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Monday, June 8, 2015

Geospatial Media Landcape Changes

In the Beginning...

I first noticed "online geospatial media" in the 1990s. I was working at Esri and I was loyal reader of Directions Magazine. Later I started my own newsletter, GIS Monitor, and briefly edited EOM. For the last ten years I served as as Directions' Executive Editor.

It was just about ten years ago that online geospatial media offerings exploded. Blogs were the new hot thing back then and to celebrate I wrote A Reader’s Guide to Geoblogs. I was a big fan of Planet Geospatial, James Fee's automated geospatial blog aggregation site and gave him a made-up award: the Directions Media Special Achievement in Blogging Award for 2006.

Fee shut that site down last year. And, last week I learned SlashGeo, a human-curated aggregation site shut down. Another effort to consolidate geospatial in one place, GISBuzz, seems to be gone, too. I saw on Twitter that it was "for sale" as recently as May 24. Now the domain is parked.

And Today

If you are into blog aggregation solutions, I can point you to a two options that are still running.
  • Planet Geospatial - I guess a version of the Planet Geospatial code is still running.
  • Best of the Blogs - Spatial Source, a publication based in Australia, offers weekly roundups of content from around the world.
I think the time of blog aggregation, at least in geospatial, has passed. And, this discussion at Reddit/GIS, may support my contention.

Back in the day, when blogging was new and readers didn't know what was out there, aggregators were invaluable. But now, with Twitter and other tools to help curate content, I know I find relevant more quickly and easily. I've built up list of people to follow on Twitter and they rarely miss anything! I use a few other tools and sources, notably Reddit/GIS, to find the thoughtful discussion and more obscure items I might miss. 

What's Old is New Again

What are back, at least for me, are humanly curated e-mail newsletters and podcasts. These are created by passionate people who pluck out and comment on news in specific sectors. I'll read the odd geo blog post if I see it on Twitter or (dare I admit it, LinkedIn) but mostly I seek out and spend my time with these offerings. I read:
  • Audrey Watters Hack Education Weekly - I based my GIS ed newsletter on hers.
  • For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report - All the communications news/insight you need in a one hour weekly podcast by two PR professionals, one in California and one in England.
  • Tom Merritt's Daily Tech News Show - I depend on Tom et al., to cull through the tech noise and get me the important stuff in this daily 30 minute podcast.
  • AAG Newsletter - The folks at SmartBrief who publish this and other newsletters do a really nice job on this weekly and often find a few things I missed.
Even James Fee has an e-mail newsletter! It was weekly, but now seems to be monthly.
SpatialTau is my weekly newsletter that goes out every Wednesday. The archive shows up in my blog a month after the newsletter is published. If you’d like to subscribe, please do so here.
Aside from the SmartBrief produced AAG newsletter, the other three have something important in common. They come from individuals who I feel I know. I've read Audrey Watters for probably four years now and listened to her podcast when she had one. Yep, I know her. I've listened to FIR (what the cool kids call it) for nearly ten years and can recite the intro from memory. I contributed a half dozen comments to the podcast over the years. Tom Merritt's been on my iPod since Buzz Outloud and I even kicked in $50 to support the show. I kicked some money in for Audrey, too.

I can say that at this point in my media life I am looking for "good" content, but I am also looking for "relationships."