Jack of All…

Apparently even by saying something like “My Daughter and her friends say ________” wrenches me into a category with the likes of Mr. Wilson and the old man who owns the junkyard in the movie Stand By Me. So, I try not to say those things. Not because I don’t want to seem old like that, but rather because one of my cardinal goals in life; Don’t be irrelevant. In a parent/child relationship, I think that relevance is fluid and dynamic. Your child’s undying admiration in kindergarten may wain in middle school and high school, and then returns as they buy a house or start their own family.

In your profession, relevance is effort. It takes time to stay relevant. Not only for the things you say and do, but your knowledge you have about your particular field. GIS technology is constantly changing. There are so many blogs, articles, books, softwares and location based services to keep up on, it’s nearly a full time job to stay on top of it all.

I recently spoke to someone about the GIS industry and my specific job. He asked me if I had a choice, where would I focus my energy. Programming? Mobile Technologies? Web Technologies? Desktop Analysis? Database Management? What kind of programming? VB.net? c-Sharp.net? Java? Python? JavaScript? Silverlight? Flex? I used to hate this question, because I felt it showed my irrelevance. I also used to hate being labeled a ‘jack of all trades’ because it came with the usually appendix ‘master of none.’

Now, I think that in order to stay relevant in my particular GIS position, I need to be a ‘master of none’. As the point person for GIS in the county, I cannot spend too much time on one particular aspect of the industry’s technology.  If you devote all your time to learning Silverlight or Flex you will turn around and see how far we’ve progressed in mobile products. Or if you learn how to systematically pull the spatial envelope of a feature with Python in PostgreSQL, you’ll miss the fact that it’s inherent in Sequel Server 2008. There are many benefits with being a jack of all GIS trades. I know just enough of all the above to give my customers the best and informed options. I’m not specifically a .net programmer, web developer, database administrator or focused on any one technology. If I were, I’d become irrelevant.


One thought on “Jack of All…

Comments are closed.