An Interview with Hussein Nassersnehals
What initially drew you to write your book for Packt Publishing?
In 2009, I started writing technical articles on my personal blog. I would write about my field, Geographic Information Systems, or any other technical articles. Whenever a new technology emerged, a new product,or sometimes even mere tips or tricks,I would write an article about it. My blog became a well-known site in GIS, and that is when Packt approached me with a proposed title. I always wanted to write a book but I never expected that the opportunity would knock on my door. I thank Packt for giving me that opportunity.
When you began writing, what were your main aims?
My main aim was to write a book that readers in my domain could grab and benefit from. While working on a chapter, I would always imagine a reader picking up the book and reading that particular chapter and asked myself, what could I do better? And then I tried to make the chapter as simple as possible and leave nothing unexplained.
What did you enjoy most and what was most rewarding about the experience of writing?
Think about all the knowledge, information, ideas, and tips that you possess. You knew you had it in you somewhere but you didn’t know the joy and delight you would feel when this knowledge slipped through your fingertips into a physical medium. With each reading I would reread and polish the chapters;it seems there is always room for improvement in writing.
Why, in your opinion, is ArcGIS exciting to discover, read, and write about?
ArcGIS is not a new technology; it has been around for more than 14 years. It has become mature and polished during these years. It has expanded and started touching other bleeding-edge technologies like mobile, web, and the cloud. Everyday this technology is increasingly worth discovering and everyday it benefits areas like health, utilities, transportation, and so on.
Why do you think interest in GIS is on the rise?
If you read The Tipping Point,by Malcolm T. Gladwell, you will understand that the smartphone was actually a tipping point for the GIS technology. GIS was only used by enterprises and big companies who wanted to add the location dimension to their tabular data so it helped them better visualize and analyze their information. With smartphones and GPS, geographic location became more relevant. Pictures taken with smartphones are tagged with location information. Applications were developed to harness the power of GIS for routing, finding the best restaurants in an area, calculating shortest routes, finding information based on geo-fencing technology that sends you text messages when you pass by a shop, and so on. The popularity of GIS is rising and so is the interest in adapting this technology.
What do you see on the horizon for GIS?
High end processing servers are being sent to the cloud while we are carrying smaller and smaller gadgets. Networking is getting stronger every day with the LTE and 4G networks already setup in many countries. Storage has become no issue at all. The Web architecture is dominant so far and it is the most open and compatible platform that has ever existed. As long as we keep using devices, we will need geographic information systems. The data can be consumed and fetched swiftly from anywhere in the world from the smallest device. I believe this will evolve to an extent that everything valuable we own can be tagged with a location, so when we misplace something or lose it, we can always use GIS to locate it.
Any tips for new authors?
My role model author is Seth Godin; the first book I ever read was his. When I told him about my new book and asked him for any advice he might give me as a new author, he told me and I quote,″Congratulations, Hussein .This is thrilling to hear; my only advice is to keep writing!″
I took his advice and now I′m working on my second book with Packt.
Another personal tip I can give to new authors is thatwriting needs focus, and I find music the best soul feeding source. While working on my first book,I discovered this site www.stereomood.com, which plays music that will help you write. Another thing is to use a clutter free word processor application that will blank the entire screen so you are only left with your words. I use WriteMonkey for Windows and Focus writer for Mac.