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What would get YOU to attend NACIS

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#1
natcase

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Attendance at NACIS was down this year from last year, and I'm curious, for those who thought about attending, was there something missing that would have tilted the balance? I'm guessing the three big issues for non-attendance (based on my own spotty attendance over the years) are (1) money, (2) time away from work, and (3) relevance/justification to powers-that-be. So, what keeps you non-attenders from attending, and is there anything NACIS could do that they aren't doing, to get you to come?

(FYI, I am not asking on behalf of the board or the organization or anything except my own interest in seeing the conference well-attended)

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#2
David Medeiros

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Attendance at NACIS was down this year from last year, and I'm curious, for those who thought about attending, was there something missing that would have tilted the balance? I'm guessing the three big issues for non-attendance (based on my own spotty attendance over the years) are (1) money, (2) time away from work, and (3) relevance/justification to powers-that-be. So, what keeps you non-attenders from attending, and is there anything NACIS could do that they aren't doing, to get you to come?

(FYI, I am not asking on behalf of the board or the organization or anything except my own interest in seeing the conference well-attended)


For me it's the locations. Most of the conferences are just too far from home to justify the trip. That said I was planning on going to this years conference since I have family in Florida and could have made a longer vacation out of it. Assuming I have the free time, I'll be at the 2012 Portland OR conference, but that's a ways off.

I can't think of anything that would create a stronger draw for me program wise, it's mostly the travel distances and the interest the location has for me on its own.

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

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#3
James Hines

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Money, passport, a job, & clients. :(

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#4
erik

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Hard to justify the travel expense since I'm not a full-time cartographer. This will not be a problem next year though as the travel cost will be $0.

erik

#5
frax

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I would love to have been there - but the cash flow has been very uneven lately... !
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#6
Laura Miles

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Location - which is really money, I guess. I'll be there in 2012 though as it's in driving distance from Vancouver!
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#7
nonie3234

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The organization I work for is fine with the conference fee, but the travel expenses are hard. This year was perfect, because it was in our home county!

Next year? Not so sure.

#8
ELeFevre

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I understand that NACIS has a diverse membership so this is a bit biased. As a cartographer I would like to see even more "practical cartography"at the conference. Seeing how someone created a certain symbology and the reasoning behind the symbology has a lot more impact than getting a complete "project overview". The big picture project overviews and theoretical presentations are interesting, but it can be difficult to walk away with anything concrete in 15-45 minutes. I also think a stronger focus on map-making would make NACIS more justifiable to the powers-at-be if attendance is an issue.



#9
David Medeiros

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I understand that NACIS has a diverse membership so this is a bit biased. As a cartographer I would like to see even more "practical cartography"at the conference. Seeing how someone created a certain symbology and the reasoning behind the symbology has a lot more impact than getting a complete "project overview" on a project you no nothing about. The big picture project overviews and theoretical presentations are interesting, but if you haven't been involved in the project in some capacity, it's difficult to walk away with anything concrete in 15-45 minutes. I also think a stronger focus on map-making would make NACIS more justifiable to the powers-at-be if attendance is an issue.


Ditto the practical cartography day. That was the big draw for me at Sacramento.

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#10
mlbostwick

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I found that much of this years conference was practical, and there seemed to be fewer theoretical or purely academic presentations than in years past.

#11
Derek Tonn

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I missed this year for the first time in 3-4 years. I really enjoy NACIS, and re-connecting with lots of people I only get to see in-person at the conference! This year though, we had a great sales/exhibit opportunity at another conference the week before, and the web development conference I like to attend from year to year was scheduled right on top of NACIS.

"Tie" for me always goes to sales, as our discretionary funds at our company are limited. We've got to make every dollar count in our travel budget...so when NACIS is up against conferences where I can make $3-$4 for every $1 it costs me to attend, I have to take those other opportunities for the good of our design team.

Also, general design and web development conferences are probably comparable for me to NACIS when it comes to professional development...just because of the style of maps our firm produces. A 3-4 day "Practical Cartography Day" conference would probably make that professional development pendulum swing back in NACIS' favor! That said, graphic design and web development conferences give NACIS a strong run for its money from the standpoint of professional development.

Long story short, timing of the conference and allocation of funds (tie goes to selling opportunities). I wish I could have seen everyone again in Florida though.
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#12
tanya

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Thanks for asking this question, Nat. As I was putting the program together this year I thought, surely, with the great content that came flooding in, that it would be the biggest conference we've seen. As the date drew nearer, it was clear that this was not going to happen. That being said, we still did have over 150 people. But, I started asking some questions.

