In the 1980s and ’90s,POB featured a section called “Surveyors Speak Out,” which asked readers to answer a survey question with yes or no as well as offer anonymous comments on their reasoning. This section offers interesting insight into the profession and community as it stood decades ago as well as comparisons with surveyors today.

In June 1980, surveyors were asked whether continuing education courses should be a prerequisite for renewal of registration as a land surveyor. While most replied “yes,” a significant number answered “no.”

The most interesting divide seems to be generational. Even in 1980, young surveyors happy to use the latest technology lamented their aging counterparts’ outdated methods and sought to require continuing education courses to keep them current. Those in the “no” camp appeared to be set in their ways and disagreed that any classes would benefit their work.

In favor of continuing education in 1980:

“I am 26 and I work with a few “old school surveyors” who scream bloody murder when I suggest the use of a programmable calculator or computer. A few short courses explaining their usefulness would certainly cut the computation time by 50 percent.”

“This would drag many of the ‘doddering fools and Neanderthals’ kicking and screaming into the 21st century.”

“The profession is changing too fast to not require continuing education.”

“Too many surveyors are using yesterday’s methods for today’s problems.”

“Right now, in my community, is an elderly surveyor registered under the grandfather clause who continues to run compass boundary surveys. His method of error computation consists of how closely his maps plot and the only ties he has are the ones he wears to church on Sunday. The sad part is that he thinks he is performing ‘state of the art’ surveys.”

“For the serious professional, continuing education is a way of life.”

“Our profession is heavily influenced by the massive technological advances which were a spinoff of the 1960s space program and by some awesome changes in liability and business management programs. Few of us take the time to seek out the updated information we need. Locally produced seminars are an easy way out, but seldom cover the material in sufficient detail.”

Against continuing education in 1980:

“My performance as a land surveyor will judge my competence. I have no intention of becoming a perpetual school boy just to guarantee the teaching profession a living.”

“No. Emphatically! Sounds like a really great idea for a few unemployed professors. Incidentally, I do attend all I can, voluntarily.”

“There are many men who have proven their worth as good surveyors for many years. They can still turn out a good reliable survey and are entitled to the dignity of their accomplishments. Who would take away their license to survey simply because they do not own a 3842A OR A 3820A? Why not live and let live.”

“To do so would put the rural surveyor at a great disadvantage.”

“Those so-called continuing education courses are usually arranged and conducted by some lame-brained idiot who doesn’t have a lick of common sense or practical experience and has come up with yet another way to rip off the hard-working surveyor, either by selling him on some new idea or equipment that he neither needs nor will it help him any more than the old proverbial billy goat needs a windshield wiper.”

“Definitely not! Experience is still the best teacher. New publications and equipment do not make the surveyor as competent as some white-collar surveyors and professors would have the public believe.”

“This is totally unacceptable. I’ve got more important things to do.”

In April 1984, readers were asked whether their spouse is involved in their surveying business, with 57 percent answering “yes” and 43 percent saying no.

Some highlights among the responses:

“Who else would take the verbal abuse, supposed to be able to answer all the clients’ questions, pick up the phone every time it rings, and be at home when needed?”

"Yes. Help!”

“No way! I have a hard enough time at home at night without her around me all day at work. With a second marriage, one learns a lot.”

"Fools rush in where wise men never go. I’m not married.”

In August 1984, the magazine asked, “Is it necessary to be registered to properly perform the following jobs: party chief/crew chief, computation technician, instrument person and draftsperson?” An overwhelming majority replied “no” for each job title. The only job with more than a dozen “yes” votes was party chief/crew chief.

“Party and Crew Chiefs should be RLS’s. Too many so-called PLS’s are getting like lawyers. They handle papers, stamp maps and never set foot on the land they are supposed to have surveyed.”

“I dislike registration of any kind. The free market will eliminate incompetence or sloppiness much more quickly and efficiently than any board or government body.”

“A person’s individual abilities should determine his job position, not a certificate stating that he is registered.”

“It is NOT necessary to be registered to properly perform any job. Registration is a coercive monopoly sold by government to special interests for the special interests’ and government’s economic well-being, NOT for the public’s benefit.”

