I remember first hearing this phrase around the time I learned about O’Reilly’s Where 2.0 Conference in 2005. ESRI is even using a similar theme for the 2012 User Conference this year. I’m not sure who the credit goes to for coining this phrase, but I know its been around awhile. I also know that I use this phrase too often, so I decided to throw a cautionary post on here to try and excuse myself.
This open ended phrase implies that there is a power that comes with knowing ‘where.’ Where can apply to anything, such as zip codes, customers, keys, or money. Likewise, power can apply to anything, such as knowledge, decisions, actions, or perceptions.
I typically spend my days wielding the power of where as though my livelihood depends on it. I enjoy answering any and all ‘where’ questions my coworkers and constituents can throw at me. It helps that they place a high value on that information and make me feel like a superstar with all the answers. And trust me, in my current organization that manages thousands of miles and millions of dollars worth of underground assets, there are no shortage of ‘where’ questions to be asked.
I remember the first time I visited the east coast. I took a red-eye into Baltimore and had to follow printed directions to my destination. Tall trees lined every road and there were no mountains in the background that I am accustomed to use for orienting my direction. Thankfully my rental car had a digital compass readout in the rear-view mirror or I would never had known how to turn north or head east to reach my destination. I was lacking the context I needed to calibrate my heading. I am the type of person who can’t stand the feeling that I might be missing something interesting just through the trees or over the hill. I will often create a Google Earth (GE) cache on my netbook with GPS when I travel so that I can enjoy the context provided by the aerial photography (and other GE layers) as I drive through new and unfamiliar surroundings.
There is an empowerment that comes with knowing my relationship with my surroundings. For me that empowerment is the feeling that I haven’t missed anything that I don’t want to miss.