[FoRK] [lars@aronsson.se: Re: [Geowanking] mapping philosophies?]

Eugen Leitl < eugen at leitl.org > on > Sat Jul 15 04:48:48 PDT 2006

----- Forwarded message from Lars Aronsson <lars at aronsson.se> -----

From: Lars Aronsson <lars at aronsson.se>
Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2006 04:47:23 +0200 (CEST)
To: geowanking at lists.burri.to
Subject: Re: [Geowanking] mapping philosophies?
Reply-To: geowanking at lists.burri.to

Annalee Newitz wrote:

> I'm in the early stages of researching an article about map 
> hackers for Wired magazine -- I know the term "map hackers" is 
> vague, but that will change. What I'm wondering is whether folks 
> here have been inspired by any particular philosophies or 
> theories of geography in their work? Is there a Norbert Wiener 
> or Lawrence Lessig of the geowank world? Somebody who is geeky 
> but also policy-minded or philosophical, whose ideas have 
> inspired you to make map tools or build geolocation tech?

In the micro/home/personal computer revolution of the late 1970s, 
it was a whole new bunch of people that entered the field of 
computing.  Some knew about computers already, but many did not.  
And those who knew the old mainframes best stayed with the 
mainframes and didn't join the revolution.  The new micros were so 
small, that they seemed to be nothing but toys to the old pros.

This is what Clayton Christensen called "The Innovator's Dilemma". 
His book takes the view of the producer/seller and not the 
sociologist, but it's the same phenomenon.

This is what we're seeing with these new "mapping hacks" too.  
The map hackers are PHP and Ruby programmers, not cartographers.  
In fact, there must be at least two generations of revolutionaries 
between the old cartographers (who graduated in the 1960s without 
having touched a computer) and today's map hackers: First the 
traditional GIS people (who graduated in the 1980s), then the free 
software GIS people (who bring Linux and GRASS, but work with 
cartography on a professional scale).

It would make a nice Wired article to put four people, one from 
each generation, side by side, and have them tell their stories.
How did "line printer maps" change mapping in the late 1960s?
What did the skeptics say?  Who were enthusiastic about it?
What drove the University of Minnesota to develop MapServer, and 
was it related to the Gopher menu system?

There are free software GIS people clashing into openstreetmap.org 
all the time, like birds that fly into a window pane.  They know 
the Minnesota MapServer, GRASS, gdal, and map projections (like a 
bird, that knows how to fly).  The original OSM crowd doesn't 
really have a clue about those things, but they (or should I say 
we) are building free map data (like, this is a window pane, you 
cannot fly here).  Dig through the svn.openstreetmap.org source 
code and tell me when you find anything that resembles GIS 
software, data structures and algorithms.

Timesharing operating systems and e-mail were developed in 1965.  
The Apple II was introduced in 1977, twelve years later.  What 
theory of timesharing or e-mail did the Apple II users have? Is it 
even possible to love the Apple II if you know what timesharing 
and e-mail are?  It took about twelve more years before Mac and PC 
users got e-mail.

  Lars Aronsson (lars at aronsson.se)
  Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se
Geowanking mailing list
Geowanking at lists.burri.to

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