thinking out loud

You’re a whatnow?

I’ve just seen the question “What’s the BEST way to explain being a GIS person?” or some variant of it appear on one of the many GIS&T discussion boards on which I lurk come up again.confusionIt both saddens and frustrates me that people cannot seem to realise that there are so many ways to ‘be a GIS person’ that this question is simply either extremely naive or somewhat disingenuous. Continue reading “You’re a whatnow?”

teaching and learning

Need some Button Clicking monkeys? Anyone?

There’s a great post (My GIS is Better Than Yours (and other Lies)) by John G. Van Hoesen yesterday over at the Directions Magazine website. He has hit upon a topic close to my own heart, which is this:

  • The Geographic Information Software product(s) you use are not an indication of your knowledge and ability in the arts of Geographic Information Science

It’s really very unfortunate that ‘science’, ‘systems’ and ‘software’ all start with an S! Continue reading “Need some Button Clicking monkeys? Anyone?”

linketylink · observation

Undiscovering an Island

Hat Tip to arstechnica for this article

This is a classic example of why we need to question where our data comes from. Once you stop to think about it, there are a number of possible explanations as to how this island came to be on charts and maps when it most likely never was. Effective spatial data analysis needs people’s brains to actually check out any anomalies thrown up when combining datasets. Algorithms can alert us to there being something that ‘needs a closer look’ but the actual looking is probably best done by someone who understands geographic information.

oceanSimilarly, any response to a spatial data anomaly must be informed by a number of factors, including things such as:

  • where the data was sourced from
  • who collected it and why
  • what we are using it to do

In some instances a conservative response is the best way to go, in others, we may get away with ignoring the fact that an anomaly was even found. What we shouldn’t do is assume that there is a “correct response” that will then apply for all possible instances – real life just doesn’t work that way.

Unless you happened to be, or know, an oceanic vulcanologist, ‘floating pumice islands‘ are probably not the explanation that comes to mind!

Applied Geospatial

Better decisions using Geography

I like this non-technical explanation of GIS by ESRI Ireland for a few reasons, but especially for including the line:

“GIS allows us to make better decisions using geography”

As this, for me, is what is at the core of the discipline of Geographic Information Science and Technology.