The digital paper divide 4


Last night my brother asked me “what was that stuff mentioning you in the Guardian the other week?” I explained about the elusive internationally renowned expert and he agreed it couldn’t possibly be me. Sibling humour.

Then the conversation got interesting when he questioned why the Guardian had been banging on about this stuff for over 2 years? I tried to explain the issues and potential importance. Did anyone read this stuff he asked? Apparently he reads the Thursday tech section of the paper but just skips the Free Our Data pieces. Perhaps there is a big difference between the people who read the Guardian online and those who read the printed version?

A couple of weeks ago a survey of UK brand recognition placed Ordnance Survey in the top 20 UK brands. Just a thought but I bet most of the people who recognise the OS brand and relate positively to it associate the company with paper maps, boy scouts and rambling not GPS and online services. Maybe the strong views in the digital world aren’t reflected in the world of paper maps users and lovers.

If there is a digital vs paper divide, what does that mean for discussions about geodata access and use? There are other groups of map users out there that we need to reach whether in the cause of Freeing Our Data or GeoVating.


4 thoughts on “The digital paper divide

  • TG

    I agree that the OS brand strength probably comes entirely from paper maps. Like any mapping agency OS would be wise to hold on to them for that reason alone. Similar to the oil industry, paper maps are like petrol stations – none of the oil companies make much money selling petrol (the margins are just too horrible) but they hold onto them because it's their only route to the consumer market and brand recognition. The real money is made in the supply chain of exploration, production and refining of oil – very similar to the acquistion and refining of digital data in fact!

    Thierry (a former oilman)

  • Denis Payne

    An alternative view from the Times – https://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/travel/online/article6725510.ece – a couple of interesting quotes:

    "A professor of geography admitted to me recently that his students are not taught about maps and their mathematical projections, which is bit like an English department not teaching poetry"

    "The chances are, though, that it’s a very long time since you used a paper map like my friend."

    So yes, it really matters whether you're into paper or digital.

  • Steven

    Of course taking a screengrab from multimap probably breaks someone's licensing conditions

  • mcknut

    My brother-in-law's a big fan of the OS. He's a regular hiker and so obviously it's connected to that. If he needs a digital version then it's easy enough to go to multimap.com and take a screengrab, right?

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