Some GIS users and organizations work entirely with proprietary tools, some work entirely with open source tools and some work with both. Why is that? Is the answer simple or is it complex? And what can it tell us about the potential for the GIS community to reap the benefits of one domain or the other or both? Is this worthy of discussion? If not, then this could be a fairly quiet session. It’s likely though that it will be otherwise and we will have the grounds for a vibrant and constructive conversation.
The organizers have strong backgrounds with proprietary GIS and, for various reasons, also see the benefits of exploring and employing open source options. They’ll relate their goals and experiences and reflect on what they’ve found so far, supported by their observations from various sources, including individual conversations, local user group meetings and international conferences. In the third part of the session, audience participation will be encouraged to explore the personal, institutional and cultural characteristics that tend to lead individuals or organizations to favor open source or proprietary GIS offerings. For example, what do the terms "open source GIS person" and "proprietary GIS person" imply and how can the answers be helpful? There are many potential benefits to a conversation of this nature, including helping people assess the value of pursuing a particular technology direction. As always with this kind of activity, the aim is to foster mutually beneficial interactions and help GIS professionals help each other as best they can.