Posts Tagged ‘paleogeography’

Paleo vs. Neo – A Final Word (Plus A Helpful Venn Diagram)

When you’re on the inside of an industry looking in, you take a lot of things for granted. You fling terminology, acronyms and slang around, safe and secure in the knowledge that your audience knows exactly what you’re talking about. But when you’re on the edges of an industry, or even on the outside, looking in, all of a sudden that terminology becomes opaque, those acronyms obscure and that slang becomes misleading. When you’re on the inside, looking in, you forget all of this and sometimes all it takes is a simple question to ground you and remind you of this.

And so it was with my post on neogeography being removed from wikipedia; a flurry of email conversations with friends and colleagues resulted which can be paraphrased succinctly as “neo? paleo? WTF?“. I tried to write down the background to all of this geographic storm in a teacup, but that only served to confuse matters. So, with the caveat that this may end up fanning the flames rather than putting them out, in the end I came up with the following venn diagram to explain.

Paleo vs. Neo - A Helpful Venn Diagram

It goes something like this.

Paleotard and neotard are both pejorative terms. Paleotards are what neotards call practitioners of paleogeography; not the study of ancient geographies but users of traditional GIS techniques who look down their noses at the upstart Web 2.0, mashup and LBMS communities. Neotards are what paleotards call practitioners of neogeography; those same Web 2.0, maps, data and LBMS combinants.

Both look down their respective noses at each other mudslinging neotard and paleotard around disparagingly. But in reality neotards and paleotards are a minority. Both neogeographers and GIS users both intersect with the wider web mapping discipline and with the use of geographic data. It’s all just “geo” really.

So there we go; paleotards vs. neotards explained. Now hopefully we can all move on and forget about this.

Written and posted from the Intercontinental Hotel, Chicago IL (41.891017, -87.62403)

Neogeography Is Dead (According To Wikipedia At Least)

Ahh … paleogeography and neogeography; will the battle never end? The latter is a term used to refer to the combining of online mapping with data, incorporating classic cartography and GIS and exposed via Web 2.0 style mashups. The former is a term with dual meanings; one referring to the study of past and ancient geography and one being a pejorative to refer to the opposite and inverse of neogeography.

Good News

Both terms have their own entries on Wikipedia … at least they used to. Towards the end of September 2010 the neogeography entry on Wikipedia was deleted with the justification …

‘(it) isn’t even clear about what the term means. Not exactly a neologism (it’s apparently been used by various people – it doesn’t take much creativity to add “neo-” to a word), but a poorly defined term that has not gained general acceptance’

… while the paleogeography entry was revised to remove any mentions of the term being neogeography’s antonym.

Within the location industry the term neogeography has certainly gained general acceptance, from Di-Ann Eisnor (ex of Platial and now at Waze) being credited with first coining the phrase, to Andrew Turner’s book on the subject being published by O’Reilly in 2006.

Introduction to Neogeography cover

Maybe we need a new term in place of neogeography, one free from the pejorative comparisons between the new and the old ways of doing things? Web Mapping has been suggested, on Wikipedia, but to me that seems too focused on the map at the expense of the other innovative uses of geographic data which have little or no map associated with them.

For now though, neogeography may be dead on Wikipedia but the tools and techniques the term describes are very much alive and well, even if they lack a convenient, one size fits all, label.

Photo Credits: Pascal and Andrew Turner on Flickr.
Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

Plenaries, Privacy and Place

Day one of this year’s AGI GeoCommunity conference saw the geoweb track draw a sizeable, if varying, share of the delegate audience; some sessions were crammed tight and reduced to standing room only whilst others had a slightly less cozy but still enthusiastic crowd.

Showing that Steven Feldman, the conference chair, started as he meant to continue, both the introductory plenaries were from people well known in the neogeography end of the geographic spectrum; Peter Batty and Andrew Turner.

Peter started talking about the Geospatial Revolution and about how geo is now mainstream after starting off life as a disruptive technology. He touched on crowdsourcing, neogeography and how geospatial data is really just another data type.

Due to Steven Feldman’s over running welcome plenary, Andrew gave us a view on How Neogeography Killed GIS in record time; talking to an appreciative crowd on place, data, and how neogeographers see GIS professionals (answer: they don’t).

The geoweb track kicked off with Tim Warr, down on the programme as working for Microsoft, announcing “I’m not working for Microsoft as of yesterday” and then promptly launched into a talk on Cloud Computing and GIS; All Hype or Something Useful? and covered the good cloud (accessibility, cost and speed), the bad cloud (security, control and continuity) and the realistic cloud where you don’t put all your clouds in one basket.

I was particularly pleased to see that WOEIDs made their debut at GeoCommunity thanks to Terry Jones and Tom Taylor.

Terry spoke about Using FluidDB for Storage and Location Aware Software Apps. If you haven’t come across FluidDB before, think about it as a wiki database for the web, or as Terry says “Why don’t our architectures let us work with information more flexibly?“; I strongly advise you look into this further and see what potential this platform has. WOEIDs were mentioned to a somewhat bemused audience but with a nice mention of my talk on this topic later today.

Tom took this one step further and gave a well received and insightful talk on the way Flickr are creating crowd sourced neighbourhood definitions from geotagged photos, all tagged with WOEIDs naturally. Tom’s Boundaries microsite shows just how powerful this can be, visualising and displaying neighbourhoods where no official definition exists, such as in London. Tom is a natural evangelist for this sort of data discovery process and caused some wry smiles when he added “I’m not an employee of Flickr or Yahoo! They haven’t paid me to say this“.

I took part in the Privacy: Where Do We Care? panel on location and the implications for privacy which I’ve blogged about earlier.

The day rounded off with a series of soapbox style georants; 15 slides, 20 seconds per slide and with the presenters having no control over the timing. Lots of themes were covered, some serious like Chris Osborne’s ITO World product pitch, some … interesting … like the Pitney Bowes boy’s geojokes, some semi disrespectful like my “Neo this and Paleo that … it’s all just Geo” (which will end up on my SlideShare account as soon as I find a net connection with some bandwidth) and some just rip roaringly hilarious like Ian Painter‘s paeon to palegeography which featured Martin DalyEd Parsons, Darth Vader and Isaac Newton. All of which were received by an increasingly well lubricated crowd from the soapbox arena, also know as the bar.

Photo credit: myself and Jeremy Morley.

Posted via email from Gary’s Posterous