Have you ever come across the Occam’s Razor problem-solving principle?
William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), who was an English Franciscan friar, scholastic philosopher, and theologian. His principal stated that ‘simpler theories are preferable to more complex ones because they are more testable’. In other words strip out complexity and lean towards simplicity.
What has GIS to do with Occam’s Razor?
So what indeed has GIS to do with Occam’s Razor? Currently I would argue very little. For those working in GIS, think how you might answer these questions:
- Are you actually eliminating complexity, or just pretending it isn’t there?
- If i don’t understand what you are talking about how can you expect those with little knowledge of GIS to understand?
- Are you stripping customer problems down into their most basic form?
- Are you proposing elegant, simple, intuitive, focused solutions?
- Are you designing applications based on actual user needs and workflows, or hoping generic solutions ‘might work’?
- What is simple to you is likely not simple to your clients, are you working closely with end users: understanding, guiding, mentoring, educating on an ongoing basis?
GIS solution providers need move more towards simple, elegant and focused. GIS is complex, our job is to demonstrate the business value of maps and GIS through simple solutions which solve actual customer problems. Throwing customers a ‘bag of tools for them to figure it out on their own’ will just not cut it.
Many of the current challenges within the GIS industry could be solved by applying Occam’s Razor problem-solving principle.
What do you think?