[open-geodata] "Why geodata shouldn't be a ghetto" blogpost - feedback apprec

Scott, Antony antony.scott at cranfield.ac.uk
Tue Jun 15 08:24:08 UTC 2010


Re your opening para - see Muki Haklay's blog post from earlier this year: http://povesham.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/the-source-of-the-assertion-that-80-of-all-organisational-information-is-geographic/.


Antony Scott

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From: open-geodata-bounces at lists.okfn.org [open-geodata-bounces at lists.okfn.org] On Behalf Of Jo Walsh [jo.walsh at ed.ac.uk]
Sent: 14 June 2010 16:56
To: Jonathan Gray; open-geodata at lists.okfn.org
Cc: Stefano Costa
Subject: [open-geodata] "Why geodata shouldn't be a ghetto" blogpost -  feedback apprec

dear all,

I've been drafting the blog post on "why geodata should be not a ghetto"
and i would appreciate any feedback on it before i throw it over the
fence - i would like to be more constructive about what can we
(OSGeo/OKF/[Geocommons?]) *do* to engage with domain-specific geodata
user communities without much supporting resource...


I've heard this quote recycled so many times; without a true origin it
has become a truism: "80% of all information [collected by government]
is geographic". As Rich Gibson and more recently the UK Location
Information Infrastructure Board put it - "everything happens somewhere".

Another quote from Alec Ross, an Obama campaigner now running technology
innovation strategy at the state department:. "Technology is not just a
slice of the pie - it is the pan." I would like to say the same thing
about open geographic data.

We have directives and initiatives, strategies and standards bodies that
focus solely on geographic information - but is this helping to advance
the cause of practitioners?

Roger Longhorn articulated this very clearly in a recent post to the
GSDI Legal Socialecon list - spatial may be special, but it is not
*that* special. I found myself tactlessly asking this at the end of a
European geodata quality standards meeting - "Wouldn't it be nice if
this was all a bit less geographic?"

To say, "I'm interested in geodata" is like saying "I'm interested in
books". There are committed niche communities who deal with the
infrastructure of books, models to be shared, people who design and
maintain library information systems. But their work is done for the
benefit of people who focus on particular domains (I won't say
disciplines, if that's unhelpful) - historians and scientists needs from
library information systems are at least as different as they are similar.

What prompts me to write this post, which I've been chewing over for a
while, is another burst of interest in standing up a geographic data
catalogue for the Open Source Geospatial Foundation. I think there are
deeper reasons why this hasn't happened in the last few attempts to
raise momentum behind the idea.

One thing we haven't done well is articulate "user journeys" -  But to
do this we have to be domain specific. How will an archaeologist
interact with an INSPIRE catalogue - the answer is they probably won't
at all; their time is better spent on services really targeted to their
needs, like the Archaeology Data Service.

How will an evidence-based policy analyst looking at the success rates
of health interventions use an INSPIRE catalogue? The spatial-ness of
what they're looking for is an accident, a navigational aid. There's no
need for a geodata catalogue here.

Reference to Gnat on catalogues and usability

With geodata specific standards we are doing ourselves a disservice.
Thus interest in OpenSearch Geo, or LocalSOLR - appending spatial smarts
to existing things.

So as developers or analysts we should probably be asking ourselves -
why are we building what we're building? Do we have a clear sense of
what we want to understand? If not, that's fine too, ... serendipitously
explore, connect, and later re-relate.

you get the general idea - i won't add much to this...

[1] http://lists.gsdi.org/pipermail/legal-socioecon/2010-May/000771.html

Jo Walsh

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