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Editor's Note

August 17, 2000
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Southpaw Surveyors

I would like to start this column with a disclaimer: "Take what follows with a grain of salt." I will be jumping to all sorts of conclusions, none of which would stand up under the scrutiny of the scientific method. Most of my information was gleaned from the Internet (and you know how unreliable that can be!). But this topic was a fun one to tackle and I can't resist sharing my conclusions with POB's readers.

I set out to answer the interesting (but unimportant) question: "Are there a larger ratio of lefties in surveying than in other professions?"

According to the popular science of brain lateralization, right-handed people are dominated by the emotional, language-driven left hemisphere of the brain. Lefties are dominated by the visual-spatial-driven right hemisphere. The stereotypical "right brainer" has a good geometric sense, artistic talent, excels at math and has a good sense of direction. It seemed to me that lefties would be drawn to the fields of surveying and mapping. So, during the month of June, POB Online ran a poll asking our visitors if they were left- or right-handed. The results are in. What did we find out?

Our hypothesis was right! In America and Europe, between 9 and 13 percent of people are left-handed (men are one and a half times more likely to be southpaws than women). Of the visitors to POB Online who answered the poll, approximately 22 percent are lefties-a much larger ratio than you would expect to find in the general public.

So, we can now add surveyors to the other groups that scientists claim have a large percentage of lefties: alcoholics, architects, dyslexics, blondes, criminals, people with eczema and epilepsy, stutterers and lawyers. (Don't blame me-I didn't write the list; I just copied it from this website: http://duke.uasask.ca/~elias/left).

Seriously now¿

There are better uses to the Internet than finding out about southpaws, especially in our industry. Not only can you visit great surveying websites like POB Online-newly revamped-where you can buy cool merchandise at the POB store, you can also (if you want) buy spatial and digital data (TerraPoint), keep track of your time and expense data (Openair.com) and get permits online (Permits.com). You can recruit employees (RedLadder.com) and bid on contracts (BuildPoint.com). You can work with engineers, architects and other contractors on a project through an Extranet provider (buzzsaw.com). Equipment manufacturers and software providers offer demos and technical help online. Many counties and municipalities have land records available online. You can also get USGS quad maps, satellite imagery, etc. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

Consider the Internet to be another business tool and learn how to use it to your advantage. (And if you're looking for a left-handed mouse or pair of scissors, go to www.thelefthand.com.)

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