Tuesday, December 4, 2007

No data creation in neogeography - errr????

I found this post at All Points Blog rather bizarre, on how "neogeography is not GIS". It quotes Mike Hickey of Pitney Bowes (the company formerly known as MapInfo) saying that "there is no data creation in neogeography", when perhaps the most notable trend in the industry at the moment is how crowd-sourced or community generated data is radically changing the way we create and maintain data. I discussed one example in my previous post about OpenStreetMap. There was an interesting link in the comments on that post from my former Smallworld colleague Phil Rodgers on the Cambridge Cycling Campaign's route planner, which also uses community generated data to provide a level of detail not available from any commercial data providers. In doing some further reading on OpenStreetMap I also came across this interesting comparison of their data versus Google's in the small town of Hayward's Heath in England, via an interview on the ZXV blog. And of course there are hosts of other sites generating many different types of geospatial data via community input. The post also said that there is "no spatial analysis" in neogeography, when again there are many interesting developments in this area outside the traditional GIS space - for example what FortiusOne is doing with GeoCommons, and companies like BP and others are implementing increasingly sophisticated applications with Virtual Earth.

I'm afraid this comes across to me as another rather poor attempt by old school GIS guys to justify their continued existence in a rapidly changing geospatial world. Absolutely there will continue to be specialized analytical applications which require specialized software and skills, but the new generation of geospatial software systems will continue to eat into applications which were previously the domain of the traditional GIS companies at a rapid rate, and making blatantly incorrect assertions about "neogeography" isn't going to change that trend.
King Canute trying to turn back the tide


JOD said...

Simply amazing that the guy who made that comment has a leadership role in the geospatial software community.

randy said...

Reminds me of all the academic wars from the "Real GIS" crowd back in the '80s, when digital mapping was sniffed at.

Apparently an investment in GIS credentials can breed contempt of novel technologies that threaten that investment's value. Remember all the noise a couple of years ago about "Professional GIS Licensure"? It all seems a bit irrevelent to the present let alone the future.

Daniel said...

I'm not that worried about what the academics have to say -- I think I prove myself over and over again in this life.


I'm not sure I'd consider myself a 'neogeographer', as I'm an actual expert in the things I do. But, I see great potentials in the aspects of merging crowd-sourcing with guidance from algorithmic and analyst-centric QA.

You just can't shake a stick at real-world experience. And that's perhaps the thing that's driving common misconceptions and paranoias that somehow everything will somehow threaten growth of the industry -- when in fact, it's causing growth to literally explode.

Jonathan Hartley, tartley.com said...

Hear hear Peter, good call.

It's fair to be a little cautious around the edges: Buying world-spanning data in bulk is an entirely different proposition than getting one or two square miles up to date by virtue of the zealous local resident neogeographer. Nevertheless, as P already pointed out, it is by such piecemeal efforts that wiki-like datasets are gradually honed to usefulness. So I guess I'm just agreeing. In an overly verbose rambling sort of way. Sorry.

Also: Stick shakers of the world unite! Why bother proving oneself? Disproving others is far more entertaining.

How come 'neogeography' is actually easier to say than 'neogeo'? (overloads with '90s Japanese game consoles aside)

Daniel said...

If I were to consume myself with the activities of 'disproving' others -- I would find myself consumed in the time that it takes not getting anything done. Thus, I am compelled to prove by doing, instead of reacting -- which, it would seem that reaction is the quandry of the academic mindset often enough.

For instance, it's great that people can get paid to talk about what others do. I wish I had their money -- I could get even more done.

But I digress.

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