Here is what I found:

1. Autocarto in Florida just a month later, some who wanted to attend NACIS had to choose between the two
2. Tighter than normal budgets
3. West Coast participation, in general lower (I don't have stats on this, but a combination of 2009 meeting being in CA, and the long distance to travel)
4. Waiting for next year (Madison), or the following year (Portland)--related to budget/travel distance
5. Unusual circumstances, there were easily 10-15 pretty regular attendees who had abnormal circumstances this year

The content did prove to be great. I've heard so much about the quality and practical nature of what was delivered this year: from representing terrain to working with APIs and creating/marketing/approach to creating Map Apps to unique approaches to bike mapping and quality control (just to name a few). The intensity of the energy following the conference has also been a delightful surprise. One thing to note, our content from year to year is based on those who submit abstracts. I hear, and have heard, a lot about the desire for more practical content. I specifically sought out some people to fill this request, but encourage all of you to send ideas for content and people who you would like to see present, and we can work together to bring in certain people/topics.

We will be sending out a note on how to get involved, for those who have been asking, for next year. In the meantime, if anyone would like some more information on that, please feel free to contact me: tanya@nacis.org

I'm also very interested to hear about ideas on how to make these topics available beyond the conference, for those who cannot make it--but still operate within a very modest budget. A new development that everyone should be aware of is that Alex Tait is a section editor in CP of a new section called "Practical Cartographer's Corner" where he will be sharing his presentation for PCD as the first submission. This will continue to be an outlet for sharing information for practitioners. If we see enough demand and contribution to this, then we should, as a community, explore other outlets for sharing this information. I am open to brainstorming other ways of getting the great content and work of NACIS members out there.

We do have a Facebook page, where a small team of us try to promote geo-spatial activities, generally, with a focus on what our members are doing. We struggle to find all of the work our members are doing, so don't be bashful in sharing a latest product or map, and we'll help to let others know about your work. (Again, email me, with thoughts or FB post ideas: tanya@nacis.org)

NACIS on facebook

#13
David Medeiros

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We do have a Facebook page, where a small team of us try to promote geo-spatial activities, generally, with a focus on what our members are doing. We struggle to find all of the work our members are doing, so don't be bashful in sharing a latest product or map, and we'll help to let others know about your work. (Again, email me, with thoughts or FB post ideas: tanya@nacis.org)

NACIS on facebook


For those of us who loathe Facebook, how about a regular old blog or RSS feed for sharing this info? Or duplicate the FB posts on LinkedIn?

For me FB just isn't where I would get info related to my professional life. I really dislike FB so I could be an anomaly, but I suspect I'm not alone. You might reach more people by cross posting on LinkedIn in both the NACIS site and the GIS or Cartography groups. Also, maybe send notices to some of the existing major map blogs. I get most of my industry alerts and info from a small number of map focused blogs.

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#14
natcase

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Thanks, Tanya. Well summarized.

I'm trying to put my finger on what I want to see more of. I hear the calls for more "practical cartography," but I think it's like a gross approximation of what excites me. As someone who is engaged in the practical everyday work of pulling together an abstraction of concrete reality, questions of how to negotiate that back and forth tend to be what get my interest: how to translate direct physical measurements into meaningful abstracted graphics, how to take principles of design and make them work... and then backwards: how to take abstract data and make it reflect the real experience of the map user; how to derive design principles from day-to-day practice.

I'd like to suggest we think about the word "practice." I know I've been doing it a lot this year, not always in cartographic terms. We are cartographic practitioners, and we are always simultaneously trying to produce good objects for clients and users, and trying to learn and do better next time. We are engaged in making things (practically), instead of thinking about things. We have a specific business model, in which we practice our crafts like a lawyer or doctor "practice" theirs. Some of us even think of map practice like a religious person thinks about their "practice" (I'm thinking here specifically about Steve Halloway's work on Right Mapping).

The point is, discussions about process are more interesting than discussions about product. Exploring each others working is how we can learn the most from each other, as interesting as looking at end products is. And there was a lot of interesting talk about process this year.

To step back into the concrete, I wonder if reverting to more of the group/roundtable discussions we had maybe 10 years ago—business roundtables, software roundtables, etc—would stimulate discussion. I certainly found them very useful when they were more of a part of the conference. They ended up focusing on specific issues and bottlenecks in our lives, and also really strengthened our sense of each other not as cut-throat competitors, but colleagues in a kind of guild. Again, the discussion at these roundtables pretty quickly got down to the nuts and bolts of process.

Nat Case
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#15
DaveB

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Some people aren't able to access facebook from work. :P (I haven't checked to see if we are still blocked where I work as I'm not big on using facebook either).

I also wanted to add a note that there are travel grants available from NACIS for both professionals and students. The grants won't cover all of your travel expenses by any means, but might make the difference between being able to afford to come or not. You can keep an eye on the NACIS site for next year or look for announcements in places like CartoTalk.
Dave Barnes
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