScience and the traditional GIS folks need to learn how to utilize the web.

  2. GeoMullah / Jun 3 2007 7:23 pm

    The initial sense may seem like mistrust or dismissiveness, but that’s probably because no one knows who’s who in the room. i.e. Ships passing in the night. The open source/neogeography guys are out there in their community talking—because that’s how it thrives.

    In the GIS Enterprise world, no one talks really. They just complain to ESRI or their contractors.

    So, when you get all of you in one place, it’s like you have all the parts to the Death Star, but can’t figure out what to build.

    So, best thing is to talk, be open, mash up, and do great things, whomever you are.

  3. thesteve0 / Jun 3 2007 7:59 pm

    Hey Matt:
    Yeah it was neography versus traditional it was just that I was in a session for an introduction to the OpenSource stack. There is nothing inherintly exclusionary about any of this.
    To both Geo and Matt – the point of my whole post is that it is just sad that people can’t get past their pre-conceived notions on both sides and build some synergy. I guess all that can happen is people keep trying to bridge the gap and try to show respect to both sides….

  4. Matt Perry / Jun 3 2007 10:36 pm

    you’re spot on; communication and respect are really important.

    you added an equally important element .. “do great things”. Too often people get caught up in the ideology of a software stack and are blinded to otherwise brilliant solutions. Let the results speak for themselves.

    Thanks all for the great thread!

  5. Kyle Mulka / Jun 4 2007 12:00 am

    Steve, I have noticed this as well. Two summers ago I worked at the Great Lakes Commission with some top notch GIS people. It was very different from the world of web development which I had been living in for a while. The Google Maps API had just been released and while I was super excited about it, the GIS people weren’t all that impressed because it wasn’t anything near a full GIS solution such as ESRI’s products.

  6. Judith Bush / Jun 4 2007 7:45 am

    I haven’t been in the GIS space long at all — about a year — so i was very surprised at how the local college certificate program almost completely misses the web mapping — when it’s in rock throwing distance of Google and Yahoo and et al. I’ve been taking a local seminar class and what’s struck me about the municipal and county GIS managers who have spoken is the level of struggle to get the data workflow worked out in their unit — enterprise GIS offering the great hope. It’s made me aware just what an environment of scarce resources they move in. Could part of the distrust be worry that purseholders are going to say, “Just use this free stuff,” which still doesn’t have the same functionality?

  7. Bill Thorp / Jun 5 2007 12:47 pm

    I think its fun to be dismissive of the neogeography crowd. Really. They’re out there pandering to the masses — how plebian.

    Wait till Google Maps turns the USA into a McRib sandwich as part of a viral advertising ploy. Those neogeography puppies will eat it up; it’ll be the hippest thing since the hula-hoop.

    We old-school crowd have all the brains — high Apollonian ideals. Vilify a little and you can almost forget that *they* have all the good looks.


  1. Talk about a straw man « Steve’s Little world

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