The Age of Maps

There are some changes in the way that you work that you really notice and there are others that just seem to creep up on you.

When I started my first job, computers were very rare, with just the odd green screen on a counter to handle transactional processing. Eventually they became much more common, with colour screens, word processing applications and email.  I still recall my first black and white laptop, my first mobile phone (which was attached to the car) and my first CompuServe email account.

What was much more subtle, however, was the change that this technology had upon my colleagues and the way they worked.  When I first visited head office, just outside Cambridge, there were no screens on people’s desks.  Everyone faced inwards, towards each other in clusters of desks.  A few years later and everyone had a screen.  By now they had all turned round and faced away from each other.

Today was one of those days when I realised that things had changed for ever.

 I was in our monthly corporate management team meeting, which had its usual smattering of PowerPoint presentations.  Only a few months ago these consisted of words (usually too many) and often unnecessary images scraped from the internet.

Today was different though.  Fundamentally different but it was not until well after the meeting that I realised.  There were three presentations, all had words and all had pictures but all three had maps.

Each had used mapping information to analyse their data and construct their arguments. Our Geographical Information Systems had moved to centre stage in our quest to manage knowledge and make better decisions.  It was great, maps had suddenly become the future and now there is no going back.

Today we moved into the age of maps.

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