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Joe Morrison

Originally published in February’s edition of my monthly newsletterAnything you read here gets sent there first. To get articles like this in your inbox once a month, sign up here.

A lot of folks don’t realize that Elon Musk got his first big break as an entrepreneur building mapping software…

(This piece was originally published on my newsletter, A Closer Look with Joe Morrison on January 15, 2021. I post everything I write there first.)

TL;DR I’m starting a new job at a satellite startup this month. …

This post was originally published on my monthly email newsletter, A Closer Look with Joe Morrison and subsequently discussed at length on Hacker News. …

If you like this post, please consider subscribing to my email newsletter, “A Closer Look.” Once a month I share a new analysis (like this one!) related to the modern business and technology of mapping. Anything you read here goes out on the newsletter first.

Esri CEO, Jack Dangermond, at the Altar of Arc. Source.

Five decades ago, Jack Dangermond…

Become one of the first Lookers™ here:

The last month has been pretty wild. In the last 30 days, 145K people have been kind enough to visit my blog posts. Many have reached out privately with feedback, rebuttals, words of encouragement, and there have even been a few pleas to curse less. …

Eulogy for a simpler time

I work at Azavea, but this is my personal blog. What’s written here is my personal opinion and nothing more. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Spooky. Photo by Wendy Scofield on Unsplash

The news yesterday that the new version of Mapbox GL JS will be proprietary shook me.¹

I am not a zealot. I do not feel entitled to…

The Billion Dollar Dataset Next Door

Special thanks to Jennings Anderson who looked over an early draft of this post and helped me refine it. Also, as usual, the views expressed herein do not represent those of my parents, my wife, my dentist, or my employer.

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

The first time I spoke with Jennings Anderson, I couldn’t…

Build something else. Anything else.

Disclaimer: This is purely my personal opinion and does not reflect the stance of my employer, Azavea. It’s not very “Azavean” to write negatively about a topic — but I think this is worth saying publicly since I can’t seem to shut up about it privately!

“Looks good on a whiteboard.” Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

A Word of Warning

Anything worth doing will…

On the Climate Emergency and the Role of Geospatial Technology

Photo by Lucy Chian on Unsplash

I believe we are on the cusp of a second golden age of geography. During the first wave, we were on offense. Cartographers during the Renaissance held the keys to unlocking unprecedented understanding about the scope and nature of the world.

But the “second coming of geospatial” that we’re about…

The text below is adapted from an email I sent to an up-and-coming satellite imagery provider. Some details have been omitted or adapted in order to preserve their anonymity. I hope the advice is generally useful to others in their position.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash


  1. Release a small percentage of your data under a…

Joe Morrison

Comedic relief at Umbra. Writing about maps and the people that make them. For inquiries: jrmorrison.jrm [at] gmail [dot] com

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