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Perspectives Header

This is my last Perspectives column at Vector1 Media and I thought I would share a few thoughts on lessons learned and observations made over the last five years while writing this column every other week. Geospatial media has changed remarkably over the years. Many of us in the media began writing on paper, but quickly followed along with digital changes, often led by technologies and approaches that were also digital. The expectations of media have changed over time as well. There is a difference between being a trade magazine, and other kinds of magazines. Readers interpret content in different ways, and, writers create content with different purposes mind. What Is The Purpose of Geospatial Media?

 
Perspectives Header

This is my last Perspectives column at Vector1 Media and I thought I would share a few thoughts on lessons learned and observations made over the last five years while writing this column every other week. Geospatial media has changed remarkably over the years. Many of us in the media began writing on paper, but quickly followed along with digital changes, often led by technologies and approaches that were also digital. The expectations of media have changed over time as well. There is a difference between being a trade magazine, and other kinds of magazines. Readers interpret content in different ways, and, writers create content with different purposes mind. What Is The Purpose of Geospatial Media?

Geospatial media has been present within our community for a long time. Beginning on paper, it has largely followed the digital trends along with the manufacturers and creators products and solutions – also offered in digital format.  To an online owner and writer, hardcopy is far easier to produce, since it usually comes out only once a month and often follows already interpreted, expressed and distributed news. As the geospatial community has grown, matured and expanded in society, readers expectations have changed and the cycle for reading up-to-date information has shortened – people want to read the latest information immediately. And, they have social media and other online tools to do so.

The purpose of geospatial media can be a personal question, depending upon what each person expects and wants from the media. Some want the latest technical news, some want informative articles, some want case studies with examples and others like to read opinion and debate. The latter being often over-looked by many in a community mainly encircled with technological endeavour.  I’ve had many discussions with marketing people over time who often say, “there is not enough focus on our kind of work.” Often my answer runs something like this, “many people may come across your product, without being directly connected to it – they are reading for their own purposes, not yours.” A Publishers goal is to create an audience, to attract then, to favour the wide interest and explore the boundaries – in the hopes of generating interest, engagement and attraction, all raising the possibility that your product will be seen.  And – they often have the numbers of new readers that show it.

There are very few original content writers in geospatial media today, and that is unfortunate. Original content writers can usually couple ideas, interaction and perspectives together, into continuous, interesting and readable content that reflects knowledge and experience. This is far different than a lot of regurgitation of social media today, that often arrives in search engines, is altered in minor ways and replaced in the system only to come out again and again and again. It raises the question, as geospatial professionals, do we search for original content? Is it something we deem valuable and enjoy? It is all too easy to get caught into social media tools that link and re-link, losing track of informative voices, opinion and though provoking messages. I would suggest you raise your bar by keeping an eye out for original content.

Tolerance and respect are the cornerstones of our community.  Listening to alternative ideas, concerns and thoughts makes us richer, not poorer and it supports the power of our tools. We use these tools to explore, learn and understand negative and poor situations, to shed light on them with real answers, real data and real alternative decision possibilities.  Good Geospatial media attempts to follow these principles, not deny them. It encourages alternative thoughts, and supports critical-thinking while tolerating others and respecting their freedoms.

One of our earliest challenges when we began Vector1 Media was to have a global presence. The online medium supports this. Because we mapped readership, we could see the changes over the course of the day as readers in North America slept, while Asians arose, later to change to European numbers – each and every day. Through the internet, Geospatial media today does reach around the globe, but my observation is that the readership is predominately North American in numbers, followed by Europe and then Asia. The level of connectedness in North America is high and the population is large. By contract Europeans pay by the minute for bandwidth, a fact that might be having undo consequences in Europe as image sizes increase and the cloud, enforcing online transfer increases costs for many – even with rudimentary file transfers their bandwidth limits can be quickly reached.  This poses unique challenges in the near future for media.

What is the purpose of a geospatial blog? Try writing one of these nearly every day for 5 years, it can lead to some interesting realizations. My experience is that blogs follow the energy of the writer and closely align to their daily lives and what they are experiencing. The trick then, is to encapsulate those moments into content that can be conveyed in a useful and interesting manner. I can only speak for myself and say: geospatial blogging has been about translating all that I see, learn, know, experience and understand into something that imparts news or knowledge to others. Risk is often involved, thick skin is needed and many of the stepping stones can be positive – and negative at times.  It takes courage to pump out something every day to a global audience, alas, many notes and feedback letters help in aligning the path.

There are not enough of us asking geospatial media to write good content today. We all too often we settle for marketing over content that grasps us and causes us to think better, integrate more and to reach higher. And that content will necessarily be original in content. Marketing has its place as does original content writing. We need to recognise both, but need to remain vigilant about replacing one with the other – and incorrectly assuming it is right.

There has never been a time that needed critical-thinkers, people with the ability to connect-the-dots and to develop well-rounded solutions as now. The power of geospatial tools and their capabilities can truly change peoples lives and improve many situations. We need more people wanting to take these tools to make those kinds of changes.  We need more than efficiency or to make money alone. We need transformation. And Geospatial media has a role here, to make sure that that happens and to increase awareness and possibilities for people to learn about engagement.  And we need marketing people to recognise the value of this role and support it too, because it ultimately leads to their gain.

I remain extremely positive about our community going forward. There are challenges for Geospatial media ahead, and those challenges extend to the whole community. Excellent audiences demand excellence in their publications.  I look forward to the next challenge. Thank you for your support and readership of Perspectives.

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