Neo, Geo, GIS and Innovation

So every couple weeks, we get the neo is moving on up post. My good friend Peter Batty wrote one titled, “How “neogeography” is rapidly moving into the “GIS” space”.

At several conferences I have attended recently – Where 2.0, WhereCamp and State of the Map (SOTM) – I have been struck by the amount of activity and innovation in areas that would have previously been regarded as firmly in the domain of “traditional GIS”. I’ll mention three: cartography, data creation and analysis.

So after reading his post, Peter and I shared some tweets back and forth and it became clear 140 characters is not enough. Good thing I still blog.

So lets look at the basis of what Peter and many others are saying about “Neo”. Peter is right in calling out Stamen Design as an innovator in our space (and many others). But I disagree with his assessment that they are doing anything that is particularly neo. What Stamen does is just incredible and really changes how web graphics are presented. But I don’t think it really matters if they are Neo or not. Their work stands on its own without having to put labels on it. Oh sure they use OSM, Mapnik and many other Web 2.0 technologies, but that doesn’t make them Neo. I also don’t buy the argument some make that if you are innovative, you must be neo. Innovation is something that transcends a label.

Am I neo because I run Mapnik at the same time I’m paleo because I run ArcGIS Desktop? Stamen, OSM and GeoCommons are all important because they innovate, not because they put a label on their shirts. In the end what is important is companies that innovate should be rewarded. But I don’t think just because you use one piece of software or another should you be limited in your ability to take part in the revolution.

Peter’s underlying message is that you can be innovative without spending money tens of thousands of dollars. That is a huge point to make about this “revolution”. Being able to pick and choose platforms to develop on is a huge departure from the silos and stacks that we’ve been dealing with for years. Heck, I wouldn’t have joined WeoGeo unless I didn’t believe things were changing for the better.

Viva la Revolución

Viva La Revoluci??n

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