Friday, July 24, 2009

Silly poll of the week

So this week Directions magazine published the results of their poll on who will be the "most influential people in geospatial" over the next 5 years. I like Joe and Adena and they do a lot of good articles, but I thought this one was a bit silly, and even if you accept the silliness had some glaring omissions (and not just myself ;) !). Though there were some interesting nuggets in the published comments. However, if you treat it just as a bit of fun, it's a good way of generating some interesting conversation I guess :) !!

The question itself though is a bit like asking who will win the Superbowl in 5 years - who knows? If you can answer either question I suggest you head to Las Vegas and make a quick fortune on the betting tables. If you look at the past five years, I would say that unquestionably the most influential organization in the geospatial industry has been Google (it's hard to pick a single person from there). Five years ago they weren't even in the industry - they hadn't yet acquired Keyhole and hadn't launched Google Maps. But the whole landscape of the industry has completely changed since their arrival. So if you asked the same question five years ago, you would have entirely missed the most significant influencer. Now I guess that doesn't mean it's not fun to speculate of course, but a poll (as Joe somewhat acknowledges) is not the best way to pick up the more interesting up and coming people, who by definition many people aren't aware of yet. If you are going to do a poll like this, a more realistic question is who are the most influential people today, or over the coming year - which in reality is probably what this poll boils down to anyway.

In the glaring omissions category, the most obvious individual to me is Andrew Turner; I don't see how you can not have Microsoft in the list in addition to Google; and when looking at Google I would think you have to include Michael Jones - though again it's hard and somewhat arbitrary to pick a person or a small number of people from there. As someone commented in response to the poll, there is also a strong case for Vivek Kundra and/or Barack Obama too, in terms of what they are doing to make government data more easily accessible in the US.

Anyway, this all got me to thinking who I would put in my top 10 people likely to be influential over the next 5 years, and so I have decided that next week I will publish the "geothought top 10 people to watch in the geospatial industry" list. I have a pretty good idea of most of my choices, but if you have suggestions or want to send bribes etc, please let me know :) ! Currently I think that 3 of the Directions top 10 are likely to make the list, and the rest I think were not in the 22 nominees. But we'll see, it will be a bit of fun :).


Aaron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Francica said...

Peter: I will be looking forward to your thoughts who you believe should be the "most influential" technologists in geospatial. Of course, I take some exception to your description of our poll but regardless, it has generated discussion...which was the point. It was certainly not intended to be a popularity contest. Moreover, I thought the results and comments left by voters were a thoughtful reflection of how seriously people considered the nominees, most of whom were selected by those same readers. Obviously, our objective was to look ahead, not behind, at who would be influencing our community and that of course takes some forethought and understanding of the impact these individuals are having today, not five years ago.
I look forward to your list...Joe

Peter Batty said...

Hi Joe, my post here was intentionally a bit provocative too, partly to generate discussion. As you say, you have generated discussion with your poll, and there were a number of interesting comments that you published. But like I said, I think a 5 year time frame is an unrealistic one to sensibly predict, and especially using a poll - if you interpret it more as who will be influential in the next year or two that's a bit more reasonable (but there are still big omissions in my opinion - though maybe that's the fun part of doing these lists!). Anyway, look forward to comparing notes on our respective lists next week!

Justin C. Houk said...

To be totally honest I find their post to be just what blogs where intended for. They generated a significant amount of discussion. People left comments on the results. Others wrote related posts on their own blogs including this one.

From those perspectives the poll was far from silly. Perhaps the poll also showed who has reached out and engaged the Community that reads their Blog. I guess i choose to see the glass half full on this one.