I hate to be the guy who starts off a newsletter with, “back in the old days” but back in the old days we were more organized. I feel like with the advent of tools such as Slack and Google Drive, we do not spend the time to file things away like we used to. Search or at least the promise of search has taken that problem away from us. Yet we are all frustrated with trying to find that important Slack conversation or what was the Google Spreadsheet you opened 3 weeks ago with the project rates you need this minute. I think we struggle because there is no spatiality to storing data those ways. Maybe it is a time exercise, remember when you saved or wrote something, but spatially you do not recall where it was placed.
Navigating to p:\projects\client\project_name\data\ has spatiality to it. While the files exist in a digital format, you still mentally file it away in that card catalog (do people even know what that is anymore) in your mind. Much like you put your project files in a lateral file cabinet in the office, you know exactly where to look and even if you can’t type the path completely from memory, spatially you can get there. But with how most people save data on cloud drives, the only way to find something is either search for the title or get lucky that the service indexes the files themselves. And if the files are shared, good luck sorting by dates because who even knows when something was opened.
Personally, I think that is why I like spatial data so much. That underground utility as-built? It has a location. That wastewater treatment leach field? It has a location. That 5G antenna? It has a location. Regardless of where the data is, if you spatially index that CAD, BIM, GIS or spreadsheet, I can find it because I look at data spatially. My wife calls me rain man for navigating in that I can be in the middle of the back seat of a minivan and still be able to figure out where I am and how to get back to where we need to be.