Tuesday 29 September 2009

The Joy of (con)Text

It's a common geo-rant (thanks AGI'09) that metadata cause alternatively boredom or angst among geo-geeks - why? because we know our data, our professional audience does too, but our wider audience does not. In other words, if we don't write metadata, no-one else will understand the context later on. I found a clear example, when I mapped Captain Cook's ships logs a while ago, and posted on ArcGIS Online beta:

Sunday 27 September 2009

The Joy of Sets

Set Theory was the first disruptive technology I experienced as a boy - perhaps my web diagram to the right was influenced by that? As it turned out sets made binary thinking cool in the new era of computing, as they did holistic thinking in business management. In earth sciences it helped correct the linear thinking of chronologically evenly spaced events, into that of long periods of quiescence punctuated with bursts of evolution or catastrophic events - and now that we look for asteroids and tsunamis in history, we find them galore.

Friday 25 September 2009


I followed UK's premier GIS meeting hosted this week by AGI in Stratford-upon-Avon UK, on its excellent website and twitter (#geocom and other attendees). You can read there that the debate over FOSS vs. COTS is morphing into GIS vs. neo-geography. But I found the following to be very a-propos for petroleum: Yahoo!Geo Technologies' Gary Gale explains in his blog the importance of a global geographic ontology - that is identifying not only by location, but also by metadata and by topology.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

GIS and autos - Part II

Further comparing two industries, after WWII the US interstate highways created a transportation backbone originally lobbied for by the auto industry. It greatest beneficiary however was the trucking industry, which acquired a ready-made and tax-paid road network. From individual truckers to unionised haulers, it changed the face of many industries, such as the transporation of food and the delivery of mail, where cost and timeliness were key. Entrepreneurs were helped by the fact the network was paid for, lowering a barrier to entry in the business.

Saturday 19 September 2009

Of GIS and automobiles

What mixed messages last week about what makes a succesful GIS division! On one hand CH2M Hill spun off Critigen, on the other Balfour Beatty plans to acquire Parsons Brinckerhoff. A few years ago Halliburton shed KBR, which in turn exited geospatial services. So is a spin-off due to its year-on-year growth, read: highest likelihood of surviving solo? Or is the parent shedding its best parts first, read: ripe for corporate takeover or management buyout?

Tuesday 15 September 2009

What's in a name? Part II

Tim O’Reilly started the Web 2.0 movement via eponymous show a few years ago. Gov 2.0 was his iteration of same in Washington DC last week. In the All Points Blog podcast on same, APB Executive Editor Adena Schutzberg said:
...not only are they [gov. GIS sites] really, really useful, people don't think of them as GIS, they're apps: they happen to have maps in them, you get your answers to your questions...

Friday 11 September 2009

What's in a name?

I tweeted earlier on Mappliance = Map + Appliance, where maps blend into applications imperceptibly; I found two such instances just today: First I retweeted IPO Dashboard's Tracker, one of two ways to get at technology startup statistics. Second I shared my entry to Google's 9/11 interactive memorial website - not surprisingly, it allows you to enter location, text, photos and videos of your experience on that fateful day if you wish.

Monday 7 September 2009

Once an entrepreneur...

... always an entrepreneur: 20+ years ago I started up then wound down my own petroleum GIS firm in Calgary, Canada.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

The medium is the message when?

As tweeted on 18 August, Mappliances = Map + Appliance: when the geospatial disappears behind, or is blended into the information stream. A recent example is BBC on cybercafes 15 years on (in UK @ least) - in terms of reader feedback Have your Say is so yesterday, however, welcome to Have your Say Map!