Programming GIS Users

When I first started blogging I thought I’d write only about how a GIS developer might go about programming applications. But in reading recent blog posts, I realized I’m missing half the story. So, here are some thoughts on how GIS developers get programmed.

As discussions between adherents of different programming packages and methodologies become heated, I find it helpful to look at several things: Nostalgia, the Stanislavski Method of Physical Action, and the Stockholm Syndrome.


This word was originally intended to describe what we now refer to as “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder“. I’ve seen many a user succumb to this when a sofware package they know & love gets replaced by something “better”. When Arc8.0 came out many programmers became nostalgic in the original sense of the word. I still occasionally hear people wish for the return of AML … but lately this has been nostalgia in the modern sense of the word.

Stanislavski Method of Physical Action

This method of acting involves going through a lot of repetitive physical action in rehearsal to get inside of an emotion. I wonder though, when people repeat the same series of physical keystrokes/mouseclicks over & over if somehow there’s a common emotional state at which they arrive?

Stockholm Syndrome

Sometimes, at first, using new software can make me angry. In looking back, the hardest to learn software has often turned out to have the most lasting impact. I haven’t used vi in years. It was hard for me to learn, yet I remember it, and wish I could use those keystrokes in editors today. I’d like to think these fond memories are based on sheer utility, but I suspect there’s something else going on, perhaps as a hostage I’ve become loyal to my captor?

We’ve all heard the jokes about “drinking the koolaid” of a particular software vendor. Seriously though, maybe we should think about what sort of vulnerabilities to mass hysteria evolution has wired into our genes as we seek recognition from our group’s alpha male.

In sum: not only do we program software – software programs us. We need to be conscious of this.

2 comments so far

  1. shane on

    Hey- aren’t you mixing stockholm wth nostalgia in your vi example? Man, I hope I never have to succumb to the mercy of coding. Where’s Neo when you need him?

  2. Administrator on

    Yeah, I forgot to mention I felt like I was being taken hostage when I first tried learning vi. Even if you don’t code you are still being subjected to being programmed.

    Take for example this recent release which shows how I think people have been programmed to view the world as separable layers. Indeed holism and layers seems like an oxymoron. Phenomena that cut across multiple layers becomes difficult to understand.

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