Monday, August 18, 2008

collaboration not competition

When Tanya told me about her ideas, I immediately began thinking about several years of sharing creative work once a year with other people who love maps at the NACIS annual meeting. For decades some of the most talented people in our profession have gathered to discuss all things map related. It is a network where collaboration and innovation between academics, students, government agencies, and professionals is fostered. Along with NACIS, there have been other meeting places, such as the Map-Mac list serve, and a the recent addition of CartoTalk which have broadened the network internationally, in addition to other professional organizations.

Tanya and I had participated in previous events at the NACIS annual meeting, namely MapOff. MapOff was a non-competitive exercise, if you will. Five cartographers were given the same task and asked to produce his or her own map. The map was then presented to the entire organization and critiqued. This was once done for a client, but was always done outside of the conference, and always as individuals, or within offices.

This kick-off event is not MapOff and it is not simply a replacement for MapOff. mapgiving is much larger. It is not something we are gathering to do just for this conference. But, it is an embodiment of NACIS, encouraging people within the field to work together. It only seems right to bring the two together for this event, and hopefully for many future endeavors.

Instead of working parallel to one another, as MapOff had done, mapgiving will pool cartographic talent to see what all of these great minds can produce. This mission will continue, as we work to get the word out there to let organizations know we are here, ready to help them. We will be asking cartographers to donate some time to join us in this.

Why 12 hours and why all in one night?

We decided to do the kick-off event in one night, because it was the most we felt we could ask people to go out of their way around the time of the conference. Most professionals arrive the day before Practical Cartography Day, so we wanted to capture this time.

Previously, cartographers were asked to prepare something ahead of time. We did not want them thinking about this ahead of time, we did not want them to be forced to find time to fit this in with their client work. Additionally, we wanted to foster new relationships with these professional colleagues, getting to know one another on a much more personal level than trading files via email and ftp.

Hosting this high-energy kick-off event allows us to really demonstrate how much fun and how much excitement we have for mapgiving, and to share it with the world. While, at the same time, encouraging more cartographers to become involved in this cause.

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