Spatial IT vs GIS

So, Stephen Mather has taken a crack at analyzing my Spatial IT meme.

And why then the artificial distinction between GIS and Planning? If GIS is Planning technically embodied, should they not be conflated? Two reasons why not. One: The efficacy of GIS can be hindered by slavishly tying it to Planning in large part because there is wider and deeper applicability to GIS than to Planning’s typical functions. Lemma: Paul is partially right.

Stephen’s found a weak seam in my argument, and it’s around the planning aspects of GIS. There’s a place where GIS provides the interface between raw data and planning decisions, which remains:

This is the GIS that is taught in schools, because it’s the “interesting” GIS, the place where decision meets data.

However, as we know, GIS courses are just the bait in the trap, to suck naïve students into a career where 90% of the activity is actually in data creation (digitization monkey!) and publication (map monkey!), not in analysis. The trap that “GIS” has fallen into is to assume that these low-skill, repetitive tasks are (a) worth defending and (b) should be done with specific “GIS technology”. They aren’t, and they shouldn’t; they should (and, pace Brian Timoney, will) be folded into generic IT workflows, automated, and systematized.

That will leave the old core of “real GIS” behind, and that’s probably a good thing, because training people for analysis and then turning them into map monkeys and digitization monkeys (and image color-balancing monkeys, and change detection monkeys) is a cruel bait-and-switch.