Pearls of wisdom from the Godfather of GIS 3

Jack Dangermond was in town today and gave the AGI Education Lecture at UCL.

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His messages were that GIS is already successful as a research and project tool, the big opportunity is for geography to reach out and that has just begun. We have spatially integrated thinking largely facilitated by the mass reach of Google et al and we now have the tools for data sharing and collaboration and the opportunity to use geography to communicate. We are on the cusp of a quantum leap enabled by the cloud, the crowd, open standards and data sharing policies.

In most regards this was a fairly predictable “power of GI” and futures pitch from the founder of ESRI, Jack Dangermond is an inspirational spokesperson for the power of GI although at times I think he does confuse Geography with Geographical Information Systems and you just know that GIS and ESRI are spelt the same in his world.

A couple of the best quotes from his lecture (not verbatim but as good as I could scribble down)

On the new release of ArcGIS

“ArcGIS 10.0 has almost 2000 man years of development”

On the complexity of GIS

“GIS was engineered to be difficult”

In response to the question “why aren’t you supporting full Dublin Core on”

“Because people don’t use it and entering all of it pisses people off”

On GeoDesign (which seems to be a new buzzword)

“Everybody is a designer, they just didn’t realise it”

Reading through this I wonder if I missed the core message of the lecture?

3 thoughts on “Pearls of wisdom from the Godfather of GIS

  • Chris Jackson

    Nice summary as usual.
    One additional quote regarding the ArcGIS 10 release is what Jack referred to in the lecture as “hiding complexity behind simplicity”. This applies across the whole platform and into

    Whilst it has long been evident that GIS should be considered ‘complex’ when compared to the ‘simple’ web manifestations of spatial content and consumer-focussed usability of the GYM front-ends, the thing that has been much harder to implement within GIS [meaning desktop in this context] has been simplicity within the UI related to management of features, data schemas, symbology, topology, relationships etc. The use of templates and the new UI in ArcGIS 10 massively improves usability and productivity, and we believe thereby reduces perceived complexity. In short, it becomes easier to use.

    In terms of a core message [to the students], I picked up “GIS is thriving, adapting and extending its reach, so opportunities abound to get involved in the next chapter of the evolution of this dynamic industry”

    (..would you expect me to hear anything different?)

    • steven


      I liked the quote from Jack about hiding complexity and exposing simplicity, sort of what every software designer should be doing. I guess I heard the same messages as you, I just filtered out the elegant but intensive product push

      (…but then you would expect that from me?)

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