“There should be a registered surveyor in charge of the project, but with all of the new ‘high technology,’ any flunky can do the work.”

POB 40th Anniversary: A Look Back

The magazine’s contributors have offered invaluable insight and commentary over the years. As POB is in the midst of its 40th year, we decided to ask a few of our longtime contributors to share their thoughts on working with the magazine over the years.

The magazine’s contributors have offered invaluable insight and commentary over the years. As POB is in the midst of its 40th year, we decided to ask a few of our longtime contributors to share their thoughts on working with the magazine over the years.

“40 years! I remember Ed Miller’s photo interviews in those early days. My career was just starting, and so was POB’s. The last 10 years of my professional life have been spent in closer association with POB in a variety of writing roles. It has been a pleasure to work with a magazine that has not sought to modify my views, only my frequent examples of sophomoric writing!

POB has matured over the years, increasing the scope of its coverage in many ways including supplementing stories and coverage in its printed pages with substantial online content. Today, geomatics is much better accepted, and POB recognizes a place for surveying and geomatics in the geospatial framework that has become such an important context for how the world moves forward. There is some progression in understanding of how the surveyor’s role and importance in society is exceedingly important, but in my opinion, not enough. I worry that the profession that we have spent so much energy on over the last 40 years is not up to the task of reforming and reinventing itself to stay relevant and well understood today. As an example, technology has advanced; so have the many activities that are rightfully within the realm of surveying. But the traditionalist movement in the profession still holds the promise of the future at a distance as it constantly looks back. Only the future will tell…”

Joseph V.R. Paiva, PhD, Principal at Geo-Learn (, has been long been a friend and contributor to POB.

“When I joined the staff of ACSM in 1982, one of the first people to welcome me to the surveying community was POB founder, editor and publisher Ed Miller. We became immediate friends. While the business of POB was to be an advertising vehicle for equipment suppliers, the editorial mission was to be a cheerleader for the profession and a voice for raising the status of surveyors. Ed was a strong proponent of the government affairs program I was hired to manage, and he encouraged the use of POB as a means of giving exposure to the political and legislative issues affecting surveyors, and communicating the actions ACSM was taking on their behalf. Ed was also an active participant in ACSM, and was one of the key volunteers who helped me conduct a landmark public relations project in the mid-1980s. When I left ACSM in 1987 and started John M. Palatiello & Associates, POB was among my first clients. Since BNP Media purchased POB from Ed, they have consistently continued that historic support for the profession, and its national associations. Through the years, I have been personally grateful to POB for our partnership and its role as a mouthpiece for thoughtful discourse on the surveying profession. Congratulations on 40 great years.”

John Palatiello, President, John M. Palatiello & Associates, Inc. and executive director of the Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS), has been a contributor the magazine since the 1980s.

“This year marks the 40th anniversary of POB Magazine. It just so happens that in June of this year I marked my 10th anniversary as a regular columnist for the magazine. I’m waiting for the gold watch. Sadly, I don’t think it’s coming. Be that as it may, I am proud of my association with POB and the platform the publication has given me to discuss the legal aspects of land surveying and related issues facing the profession.”

Columnist and resident boundary law expert Jeff Lucas also shares his thoughts at the beginning of this month’s column on page 25.

“The best part of being a frequent contributor to POB and for the past two years has been the opportunity to interview many highly knowledgeable people about emerging geospatial technology and innovative products and services. When I request an interview to write an article for POB or, nearly everyone says yes, not only because it’s an effective way to communicate with our growing community, but because people are excited to tell me about what they are doing. As geospatial technology continues to evolve, I envision a never-ending supply of great topics that will have relevance and value to our readers.”

Linda Duffy, Apropos Research, is a freelance author for both POB and GeoDataPoint.

“I recently came to realize that my ‘spirited discussions’ with my editors at POB should be viewed in a positive light. We all share the desire to provide accurate information to the reader and we work together to make language clear and comprehensible, even where the subject matter is complex. Rest assured that POB staff works to make sure that the contributors to this magazine speak with their own voices. I’m grateful to Point of Beginning for the opportunity to contribute.”

Kristopher M. Kline, P.L.S., 2Point, Inc., is a columnist for POB.