Saturday, October 10, 2009

I Went Back to Ohio...

...or, more specifically, to Cleveland. I had been there some 12 years back for a conference of the Census State Data Center network.

This time (from last Sunday through Thursday) I was there for the annual conference of the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC). This is the national GIS coordination group that I am part of and for which, until this past week, I served on the Board of Directors. My second term ended with this conference and I chose to step aside and let some younger folks join the leadership; I'm still chair of the communications committee, so I'll keep a hand in things.

We had a lively conference with many and varied presentations and discussions on topics ranging from governance of public data to the new social media tools that are starting (finally) to be used by state and federal agencies. We tried some experimentation with twitter as part of the conference, encouraging attendees (and some who followed along from home) to continue discussions on-line using the hash-tag "#nsgic2009."

I was traveling on a federal grant, rather than state funds, and I chose to drive out to Cleveland to save money and be able to bring others from Delaware along. It gave us a chance to visit the "Point of Beginning," on the Pennsylvania/Ohio border west of Pittsburgh. There is a monument that commemorates the starting point for the Public Lands survey System which was used from Ohio west to lay out the rectangular township and range subdivisions of the "new" lands in the United States.

This is where state shapes started trending towards the square.

While at the conference, I was not able to get out much. NSGIC packs as much into these events as possible. We met from eight in the morning until past nine many evenings. We were never bored, but we were pretty tired-out.

I did have a chance to visit the rock and Roll Hall of Fame, though. We had our off-site social there one evening and it was great fun. There are others among the GIS group who share with me a love of both punk rock and the Grateful Dead, so we made small pilgrimages together to different parts of the museum. The Hall features a Bruce Springsteen collection just now.; that also brought me back to my childhood.

And we found just a sliver of time for golf. But of that, more later.

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