It’s Not About the Bike

This is a quick and hopefully, obvious post.

At Sparkgeo, we build apps that have a point. Before technology, before architecture, before design, there always needs to be a point.

In general, a GIS portal is an excuse, and a stand alone web map is usually misinterpreted (except by GIS folks, who just want criticize the spatial reference system, in lieu of their own, favorite). A map, however can be a very useful tool. So step 1 in any geoweb process is figuring out what the point in the exercise actually is.

> What is the message?

> Is that message bolstered by a map?

> How is that map to be presented to best convey the message?

At no point there did we talk about mapping servers, or sources of technology, or databases, or mapping fabrics, or scale, or languages, or even formats. We just asked the “what” question.

Here’s the fisrt tip, and its a goodie: “Figure out who the real client is, and ask them what they want”

Hint: It might not be the person who is paying you…

The first question of any mapping / web project must be asking what, not how. If, as a consultant, or employee, or any sort of resource you are thinking “I could do this map because I have this technology”, you have forgotten that you should be saying “I should do this map because it would be useful” or “I should do this map because its the best way of representing this feature / event / story”, or best of all “I should do this map because its important that this story is told”.

Technology comes later; it’s not about the bike.

(That said, if you want to stretch this cliche unreasonably, it could be said that there are special ‘enhancements’ we can apply to make your map go extra, extra fast)