The value of data (even the historical stuff)
Our friends at the Oklahoma County Assessor entered ESRI's GIS in Action video contest. The folks at OK County Assessor are one of our customers that I most admire. They're passionate about what they do, they've got their priorities straight, and they get things done.
Their video reminds me of working with historic map data from where I live. Back in 1998 I was at a map library and found a stack of aerial photos of Victoria from 1928. I got permission to scan them and did some rough georeferencing of them using a recent Victoria ortho. It was absolutely fascinating to see how much Victoria had changed in seventy years. In fact, comparing the landscape between 1928 and 1998 profoundly changed the way I think about growth (especially in our region).
When ArcIMS was released a couple years later, I couldn't get permission from the copyright holder (a government agency) to make them available over the web through an ArcIMS service (on a volunteer basis no less). I guess someone got worried about the massive opportunity cost associated with losing out on licensing revenue associated with sepia aerial photos from 1928. Not that they had any model for licensing them even if someone did want them. I love my country, but our misguided geodata policies have impaired decision-making in the places we live. Things are slowly improving, but we need to be aggressive in changing the geospatial data status quo in cases where it is quietly failing us.