Geo Week News

November 2, 2011

You Do What Now?

Tobias Biz Card

We’ve now had a few weeks to get through some of the basic issues involved in laser scanning and 3D imaging. I hope you have enjoyed visiting some of these topics as much as I have. But, with the holiday party and cocktail season fast approaching, it’s time we get down to a most timely issue. When people ask what you do for work, what do you say?

Personally, I never know what to say. I try to skew my answer toward the audience at hand but I usually end up stammering around until I start listing example projects as if they asked for a statement of qualifications.

Technically (according to my license) I am a Land Surveyor. However, I haven’t done anything that required my stamp in a long time. Besides, it gives a very different idea to people compared to what my day-to-day activities are. Something along the lines of Metrologist seems more accurate, but most people think that is a weatherman so it doesn’t help much either (if you don’t believe me, try Googling metrologist). In search of the grand unifying theory of what I do I tried to reduce everything to its most basic component. I came up with the idea that we trade in any data that can be reduced to coordinate information. Upon saying this to people they immediately want to offer examples for you to pronounce correct or incorrect. Here’s is the thing. I’ve never heard one that is incorrect! “Maps?” Yes. “Like web apps?” Sure. “Do you use smartphones?” Every day. I’ve come to realize that we live in a 4D world and as such, no data that we have can not be associated with a positional attribute of some sort. So, I’ve dropped that line as too general to be any good.

I had a conversation about this with some colleagues in Houston a few weeks back and one said, “I just tell people I’m a photographer, the girls seem to like that!” I tried to explain to this younger man that as the “girls” turned into “ladies,” many would find billable hours more attractive than artistic pursuits. As a result I have not yet had my business cards reprinted. Besides, Professional Photographer is on the same boat as Land Surveyor when it comes to future job security.

Dr. Fϋnke was both an Analyst and a Therapist.

Do we need a new name for what we do? Perhaps, we do. It needs to be descriptive of something other than the tools that we use or it will be outdated before it ever catches on! Besides, you don’t call a plumber a “plunger operator,” or a doctor a “stethoscope specialist,” so why do we reduce ourselves to our gadgets? However, we can’t use the example of the deliverable product either as we are often required to deliver older, more established formats. I think we all agree that it is simply a matter of time until our deliverable formats catch up with the data that we use in processing. When that happens we will once again be looking for a new name. This leaves us with the middle road of a name based upon the conceptual design or intent of our industry instead of any of the concrete components. A year ago I would have claimed the goal of our industries to be Technical Documentation. Now I am leaning more toward Asset Virtualization. But really, who wants to be an Asset Virtualizationalist!? I’m sure it sounds particularly charming after one too many drinks. Many great occupations have become verbs. I think that is a nice route, something along the lines of Reality Collector or a Scene Saver. Perhaps a hybrid of terms that represent our converging disciplines. Let’s just try to avoid Tobias Fϋnke’s unfortunate synthesis when he combined his roles as both an analyst and therapist, shall we? (Not an Arrested Development fan? Get the back story here.)

So, any suggestions? As you may have noticed, there is a comment field at the bottom of the post. I can’t wait to hear your ideas.

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