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GIS' Shortcomings


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Spiegel Online has an article about the impact of Google Earth on scientific studies. The article is interesting if only for some of the misconceptions of GIS that it exhibits. For instance, “Computers have long been capable of processing geographic data. There are powerful, special programs that can create all kinds of colorful maps. And unlike Google Earth, which can only be used to display data, these programs -- experts call them geo-information systems, or GIS -- are also useful in analysis. But operating the programs is also incredibly cumbersome. Their biggest drawback is that they spit out vast numbers of individual maps without providing a look at the whole picture -- they don't provide a digital globe rotating directly in front of the viewer's eyes.” Cumbersome? Vast numbers of individuals maps? Perhaps the biggest drawback in GIS its technical sophistication but the fact that it has never promoted itself very well to the general public (ESRI’s GIS Day notwithstanding).


2 Responses to “GIS' Shortcomings”

  1. Anonymous ER Dunhill 

    It's a bit like saying "Brain-surgery is useful, but it'll never catch-on because it's so complicated." There are some things that are "cumbersome" because they are inherently complex. I don't imagine there will be much dispute over my assertion that Google Earth is a fantastic tool for the casual user. However, creating something that is simple enough for the masses limits its in-depth utility.

    ERD

  2. Anonymous MapMedia 

    I see a conflict in perspectives between techno-mapping (programmers hot on Google Map/Earth Hacks) and GIS professionals/cartographers. The recent hype over mapping ability for the masses via Googlewares has created a flock of programmers turned mappers overnight.

    The post-modernistic view of programmers often conflict with the wholistic view of geographers/GIS/cartographers who address real world issues (environment, health, etc.) I think it is logical for their to be such uninformed and skewed articles such as the one in Spiegel (and WIRED, and map hack blogs). It will take cartographers to do more outreach to this group and give them a little cartography/GIS 101. Not only will it make them sound less ignorant, it will open doors for them.


    Chris

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