New Zealand geospatalist Nathan Heazlewood recently wrote an excellent article on the importance of self-understanding within the GIS industry. In it Nathan explores and organises his understanding of the field by breaking the GIS profession into four distinct 'Tribes'.
He reasons: "The more that the industry understands about itself the better....[including] what parts of the industry are growing or shrinking or transmogrifying" so that students and professionals can understand what skills will be required in the future.
In this weeks, post I thought I would, with permission from the man himself, hammer home this message by exploring Nathan's 'Great Tribes of GIS' in a little more detail
Nathan: "The '...Gists' are basically some of the primary analysts and users of GIS data for scientific analysis purposes (hence many of their job titles end in '...gist') or other types of analysts."
Analysis: Gists are a mysterious jungle community which is famous for its witch doctor abilities. This scientific-minded tribe spends its time concocting powerful cures to cognitive 'knowledge-gap' problems by using a range of information ingredients. Gists are regarded as an extremely superstitious tribe which is highly protective of its techniques and formulas, and are, for their sake and yours, best left to their own devices.
Nathan: "The '...Graphers' are people that focus on the display or representation of data geoGRAPHically, such as cartographers and their 'kin'."
Analysis: Graphers are an ancient northern European tribe which has spent many centuries sailing the seas in search of shiney and attractive treasures. Graphers are, as suggested by the 'third-eye' embem forged onto their helmet, a very visual bunch which regards sight above all other senses. They are, as a result, fiercely protective of their appearance, as well as their ancient map-making traditions and conventions.
Nathan: "The 'Measurers' are people that collect geographic data using measurement or imagery tools."
Analysis: Measurers are perhaps the most important of the 'Great Tribes of GIS'. This tall and athletic group spends its days in the great open sourcing the highest quality geospatial information which is available. Graphers use highly advanced tools and techniques for doing so and often return with more information than the other Tribes can manage.
Nathan: The 'Techies' are the GIS industry's interface to technology, led by people such as GIS Developers and their related colleagues.
Analysis: Techies (pronounced 'Tekees') is the more mechanically-minded GIS Tribe which is focused on building tools and structures to support the other tribe's activities. Despite the impression which Techie's often primitive looking style of dress gives, they are actually a very innovative bunch. Be warned though, Techies can be very moody, and often respond to criticism of their designs in an aggressive and stubborn manner.