Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a number of interesting conversations with surveyors and others affiliated with the surveying and mapping profession.

Many of these discussions have revolved around the types of information individuals are seeking-and gleaning-from online forums, user conferences, trade magazine articles, association meetings, and other in-person and Web-based events and resources.

I’ve heard criticisms that some forum posts, conference presentations and articles aren’t broad enough in scope, specific enough in their coverage of challenges and solutions, or accurate enough in their representations. I’ve also heard concerns that individuals who are inexperienced or new to the surveying profession might take information from a single source, such as an offhand RPLS.com forum post, and implement recommended tools and techniques without performing additional research to determine whether the original information was complete and reliable.

These concerns are valid. It is incumbent on everyone who writes an article, gives a presentation or posts to a forum to be accurate and avoid misrepresentation. However, I think many people are missing the point of this shared information. Like all of the sophisticated instruments and software at our disposal, these discussions, presentations and articles are merely tools. They cannot do the job for us. It is up to each individual to understand how-and even whether-various ideas fit into his or her own practice and to do additional research to uncover all of the potential challenges and pitfalls. In today’s age of “instant information,” we expect to have specific answers right at our fingertips anytime we need them. But the reality is that all of the details that are now available-often at lightning speed and in vast quantities, thanks largely to the Internet-can never replace our own common sense and reasoning skills. And if we allow them to do so, then we likely will lose out on the key benefits we might have hoped to gain from assimilating the information and using the technologies and methods in the first place-most notably, a market niche and a competitive edge.

Here at POB, we do our best to make sure that the information we publish in our print issues and present on our Web site is as accurate and complete as possible. While perfection is unattainable, we definitely try to examine everything we publish from all angles and use every resource at our disposal to strive for correctness. Our primary goal is to arm you with the knowledge to succeed in today’s increasingly difficult business environment. But that knowledge is only the beginning. Ultimately, what we’re seeking to provide is a jumping-off point−a collection of ideas to fuel your imagination. As Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

The most successful people I’ve seen in any field are not necessarily the individuals with doctorate degrees or many years of experience. Don’t get me wrong-education, knowledge and experience are all incredibly valuable. But it’s the people who never stop questioning and never stop learning who have the most potential to adapt to difficult situations and expand their opportunities. Conversely, those who believe they “have arrived” or who are willing to take any piece of information at face value limit their capacity to achieve true success.

I have always viewed the year’s end as a valuable time for reflection, for learning from the past and seeking insights that will guide my steps in the future. But what I find myself looking for the most this year is simply inspiration-the ability to look beyond what is and to envision what might be. My hope is that you will find such inspiration in POB’s articles, Webinars, blogs, RPLS.com forum and other resources in the year ahead. On behalf of everyone at POB, I wish you a peaceful, joyful and inspirational holiday season.

To contact the editor, send an e-mail topobeditor@bnpmedia.