25
Mar

Losing Good People

In my work for the OSMF Data Working Group, I often have to mediate in conflicts between mappers. I’m not a trained psychologist, and sometimes it feels like it would be good to have one to deal with these kinds of situations. The process often leads to unsatisfactory results. Let me sketch a typical interaction.
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12
Dec

1,000 Addresses

You’ve all heard them, the countless laments about how OSM was direly lacking one thing above everything else: addresses. To anyone who complains that OSM was “useless” for something, my standard response is: Then don’t use it – there’s more than enough things for which OSM is tremendously useful, and if our mappers think they’d like to have more addresses then they will surely come.

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31
Oct

Anti Business

I recently found myself confronted with the sentiment that, as far as OSM or the OSMF are concerend, I had an “anti business” attitude. That’s a funny allegation about someone who was among the first people on this planet to run a business based on making OSM data available commercially, or training commercial entities how to work with OSM.

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5
Oct

Transparency and Confidentiality

I’ve been elected to the OSMF board, and within the board been appointed to the position of “secretary”. My first board meeting (telephone conference) and a couple email exchanges on the board mailing list have come and gone and my impression that many things need changing has hardened.

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23
Aug

OSMF Board Elections 2012

It has been pointed out to me that writing a blog article once a month about what I think OSMF should do (or not do) is not sportsmanlike. I’m drawing the consequences and standing for election to the OSMF board of directors. I’ve drawn up a manifesto and published it on the OSM wiki. It’s a bit lengthy but if you are reading this blog post then you are used to lengthy treatises anyway. If you like what I say, I would feel honoured if you voted for me. (And if you’re not yet a member of OSMF and still want to vote me in, here’s how to join OSMF – I’d say that £15 is a bargain for the chance to tell your grandchildren that you were one of those… err, what is this “hubris” of which you speak?)

11
Aug

About Leadership

In the course of the license change, a process that is now thankfully nearing completion, some have portrayed the OSMF board as a power hungry and self-absorbed club trying to exert control over OSM.

I think this is exaggerated. But it is an interesting opportunity to discuss who should be running OSM(F), and how.
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1
Jun

OpenBuildingMap

In my Geofabrik work, I often process OSM data for clients in one way or the other. One thing we do is sell a standardised shape file export where we select the most common OSM features and sort them into a couple of thematic layers. We used to export the buildings as well – it wasn’t a lot of extra effort and some clients had use for it. But soon we’ll have to stop doing that, and instead provide the buildings only if someone explicitly asks for them.

The reason is that the amount of building data in OSM is exploding, mainly due to building imports.

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25
Apr

What we can learn from Wikipedia

The similarities between OpenStreetMap and Wikpedia are obvious: “We are the Wikpedia of maps!” – in fact they are so obvious that they hide some important differences. And it isn’t only that Wikimedia have US$ 30 million in cash and we don’t. I’ll try to explain how things work over at our elder sibling, and draw some ideas for OSM from that.

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3
Apr

What is this “Usability”, anyway?

Once again, OpenStreetMap usability is all the rage. Or rather, its lack thereof. Development Seed, a US-based software development and consulting firm, have applied for a $500k grant to help them, among other things, make OpenStreetMap editing easier. This, and also some minor web design contributions from Development Seed employees that we’ve had in the run-up to their application, has prompted discussion – on twitter, on the blogs, and elsewhere – about how bad the “OSM UX” (for user experience) really is and what needs to be improved.

Of course, this is not new.

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9
Mar

An Interview With Joachim

I have conducted the following little Interview with Joachim Kast, who deals with government contacts for OSM Germany, and translated it into English. I think that the work Joachim does is a prime example of the “just do it” spirit that has got OSM to where we are today.

FR: Joachim, you’re in charge of government relations for OpenStreetMap in Germany. How does one get a job like that?
JK: That was a coincidence really. In the summer of 2010 I read a newspaper article about how our government was contemplating to regulate geodata services because of citizens protesting against Google Street View. Before they decided anything though, they wanted to hold a “geodata summit” where all affected parties would be heard. I feared that the outcome might harm OSM, and wrote to the minister in charge asking for an invitation. This landed me at one table with government ministers, members of parliament, data protection officials, and board members of large corporations like Google, Microsoft, and Deutsche Telekom. This led to a number of good contacts with government officials. Other mappers liked the fact that we were now talking, and asked me to continue.

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