Hug a Neogeographer Today
Having had the delightful opportunity to recently hear "neogeographer" bandied around (in person!) like a swear word, I've been keen on the recent discussion involving it in the GIS press, e.g. on the All Points Blog or The Memory Leak.
It reminded me of how much trouble I got into for being such a sourpuss in my analysis of the 2007 ESRI UC keynote session and ESRI's strategy in general. Six months ago, I said
The attitude at the moment seems to be, "If you're using Google or Microsoft for anything, you're clearly an amateur, and you can go $*#& yourself." Of course Grandpa Dangermond would never say that — he let his attack dogs do it on stage, but the effect is the same. True "professionals" will make "authoritative" data and "publish" it to these "free, consumer" services.
I'm not saying I said it first. But that schism is opening wider and wider.
And I'll say it again: GIS departments need to go the way of the VARCHAR department. There will always be an important place for the surveyor and geodesist who really can tell me if I'm sinking a well within 10 meters of the exact seismic trace I had in mind. But the cult of the GIS dinosaurs simply needs to get out of the way of all the millions of people whose creativity and knowledge can be unleashed by "neo"geography tools. The VARCHAR department will still have well-paid experts who can beautifully typeset new hardcovers and textbooks, but it's just not necessary to use desktop publishing software when a TEXTAREA or Twitter post will do.
Hey GIS programmers: barbarians are at the gates! Do us a favor and let a few in!