Getting lost in the clouds at CASA 5

I spent today at the Advances in Spatial Analysis & e-Social Science event at CASA/UCL today. It’s a warm up for the GISRUK (academic GI) conference and from past experience is somewhat more accessible to the non academics (like me) than the main conference.

I came away disappointed and grumpy. I was left with the feeling that a lot of the “research” was superficial and hardly stretching the boundaries of knowledge or understanding but maybe that is because I am not an academic. My impression was that the only reason for undertaking some of this was because there was funding available. Blue sky thinking is fine but you have to watch out for getting lost in the clouds, particularly when there are big cuts coming in June.

Rollo Home, Ken Field and I were tweeting with mounting scepticism until Carl Steinitz spoke at the very end and poured some cold water on the cool stuff – rough quote “Visualisation is not communication” You can read our back chat and get a flavour of the event here, the first few tweets are nothing to do with the CASA even but then no one owns the #casa hashtag

Postscript 14th April: I woke up and realised what left me dissatisfied with yesterday – the title! I missed the Analysis and Science.

5 thoughts on “Getting lost in the clouds at CASA

  • Rollo

    Steven, I think I should clarify my position at little further. I really enjoyed the majority of presentations and could see the potential that was being alluded to (as speakers were not always succinct in explaining the relevance of the work). However, just one or two left me grappling for answers. The panel session at the end of the day (an amazing collection of the great and the good of the GI community) appeared to also have questions. While Carl Steinitz and David Rhind may have expressed their questions in stronger language, the positive message coming out of this was the timely revival of geodesign. This concept has been strongly promoted by Jack Dangermond and ESRI (where is was high on the agenda at the business partner conference earlier in the year). This association has I fear led to a general cynicism about the motivation and therefore usefulness of geodesign. ESRI are not ‘geodesign’ and I don’t see that they want to be (in the same way as OS are not ‘geovation’). But they clearly have a lot of experience that would be ridiculous to ignore out of hand. OK, I confess I may have not given it enough of my attention and been influenced by the blog-brigade (the day job gets in the way of following everything in sufficient detail!), but the arguments presented by the panel (in light of my own questions), and some online research this morning has forced me to re-assess. I would like to thank #casa for an excellent event – and for initiating such an interesting debate.

  • Andrew

    Hmm, to comment or not – interesting if very narrow minded insights.

    I think the fact that the ‘blue skies’ stuff is in New Scientist this week speaks for itself. Its also on Wired btw.

    Kind of a shame to read such tweets as well,


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