Conundrum: A difficult and intricate problem.
I’m starting to resurface. A bit. I’ve been working on a job and just had a major breakthrough. One that will let me finish it I think. I’ve been busy wrestling with problems. Problems with work or problems at work and problems that have nothing to do with work. The personal ones are the worst. More on that later.
Anyway I had the chance to go and speak at the National Trails Conference that is being held in Chattanooga. GIS is making enough headway into everything that they had a lot of people that wanted an overview of ArcGIS. They had a mixup with the normal guy who does this and asked if I could come in and do the workshop. Ten years ago if you asked me to speak for four hours I would have had a coronary. Now it’s hard to stop in four hours. That’s the bad thing about workshops for me – knowing when and where to stop. I can’t explain ArcGIS in four hours. I can’t explain anything in four hours.
The conundrum hit me when I started speaking or actually it’s been hitting me for quite some time. I’m an ESRI Certified/Authorized Trainer. I’m an ESRI Business Partner. I’m a business sponsor of URISA. I can teach the Open Source URISA Workshop. I’m also a GISP. My problem is turning into what /how do I answer certain things.
Problems started immediately at the workshop. People started asking questions. Good questions. Questions of a GIS nature and not so much questions about ArcGIS. How do I get my data on the web? How do I convert my GPS file from my Garmin Unit? How do I create a profile of my trail? What constitutes GIS data? Where does data come from…?
In starting this business I had a few goals. Two of them were become an ESRI Business Partner and become an ESRI Trainer. I attained those goals. The fun started earlier this year when I became more heavily involved in GA URISA. I taught a workshop on Open Source GIS Software. I knew about Open Source ( I use Ubuntu. I ditched Microsoft Office for Open Office). I knew about Open Source GIS software (GRASS, QGIS, etc) before the workshop but I hadn’t used it. In order for me to teach it I needed to use it and I have. I like it.I like the history behind it. I like the fact that just about all the commercial GIS software have toes in the Open Source World.
The whole thing about Open Source GIS Software is that it’s standards based. It’s not flavored towards a particular vendor. A WMS is a WMS. Things work (not perfectly all the time). As a GISP I should give the best answer possible. My conundrum: what if it’s not an ESRI answer. I really wished the workshop had been an introduction to GIS. I would have felt better about giving it. We covered the basics of ArcGIS from adding data, symbology and plotting. I need to change a bit on what I did – I tried to cram too much into four hours. Probably out of the four hours we spent an hour talking about data and GIS Issues.
One gentleman wanted to share out his trail data with users. My suggestion was Open Street Map. One wanted to convert GPX files. My suggestion DNR Garmin, GPS Babel, or Quantum GIS. How do we put a map on a web page? Geoserver, Open Layers, MapServer, ArcGIS Server. There wasn’t one answer to fit – but a lot of answers that would work.
At the end of the workshop one of the guys came up and asked if I was an ESRI representative. I answered yes….then no. Then sorta yes since I am a Business Partner. Then sorta no since they most likely wouldn’t claim affiliation with me (I think).
What am I? I’m a GIS Guy who owns a company that will solve geospatial problems. In front of me I’m running ArcGIS 10. To my left I have PostGIS and Quantum GIS running. It makes me more capable. It makes me more deadly. It makes me better.
…but I do worry.