Are You a Geogeek?

August 30, 2012

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I was a bit surprised to see a member of our community describe himself to the local paper as a “geogeek.” Eric Schmidt leads the GIS team at Douglas County, NV. He and his team were profiled in the Record Courier.

Schmidt calls himself a “geo-geek,” somebody who is enthusiastic about geography and the technology that creates maps and analysis using diverse sets of data.

I like the definition the paper used and I think the term is a valuable shorthand. The oldest Web usage I could find for the term was in a URL of an old education website for grade school and middle schoolers put together by Berkeley Undergraduate Geographers. Google dates it to Jan 31, 2001.

When I looked, I found that I’d used the term about 10 times at All Points Blog. The first time was in July 2005 (the year the blog started). I was commenting on a review of the book “Mapping Hacks.”

A non-geo geek likes the book, too.

When Garmin had a Superbowl ad in Feb 2007, and Mio followed up by sponsoring a Tour de France team, I used the term again.

Geogeeks were excited to see a Garmin ad during the superbowl, but it’s Mio, based in Europe, that’s taking the next big step in bringing GPS to the masses.

I used “geogeeks” in a headline in March of 2010.

New Worldwide River Map Coming to Nat Geo (and there’s data for geogeeks)

In that situation I was using the term to distinguish users of the new map from those who would want to manipulate the data behind it. The latter group is comprised of the geogeeks.

I quoted Atanas Entchev using the term in Sept 2011.

Map generalization: with the exception of geogeeks, people don't care about maps all that much.

Twitter is awash with the term, both used in tweets and as a hash tag. During the days I was writing this piece it was used by @gletham and @jeffharrison, among others.

Esri has been using the term since at least August 2008. It has owned the domain since 2001. The domain currently resolves to Interestingly, is a site that allows students (and others) access to blocked sites via proxy servers. There does seem to be an organization or company called Geo Geek GIS in New York State.

Clearly the term is here to stay. Many in the geospatial community have embraced it and wear it as a badge of honor. While I have used, and will continue to use the term, I don’t expect to describe myself as a geogeek any time soon.


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