In his blog zen GIS Development, Dave Bouwman asks what I think is a pretty important question – why aren’t we all talking together about GIS? He notes that a natural use of blogs is to facilitate communication and interaction within a community. This isn’t really happening in the GIS community. We pretty much read each others’ blogs and don’t really talk about what we’ve read. Dave things it might have something to do with the relatively small community and the lack of techno-savvy users out there.
I’m not sure he’s got it quite right. I think the small community should, in theory, stimulate conversation rather than repress it. In a community measured in thousands if not tens of thousands like the software development blog community, it becomes extremely hard to keep track of much of anyone. Lots of meaningless garbage can be introduced by nearly anyone at any time. With a smaller community measured in the hundreds, you could actually build some sort of reputation (good or bad). The quantity might not be there, but the quality should improve. Tech chops shouldn’t matter as much either, since obviously those of us already in the blog community should have the skills needed.
If you ask me, I think the reason lies more with the newness of it all. There still aren’t that many GIS/Mapping blogs out there compared to a lot of fields. I think most of us are still trying to find our voices and places in the community. My guess is the readers are interested more in finding information rather than talking. The blogs end up being more of a resource than a community. Perhaps we should, as a community of both blog writers and blog readers, attempt to address this situation. If we talk more, we can collaborate more, overcome problems more effectively, and perhaps save time and resources.