Five New Years Resolutions to enhance your Spatial Career

I’ve been remiss with this blog for the past month or so. My brain is wrapped around this one post, and its just not jelling, but thats a discussion for another day.

With the end of the year rolling around its time to tell yourself that you’re going to lose weight, get the gym more, and spend more time with your kids. But lets face it, food is amazing, you’re fucking lazy and the kids are great for MAYBE an hour. Why not make a resolution that will enhance your career. Or, well while we’re being honest, won’t send you to the corner office , but will at least give you a different perspective. At the very least, I’ll make more sense on twitter.

This is for all Spatial professionals, from Analysts, to Developers to whatever the hell a Specialist is.

1. Resolve to mess around with Raster Data:

When I first started in this industry, Raster data wasn’t cheap nor accessible. It was big, expensive, and the processing power of systems at the time (IT HAS 4 GIG OF RAM), Raster was hard to deal with. Now between Amazon hosting Landsat, Drones, Planetlabs and just people tying iPhones to Weather balloons, Raster is becoming ubiquitous. Thanks Google. So download some, find a tutorial and figure things out. Then, find some more, and solve a silly problem you make up, like “How many blue cars are parked on the street near my favorite restaurant while this data collector was above. Else, you could buy a book or find a lab.

2. Resolve to go hang out with other Spatial Folk:

Some of us work in a geo vacuum. We’re stuck with IT nerds, Environmental Geeks, or at worse, Douchebag Intel Analyst. YOU NEED TO GET YOUR MOTHERFUCKING GEO ON. Between Maptime Chapters, ESRI Regional, National and International events, FOSS4G Conferences or just use Meetup and type in GIS.

You’ll meet like minded individuals, and maybe someone you follow on the Twitters, or a blog you read. Swap knowledge, ideas, methodologies and spit if you’re single. The key thing to remember is, everyone you meet knows something you don’t.

3. Resolve to leave your comfort zone:

Get to work, start application X, make sure Y is up and running, same requests same methods. Humans love repetitive task; keeps the mind sharp. NOOOO. Leave you comfort zone. Thinking about your processes, is there a technological or new methodology that might make the process faster, simpler, or just better? Step away from what you’ve done, and walk toward what you are going to do. Are you an ArcSDE Database expert? Learn PostGIS, Oracle Spatial, or even that train wreck of SQL Server Spatial. Desktop Specialist, pick up Python, or recreate you process in QGIS, just to see how it does it.

4. Resolve to flirt a bit with Data Science:

Is no secret that I believe Spatial is going to be consumed by Data Science. Now, I’m not suggesting you run out and learn R or Pandas. Just read enough to gain an understanding of what a Data Scientist does, and how they visualize data. There are Podcasts, Websites, dead trees and even hot Expats with blogs.

5. Resolve to create something, not for work but for fun:

Start a blog, make a pretty map and submit it to the 2017 Geohipster Calendar. Start a podcast. Yes its hard, yes its hard to eeek out an extra 20 or 30 minutes a day, but start something. Stop being just a consumer, and be a producer. Or as Kevin Smith would say “Be a maker, not just a taker.”

Just pick one, and take a little bit of time to do it. Overtime it will become part of you and your career make up. Trust me, you’ll be a better person, employee and geographer.

Originally published at on December 4, 2015.