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Allen Carroll built suspense for the upcoming interactive atlas at the National Geographic. Then we heard from Tom Moritz, who stretched our perception of the magnitude of museum place collections by citing the three billion species that exist in 6,500 natural history museums. We then heard from Scott Morehouse, who stretched our perception of place with his extreme examples. The one I remember - 90210 - which tipped off whispers of other limitless possibilities. We then heard from Lee Hancock from GO2, who spoke of the cell phones of the future all having built-in GPS. I have slight concern there about an interoperability issue. We talked about a universal address but it is not yet universal, so there’s an interoperability issue we might want to discuss.
Then we moved to Session 2, and I don’t know about y’all, but quite contrary to the fear of being lulled to sleep by a presentation on authority files, I found myself mesmerized by the passionate and flamboyant Roger Payne. For a moment I wasn’t sure if I was at the movies or at church. And then I thought that perhaps it was a bit of both, because I was trying to focus in on the movie, and I think it was The Apostle, and then I wasn’t sure if it was Robert Duval or Billy Bob but I was actually at work last night checking out the movie to see. Anyway then, after he spoke, I was just completely blown away because I was astounded to hear Randall Flynn answer the call. One of his first sentences was, “These are my confessions”. I think I lost what they were, but it was quite a thing. But I learned a lot about the difference, of course, with the domestic and foreign names.
Then I found myself on the way home in the Metro with Judy Hunter and I don’t know what it was, but everything we discussed about local locations had to do with, "well, it’s across from this church," "it is down the street from that church." So it carried through there too.
Then we were treated to the richness and diversity of the panel of five, with Tim Gregg, Wayne Furr, Tim Norton, Scott Jukes and Kathleen O’Brien. I was certainly struck by the 83-page tutorial I heard about, and the 90 page guidelines. That’s of some concern, and that is certainly something we would like to address.
The most critical remark that was made, though, was the comment from Tim Norton - (of course after he showed his badge to us we knew enough to listen to everything he said). He suggested that it would be desirous to get input from the common user, and mentioned that he would have liked to have been invited earlier.
I think that what I am going to spin off now is something that resonated the most with me when I re-read the preparation materials and the technical challenges for this workshop. You will see there many times “there is a need”, “there is a need”, “there is a need". I am wondering if we really do know and understand the populations that we are going to serve. We have to really be more specific about “there is a need”. Of course this changes with the population that is interested. I was talking to my son last night, and he among the rest said, “what is a gazetteer?” So there is a lot of education to be done, and it is really a good forum here, so far, to do so.
This session is on the components of information services. What we are supposed to focus on here is how to incorporate gazetteers in other information infrastructures, where place is not an end unto itself; perhaps thinking of information infrastructures in ways that we haven't thought of before. This is something that we are going to hear about with all the speakers today. But there is another thing that is of concern. If the existing gazetteers are not adequate, how can we really communicate to these users or the populations or potential users? How can we communicate the requirements and implement them to improve available systems so not everybody has to start from scratch? So that we can add to and enhance the existing gazetteers - (we are seeing a proliferation of gazetteers on the Web). One of the most important things I think we need to do is to define the things that are missing, and prioritize those.
One of the common needs expressed so far seems to be for defining regions by polygons. In some cases, the existing gazetteers did not include target features. In my case, it did not include the third dimension or the vertical structure, and who knows about other dimensions. We did talk about time, which could be considered another dimension.
I did get into some of the gazetteers (on the Web), and I really didn’t want to wait that long to get my response. So I think that some of the existing ones need to be improved in that way.
Somebody mentioned that there have been too many acronyms used in the presentations, so I am asking the speakers this morning to make sure that they spell out what they are saying. Again, I think one of the results of this workshop should be that prioritization. Because we can continually list - there is a need, there is a need, there is a need. Well, we have been able to continue civilization without these things, so we have to have something more substantial behind that.
Our first speaker will be Doug Nebert. Doug and I have worked together
for quite a long time. I am FGDC representative for NASA's Clearinghouse
and he is the Clearinghouse coordinator. He has been at USGS for 16 years.
You can read this in Doug's statement on the DGIE website, but the best
part about what he contributed is his statement of interest. So if he doesn't
reiterate this, I'm going to do it. "It would be helpful to establish a
searching convention for the return of structured geospatial place information
similar to DNS" and so on. And then the other comment that he makes is
that the creation of a protocol and syntax for the querying and retrieval
of geographic place information would be a most useful outcome, a geographic
service that providers could adopt.