I spent the tail end of last week at the WI Land Information Association (WLIA) Conference in Steven's Point. It was a map geek conference that happens every year. There were 350 land information professionals in attendance and like most every conference, we talked about our work constantly. We talked over breakfast, in the hall after the sessions, at lunch, at the social events, in the elevators and even on the ride home.
Yes, we're pretty pathetic.
At the same time, I would argue that we're passionate. We love our jobs, that's why we gather every year. We share ideas, talk through problems, argue, critique and laugh. I remember one time my boss's wife went along on a conference with him and by the end of it she said "You guys never stop talking about work, do you?" The answer is nope. Oh sure we catch up on each others' families and such, but after those three minutes are up, we're back to talking about terrestrial scanners, relational databases, Light Detection and Ranging, Digital Elevation Models, Point Clouds, spatial overlays and secured web services.
Throw on top of that a gazillion acronyms like GPS, DEM, DTM LiDAR, SOAP, REST, API, JSP, RAM, RAID, XML, MXD and many more and it kind of makes your head spin.
This past week was a reminder of how important it is to maintain the relationships with these friends and colleagues in the GIS profession. Much like my writing experience of late, you learn from these people, you get better at your craft, you find out you're not alone with your struggles and hopefully you pick up a bunch of tricks along the way as well.
Speaking of cool conferences, there is another couple of them coming up in Madison in a couple of weeks that I hope to make. The first is Canoecopia which is all about canoes and kayaks. There are tons of workshops, speakers and vendors. I fully intend to go and get some ideas on a kayak to purchase at some point.
The other conference is the Blackhawk Pulse which is all about art from a Christian perspective. Two of my favorite Christian artists are going to be there, namely Singer/Songwriter Sara Groves and Author Shauna Niequist. This one is a bit more of a stretch, but as I said, I'll be in Mad-Town anyway, so may be able to make part of it. We'll see.
Making those connections to people who have the same interests is important, be it at conferences, trade shows, expos or other venues. If you're not growing, you're stagnating. (Profound, eh?)