#TBT How GIS Changed my Perspective of Geography

With GIS Day  upon us once again this week, it seemed an appropriate time to look back on this post we shared previously. A passionate GEO Jobe staffer shared his perspective and history of how geography, GIS, and spatial reasoning has played a huge role in his career. No doubt many of you or perhaps people you know or work with have a similar story.

gis day
GIS Day provides an international forum for users of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society (Esri)

From our former team member, Elliot…

I stopped to think about how GIS has progressed and changed my perspective on Geography, personally, from high school until now.  Why high school?  I took Geography (it was required) in 10th grade and it was what I expected.

I learned the states, countries of the world, mountain ranges, etc.  I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought or attention as I figured I wasn’t going to be spending any time outside of the classroom on this subject again.  The only map I could think of needing in the future was a road map and I could go to a gas station and get one without needing to further study the subject.  Furthermore, I didn’t have plans to be a teacher or a scientist that would need to use geography and those were really the only two things you could do with geography as a career, right?  This perspective lasted me through high school and a little through college.

So, what happened to start me on the path to seeing beyond my own blinders?  I was, and am, a business major and had many courses that required me, or a group I was in, to choose where a business should go, find competitors, perform surveys, etc.  Business plans, important goals and directions a company would head rested heavily on this information.  Through the Internet at school we found an online program that would help show us the information we had on a map.  This gave us exactly what we needed and we could prove it to our professor by showing the information visually analyzed together.  This was really cool.  That experience led to my next shift in perspective – terminology (I will be addressing this in a future blog post in more detail).  Studying business, the word “location” was more relevant to me than “Geography”.  The software I used was really cool but I didn’t know it was called GIS, it was just something that helped me with location and decisions.

My first job out of college is when I learned that the web-based asset management system I was selling was a called a Geographic Information System (GIS).  That was when the light bulb finally lit that Geography was more than my traditional point of view.  It was obviously one of those light bulbs that starts off dim and then comes to brightness over time.  Since then all of my jobs, but one, have used online GIS in some form or another and I’ve learned that every industry there is can use GIS in multiple ways.  I wonder that if I had a chance to go back in time and tell my 10th grade self that he would be heavily immersed in Geography throughout his career what he would say.  I honestly think a simple three minute conversation would have created a whole new perspective.

Have you had similar experiences or would like to share feelings regarding how Geography has changed your view on certain subjects? We’d love to hear from you or simply tweet us @geojobegis – Happy GIS Week!

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GEOspatial Evangelist & CMO

Geographer, GIS professional, writer, and fan of all things mobile.

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