My brother recently bought a novelty clock that looks like a can of Coca-Cola with a dial and clock hands where the logo usually appears. I know nothing about clocks, and I have no idea how much he paid for this thing. But it took me less than 30 seconds to see that it was junk.

“How can that be?” you ask. It was easy-the box told me. No, it didn’t have a label saying this product is junk. But it might as well have had one. Here is what it did say. (Any mistakes you see are not mine; it really does say this on the box.)

Use Explain:
(1) Install battery:please open the
back cover, identify the sign
place the battery in the battery
box, the clock will working,
if not the clock can not work.
(2) Cheke time/:please revolution
the left button until standar time.
working precision in the
electrical source1.3v-1.5v,
month difference ± 30 secon.

1.Please don’t place it in following place.
a) nearby strong viration.
b) in the dusty play.
2.Please do not touch it movement.
3.Please don’t clean it case by using
paint thinner or other chemical materials.
Neuter soap or cleanser as cleaning liquid
Is recommendable.
4.Please change the battrey once a year.
exhausted battery may leak and damage
your product.

The clock makers are sending a pretty clear message: They didn’t have the time or money to have anyone check the translation or spelling. While I don’t make any claim to being a good speller, even I recognize that if you spell a word (such as battery) two different ways on the box, there is a really good chance one of them is wrong.

How does any of this relate to surveying? Our clients are just like me when it comes to judging the quality of this clock. Most of them don’t know anything about surveying. They don’t have the background and skill necessary to judge the product (our product) on things that matter. Most will be lost if we discuss the strength of the control network, and few will have even the vaguest notion of what we mean if we discuss positional tolerance. Not many will understand the intricacies of the proper research that has to precede boundary work. Instead, our clients judge our work by what some consider to be “less important details,” such as:
  • maps that look good as well as convey the proper information
  • professional-looking reports
  • clear communication
  • how we speak in public
Yet, just like the maker of the clock paid little or no attention to the information it printed on the box, too many surveyors pay too little attention to the details by which we are judged.

Quality survey work matters. But theappearanceof quality is equally important. No matter how good our work, if the presentation of that work is poor, we will be judged as having done poor work.


What do you think? Does the surveying profession need to polish its image? Please share your comments below.