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SpatialTau - Why Do We Worry About How?

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June 12 · Issue #15 · View online
SpatialTau
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Lasts month, Paul Ramsey tweeted this:
Paul Ramsey
Hey world, @mjasay wants to know if GDAL is widely used! What prominent GDAL user do you know, that we might be surprised to hear?
Is there a more important library than GDAL in geospatial circles? Maybe Proj.4 but regardless it would be hard to argue otherwise. I think about all the tools I use today and all the tools I’ve used in the past and GDAL/OGR is such an integral part of it. There has been a ton of discussion about who is using GDAL as if it makes people feel better about themselves. I’ve always found that interesting about our space. Who is using what is as almost as important as how good the library is.
I recall having beers at FOSS4G 2011 in Denver somewhere on the 16th Street Mall and talking (my mind cannot recall who was there) about how cliquey GIS is. Heck, we had a hashtag called GIS Tribe before it all imploded about the ontology of that word, but that’s a newsletter for another day. For right or wrong, we think of ourselves as an island, where GIS is the lighthouse that will guide all to the promise-land of location. On this island, how you do something is as important as why.
Oh you buffered a line?  Show me how you did it.
Oh you buffered a line? Show me how you did it.
Esri uses GDAL? Google uses Goo-dal? Salesforce uses GDAL? Oh well in that case, sign me up. You had me at Sergey Brin. That and I image Jack carrying around a copy of GDAL on a thumb drive on his keychain.
I originally had a different newsletter I planned to roll out this week, but who uses GDAL has really gotten started again on Twitter. I really think the days of GIS being on that island are over and the amazement that people there than our little clique are using GDAL or PostGIS or Turf or maps shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. What I’d love to hear more about is why you are doing what you are doing. In technology, the how something is done is always so much easier than why something is done. From Steve Jobs, to Bill Gates, to Elon Musk, the why mattered more than the how. They all looked at execution differently of course, but damn the why is what separated them.
Heck, look at Jack Dangermond and Esri. They have their how and of course that is interesting, but you can’t go to an Esri event and not see the why. Disagree with the philosophy all you want, the why is what makes them special. Esri uses GDAL? Meh, but tell me why. I’m listening.
Links
What's the most deployed geospatial server software?
Marikka Williams on Twitter: "Not your typical projection but I see the brilliance in it...
The Ethics of Geospatial – The Four E’s – edparsons.com
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