I like focusing blog posts around a question. In this one we will spend a little time discussing case studies.
So what is a case study?
A formal definition:
A particular instance of something used or analyzed in order to illustrate a thesis or principle.
In the world of GIS I read that as how I tackled a problem. My experience.
What is the goal of a case study?
To share my experience. To have others learn from what I learned.
What is a case study not?
Purely a success story.
Let’s explore this in a little more depth.
Are GIS Case Studies Worthless?
The blog post which contained the word failure!
By what margin in terms of readership? 5 to 1. Now that is significant.
So why might that word failure grab readers interest. Honesty that’s why. Now don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with success stories. But too often the warts and challenges of trying to use GIS to solve problems are hidden behind a glowing ‘success’ veneer. And yes sometimes we do fail. Sharing the why’s and wherefores of failures is just as valuable as success (some would argue moreso).
I’ve noticed a stigma, particularly within corporation, around sharing both success and failure in case studies. Failure (maybe think significant barriers) is perceived as some kind of weakness. We learn much from both ours (and others) successes and challenges.
Author: Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan is a Principal at WebMapSolutions. Matt evangelizes GIS and location intelligence around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books. Follow him on Twitter: