Posts Tagged ‘osmhistory’


Google is not the Enemy

OpenStreetMap is often perceived by outsiders to be Google’s nemesis. Or maybe, with less delusions of grandeur, a competitor. When I explain OpenStreetMap in one paragraph, the phrase “unlike, for example, Google maps” will usually make an appearance. And, maybe in reaction to that, some OpenStreetMappers believe that Google is the enemy.

But is it really?

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The Freedom to Tag

In OSM, we neither have nor want strict rules. We have got where we are now precisely because we did not waste time trying to come up with rules, especially for tagging. There’s anecdotal evidence of competing crowdsourced “geo” projects that spent precious years haggling about the correct ontology to use, while OSM boldly started out with about three types of features (the “class” tag of yore could be one of “highway”, “railway”, or “waterway”).

Not a week goes by without some discussion on a forum or mailing list ending in a lament about the lack of strict tagging rules. Data users hope to be able to find out that the feature they’re looking for will, if it exists, be tagged exactly so and so. Junior mappers want to know how exactly to tag certain objects. Experienced mappers despair at others changing their hard work according to some wiki “vote” that attracted 15 participants out of tens of thousands.

This the first of four big issues that I believe we’ll have to tackle somehow.

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