Thursday, December 26, 2013

Geospatial in the Technology Revolution

The January 2014 issue of Harpers has an intriguing article by Jeff Madrick, “The Anti-Economist - The Digital Revolution That Wasn’t”. 

Mr Madrick restates one of the Adam Smith’s principles; rising productivity is the source of the wealth of nations, in terms of technology. "Technologies that disrupt the labor force in one area eventually tend to benefit everyone because of increases in productivity.  Increases in the amount of goods and services delivered per hour of work generally lead to greater prosperity. Some jobs are eliminated but more and better paying jobs often replace them."

"Productivity growth actually started to fall well before the 2008 recession.  While some of the early hardware and software developments did create as much as 3% productivity gains, this did not last." 

At the heart of his thesis is that the new information companies, and in fact the new communication/information technology revolution does not create jobs.  We are four decades into the digital age and the economic benefits have not been manifested.

Granted this one view of the information age and its economic impact, but there are some interesting challenges for us in the geospatial information industry.  Geospatial technologies are part of the information age revolution. There are certainly new jobs in geospatial information that did not exist 5, 10, or 20 years ago.  If one of the trends in the geospatial industry is toward web based solutions and apps that can present answers to common questions, where are the high-end geospatial analysis professionals? As geospatial professionals are we really pushing forward and looking forward?  Are we being disruptive and contributing to productivity gains?  Some interesting challenges to consider as we move into the New Year.

The full article can be found here (it may require a login to get to the full article)

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