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The Power of Play (my speech at the awards dinner GISWORX’13)

The Power of Play (my speech at the awards dinner GISWORX’13)

I was recently asked to be the Guest Speaker at the wards dinner and ceremony at GISWORX’13, I was asked if I could say something motivational/inspirational for 5 minutes…. I hope this was okay:

“Good evening fellow geo colleagues and distinguished guests, I feel very honoured to be asked to present at this wonderful conference.   I think we can all agree that GISTEC have done a marvellous job fitting so much in to 3 days, with such interesting presentations and workshops!

I was asked whether I would talk to you now about something motivational or inspirational potentially related to the conference themes.

But all I have come up with is the idea we all need to find time to play.   Let me try and explain to you what I believe is the ….

… the power of play

My first memory of a computer
My first memory of a computer

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Trivialising Digitising and Analysis : Gamification of GIS?

Trivialising Digitising and Analysis : Gamification of GIS?

Just so you are forewarned, this is a bit of a ramble….

You know you want it....

It came to me in day dream whilst using ArcGIS to digitise my second city for the day, for use in a master planning project. I really quite enjoy the process of plotting roads from a base of satellite imagery. Maybe its just me but there really is something supremely satisfying watching a clean satellite image fill up with little road centre lines. It’s like helping my 2 and ½ year old daughter with her colouring book (or dot-to-dot)… (ok so she’s watching TV and I’m colouring)

Yes! 5000 points for snapping!

Then it struck me what if little clicks and noises (perhaps even a rumbling mouse) would happen every time I laid a vertex or snapped to a feature? You could even have a score table each vertex and snapping got you a point. Every time you came to move an existing vertex a point was deducted! Wow, you could even get a bonus for using complicated analysis

“Congratulations you’ve just earned the Geostatisical Analyst Interpolation badge”

Would it annoy me or spur me on? I had to look in to this….

So apparently this concept is called ‘Gamification’ (I know I looked it up on Wikipedia so it must be true… ) a stupid sounding word that covers the idea of using the psychology of rewards to encourage the adoption of technology.

Yay! Let us treat people like idiots & encourage them to work by rewarding them with arbitrary numbers non-existent prizes….


… except I might quite like aspects about that, of course I absolutely rule out sharing my scores on facebook or twitter with other geo-professionals… I know I would be last and I’m pretty sure @cageyjames would win…

Come on ESRI (or QGIS I don’t mind) gamify my work … and integrate it with Facebook and Twitter I DARE you …. just don’t share my scores with Klout (hey OpenStreetMap sort of does it)

ESRI UK Conference – Thoughts for the Future, suggestions for ESRI UK

ESRI UK Conference – Thoughts for the Future, suggestions for ESRI UK

This is just a bit of random thoughts I took away from the conference mostly to do with social media, it’s not a criticism, I guess I’m just greedy and want more of the ESRI conference goodness….

I agree with Steven here ESRI seems scared of Twitter, and they shouldn’t be!  You don’t need to tell us to “tweet nicely“, most of us have paid to be here and taken time out of work, we’re probably not going to be rude about it.   Effective use of social media means many more people attend who can’t physically be there, surely that’s a win?!   ESRIUK does have twitter accounts and so do many of their staff, some of them even follow me!

I hope ESRI UK management don’t think of social media as trivial, because it’s not.   I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and helpful contacts through it.   As with anything you have to know its limitations, but talking to your customers and potential customers is always good, isn’t it?!

 I think they could add value here by giving it the #esriuk hashtag, not “You Cack 2011” (#eukac2011)  (or even ‘Ewe Cack’?) thanks to Steven for point that out first!   Honestly no one else would be getting their wires crossed on twitter and it would strengthen their brand and link to the ESRI USA accounts better.

TOP TIP: ESRIUK the simple and smaller the hashtag the easier it is for your followers to retweet.  

There could have been tweets going out throughtout the conference advertising various presentations etc… did the sponsors have some good presentations they wanted me to see?  I can’t always be looking at the programme, but I everyone has there smartphone….

The following links provide good insight into social media in business, they may not be industry specific but you can apply their principles:

Matt Deegan “ Radios Twitter Obsession”
SuButcher – JustProfessionals Blog

On a personal note I have found support via twitter can be great and if you do it right you can engage very effectively with some of the ‘movers and shakers’ in the industry who are not necessarily the big players!

A last thing to think about, how about some video streaming for those who can’t make it?  If people like John Popham can do #Twicket with limited bandwidth and resources I’m sure a conference centre hired by the big player in GIS can do it too.    In these belt-tightening times some of ESRI’s customers may not be able to attend the conference but can still be interested in viewing some of the presentations.

Maybe they can gather at a local council office (for those without reliable broadband) instead which will have the bandwith to cope as well… Mini gatherings of GIS professionals getting together to view presentations without the travelling and overnight expenses.   ESRIUK Conference could get an international reach then as well!  Combine that with effective use of twitter and there could be some interesting conversations going on.

Hey, if you’re interested I might even know a company who could host the event for people in Cumbria!

Just an idea but I think it’s worth exploring….

Attending the ESRI UK Conference

Attending the ESRI UK Conference

Okay why a post about some weird acronym type company?  Well in the world of GIS (Geographic Information Systems/Science), ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) a software/consultancy company is a big player.

Yes they are a big corporate entity but in some ways they feel more like a movement, so when their yearly conference comes round I get excited.   Not content with just advertising their products to their customers it feels as if you’re at an event for the GIS industry as a whole.   Whatever issue you might have with ESRI’s software ArcGIS etc… you can’t fault the staff’s enthusiasm and professionalism (well that’s my experience anyway) especially at events like this.

Why the blog post this year? Well because I submitted a paper about using some software in our workflow called CityEngine and was asked to do a presentation on both days.   You can find out more about ESRI here and ESRI UK here, I would also recommend some Wikipedia research on GIS.
You may have come to this post because I mentioned you somewhere, if you want to add something more (links, information etc…) or correct something contact me or add a comment to the relevant post.

  1. ESRI UK Conference – Day 1
  2. ESRI UK Conference – Day 2
  3. ESRI UK Conference – My Presentations
  4. ESRI UK Conference – People I met
  5. ESRI UK Conference – Thoughts for the Future, suggestions for ESRI UK
  6. Back in London – not really related to the conference more musings of visiting our nation’s capital.


Local Enterprise Partnerships: I think this is what they had in mind….

Local Enterprise Partnerships: I think this is what they had in mind….

Local Enterprise Partnerships: What the Government was really looking for?
Top Tip: Retweet this button on blogger

Top Tip: Retweet this button on blogger

Okay I quite like Twitter, it’s allowed me to find websites articles and professionals that I wouldn’t otherwise be aware of.  Anyway I saw that one of my more the blogs I visit more often on the web (digital urban) had placed these nice retweet buttons on each of its articles.  So I asked “how do I do that?” on my favourite search engine.
For those of you interested I found this site to be most useful (it’s just case of copy and paste) for those of you using blogger:

Updated: Link changed to official tweetmeme site (01/09/2010)
I’m on twitter…

I’m on twitter…

You can click on the Twitter icon under “About GeoPlanIT” to the right to follow me…. its a bit of an experiment at the moment so please be patient!