news that more and more people are turning to the Web for news.And,
it's not news that geospatial professionals are also turning the Web
for news about their field.Every year or so, I like to look out at the
Web and the print world and take the pulse of the information resources
for our industry.
When I started writing about this area, the big source was e-mail
lists.(Those are lists where all subscribed members receive all
e-mails to the list.Many are now mirrored, that is collected, on websites,
including Directions.) Those continue to thrive, but the more
focused, product specific ones tend to be more active than the general
ones.For example, Manifold-L ("L" for "list") and MapServer-L tend to
be busier than the more general GISLIST, which sort of replaced the old
GIS-L.This week, when I looked, the Manifold, MapInfo and SW (GE
Smallworld) lists had 36, 48 and 38 posts respectively, while GISLIST
had but 14.
And, I'll suggest the focused forums (website based discussions) on
products tend to be busier than the more general forums.All of the
ESRI product e-mail lists (from ESRI and Bill Huber) had fewer than
three posts when I looked.The respective product forums
had many.So, ESRI forums on specific products are busier than say
forums on publication websites on more general topics like education
and data.That may be in part because topics are separated out making
it easy to find areas of interest within a single product.Some online
publications have merged those more general topics into a single forum
to streamline the effort.
If those are the solutions for the focused, technical view, where can
you go for the broader view? Certainly the online publications
(including this one) are a starting point.But, so too are the more
general "popular" and industry IT publications, including those on
Business Intelligence, and the business publications, including those
focusing on technology.And, there are the blogs.How much geospatially
related material pops up at Slashdot, a general technology/geek blog?
Quite a lot.And the views of it by the general IT community are pretty
fascinating.More and more we need to see not just the thin sliver of
what we do in our own industry, but how others look at what we do and
how our work fits with theirs.We share a lot of what we find in those
publications in our All
Points Blog.Further insight is provided by readers via comments to
those posts.We invite your input.
But, there's another corner that's particularly interesting: popular
science publications.Scientific American and New Scientist
are covering location and sensor technologies very well and in some
a new title from O'Reilly included a plan to build a remote sensing
solution in its debut issue.(It was a kite aerial photography
project.) What we do is no longer only in the realm of the social
sciences and conservationist journals; it's science.
And, what of academic journals following geospatial technologies? They
are out there and include the International
Journal of Geographical Information Science, APPLIED
GIS (an online journal, once Journal of Geographic
Information and Decision Analysis), Transactions
in GIS and others.Despite a recent article noting
the contribution of academia in the development of GIS (and another one
regarding the military's contribution),
it appears that those in the field do not read the research or academic
journals.In my five years writing about these technologies for the
user and industry community, I believe I've never had anyone suggest a
topic referenced in an academic journal, save perhaps Knowledge@Wharton,
which, while academic, is a business journal.
Finally, it's worth looking at another source of information,
advertising.Despite some protestations, it is a method through which
readers, in print and online, receive information.(We on the
publishing side, of course, receive revenue.) Our advertisers are
telling us that they are moving more and more of their advertising from
print to the Web.Some are moving almost exclusively to online methods.
That speaks to their sense of how their potential customers are
tracking industry information.
What does this list of resources and my theories about how we use them
say about the geospatial community? Here are my guesses.First, it says
we are focusing in more; we want to keep tabs on a smaller set of
information, like our product of choice.That may well be in response
to perceived or real information
overload.It may also suggest that we are becoming better consumers
of online resources; we are searching more effectively and
participating in more appropriately focused forums where our questions
are more likely to be answered.I like to think there are fewer "How do
I do this in GeoMedia?" questions on general geospatial lists.The
second, perhaps more interesting, conclusion is that our technology, by
our own choice or otherwise, is being explored and documented in other
disciplines in their publications and blogs.That may be disturbing to
some who want to maintain tight control, but may encourage others to
find new opportunities.A final conclusion is that we are ready for new
media, or interactive media.And, further, that advertisers are ready
to step up and "foot the bill" to get their information out.The number
of geospatial and related blogs, and RSS feeds of news and other
content, from formal and informal sources is growing.When I polled
readers of my previous publication regarding RSS feeds in early 2004,
83% of respondents didn't know what they were.Recently I read that
third party geospatial developers are hoping software vendors will
offer RSS feeds of information they need.
Did you ever notice how every industry has a publication with "World"
in the title? We have GeoWorld (once GIS World) and Geomatics
World.In running it's Runner's World.There's PCWorld,
AutoWorld, BeverageWorld, BusinessWorld, ComputerWorld,
ITWorld...You get the idea.Few of these publications, before the
Web, had anything like worldwide availability.And, as much as editors
strive to make the ones that claim worldwide scope truly span the
globe, it's a tall order.