GIS: What’s there to talk about?

I haven’t indulged in metablogging for some time now, so excuse the lapse.

Re Dave Bouwman’s post on the supposed lack of conversations on GIS blogs, with follow-ups from Adena Schutzberg , Frank, Allan Doyle and James Fee. Some thoughts:

Conversation != blogging. I know the “blogging is a conversation” meme is all the rage right now, but let’s not confuse analogies with isomorphisms. Blogs are not conversations; not exactly, at least. More accurately, they’re serial monologues, with an opportunity for feedback. They are also, I hope, a little more considered than the average conversation, and a little more researched, with links for attribution.

The corollary: Comments != conversation. We who have blogs and and have a worthwhile point to add will write a post. I tend to use comments when I see a question unasked, an error, I can make a pithy point or I know of a relevant link the author might like. I leave diatribes for my own blog.

GIS is more like rocket science than evolution. By that I mean that there are very few controversies in the field that stir civilians. GIS is relatively devoid of ideological turf wars. The only times I have seen Google Earth users get red in the face is when political boundaries and placenames have not been to their liking.

At the same time, GIS software seems to be dominated by a few benevolent Hobbesian Leviathans (I’m thinking ESRI and Google), whose subjects appear quite well served by the regime. Whenever there is talk about manning the barricades, there is indeed a spate of comments, usually on James Fee’s blog or now also on GIS dirtbag. NASA World Wind blogs also tend to be fired up by their perceived underdog status. Otherwise, there is very little sense of the outrage and injustice that is so vital for the cultivation of an argumentative blog culture.

But we can ask why GIS blogs don’t more often all pitch in on common topics, such as we’re doing in the aftermath of Dave’s post. Perhaps it’s because we’re all niched? This blog is about Google Earth. I consciously try not to repeat news already reported on at Planet GeoSpatial. In a field where news and analysis is more important than opinion and ideology, perhaps this is what the blogosphere can be expected to looks like.

One thought on “GIS: What’s there to talk about?”

  1. I feel you’ve got the right line there and some interesting, critical formulations. Reasons why I seem to be hooked on your diatribes..

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