Recently I returned from the GeoDesign summit in Redlands, CA and met a lot of interesting people doing a lot of different work from varied disciplines. While there, a question came up during lunch with one of my colleagues. It was regarding whether this whole “GeoDesign” thing would just end up being a fad (this general concern is echoed by James Fee and is legitimate). My answer to that question went something like this:
It really doesn’t matter if the term GeoDesign sticks; what I think will stick around is the core question of bringing science more squarely into design practice. This question is not a new one, as many have pointed out including Jack Dangermond. What GeoDesign represents is a naming of the beast. While it is not the only way to move a concept forward, it is a convenient method to label something to organize around. For example, you can find a plethora of blog posts critiquing “cloud computing”, but so far it’s stuck. Some people abuse the term, others don’t know what it is, but I’d argue that the concept is moving forward (with some potential pitfalls nonetheless). And it will come to pass that something else will replace it, maybe universal computing, super-redundant-never-off-fastest-ever computing, or maybe we’ll just call it Chuck (or maybe we’ll all carry a copy of the entire Internet on a thumb drive), but the core ideas will push forward and evolve with technology.
What matters most is that we are doing something, that we are actively engaged in a collective conversation about this, and that we improve through education, research and practice. There is no reason to have a professional organization, I think GeoDesign is more powerful as a subset of many other professional organizations. Our call here is to keep working together as disjointed professionals attempting to understand what this all means. While there are common languages that may need to be invented, new tools and approaches yet to come out of the lab, and general confusion about what outcomes we want, there is an opportunity to iteratively build toward something increasingly more coherent. GeoDesign will be defined by the people who participate in it, by the examples that emerge from it, and by the people that benefit from it (whatever it is). That is an exciting opportunity.
I will continue blogging about GeoDesign into the future as it evolves and emerges from many voices. PlaceMatters will also be helping to launch GeoDesignWorld (in partnership with ESRI and the University of Santa Barbara), which will serve as a portal and community site for people working around GeoDesign.
Check back for an interview I did with Jack Dangermond on the topic of the future of GeoDesign.