GIS – Geography in Action; that’s the theme. On the product side the emphasis was simplification and stability. There is a lot to cover from the conference, so I’ll start with an overview of day one.
San Diego – clear sunny days, not too hot. You want to be outside but need to be in. The sprawling convention center is ready on Monday – primed like a pump to handle the throngs of ESRI enthusiasts about to descend on the place.
The event rings of a sort of Mecca for GIS practitioners (no religious disrespect intended). They come from near and far – 14,000 from more than 120 countries. (Only the Olympics have more international representation?) And they venture from afar to see and hear what the company, its partners, and its customers are up to. And to meet people of like interests. Four days, hundreds of sessions, a huge exhibit hall, a never-ending map gallery, special interest group meetings, and numerous social events.
The plenary – the main event, the kickoff. Colorful kites adorn the front stage while three huge screens occupy the waiting audience with questions – geography questions. (Tough questions, too!) Meanwhile, gentle eclectic music with an international feel plays.
Jack begins by welcoming the masses and he asks us to stop for a moment and meet another person. I turn around and meet a guy who’s at his 11th ESRI UC. When I tell him it’s my first, he says, “It’s all about Jack. That’s all you need to know.” I laugh. And it turns out that does not seem at all true – after the opening day, Jack stepped into the background and let his employees, partners, and customers take over. They had more than enough to share and do without worrying about Jack, it seemed.
Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, said that GIS is changing how we abstract our world, how we reason about the world, how we organize and communicate. He referred to the vision of explorer and scientist Alexander von Humboldt as the foundation of Interior’s vision. Kempthorne also suggested that in the future GIS will be more pervasive because of all human action related to place. But he stressed the importance of reaching users outside the room – those not now using GIS. Reaching them is the only way to make GIS part of the infrastructure.
Various product announcements followed Read more