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Geography and GIS are Everyday Things

Thursday, November 15th 2012
By Adena Schutzberg

I know that we set aside Geography Awareness Week and GIS Day to put a special emphasis on the perspective and technology respectively. My GIS Day, however, reminded me that in fact, both are perspectives and technologies that pop up everyday. My friends Facebook posts on GIS Day provided many examples. (No, none of my closest friends are geographers or GIS people...)

I posted asking if any of these non-geo people knew it was GAWeek or GIS Day. Only my best friend, who is required by law to know everything about me, was aware of it. That got me thinking: Are we just talking to ourselves during this week? I don't know. How do we measure our success? The most amusing response to that question was a guess at what GIS stood for: Get In Shape.

At lunch time a friend sent on a series of Google Maps he received to show a meeting place for a noon run and the route the group would take. He explained in detail that the maps were not oriented in a way that made sense to him and that they were not "zoomed out" enough to provide context. Those were some pretty spatially aware comments for a guy who, by his own admission confirmed by observation, has no sense of direction.

Later in the day another friend posted, obviously dismayed, that her Garmin had died. A quick response came: "Get a map." Nope, it was not her personal navigation device that died, but rather her running GPS (the kind without maps as discussed in this article). Yep, Garmin is like Kleenex...except that it clearly defines more than one kind of device.

Finally, this evening a friend noted a hot story here in Boston. It turns out that a U.S. attorney wants to take over a hotel from its owner because there's lots of crime there. The owner has no record, but by law, the government can take over his geography via civil forfeiture.

Yes, GIS Day was just another day...

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