Monthly Archives: November 2009

State of the Map 2007 Videos – in HD!

I wonder whether everyone missed the donations link last time, so I’ll put it first instead! Go on, drop a pound in the collections tin.

When Jon Burgess found out that I was editing the 2008 videos, he dug out his recordings of the first SOTM conference and sent me a disk full of them. This time I knew what I was doing a bit more, and the quality is much improved – in fact, if you have the bandwidth and computer for it, you can also watch them in full HD glory.

Unfortunately Jon didn’t have enough space to record all the talks, but we have 15 available on vimeo. For a full list of talks and links see the OpenStreetMap wiki, or just have a look at my video account and watch them all!

My pick of the bunch are:

It’s great watching these videos – I wasn’t even “into” OSM enough back then to go the conference! And it’s nice to see the things that are wildly different now, and all the things that are still familiar topics.

The Pottery Club

A closeup of a pottery vase in the process of being madeImagine, if you will, a small town with a surprisingly active pottery club. Every week they gather in the local arts centre, and spend long evenings making pottery together. They take lumps of clay and sculpt them into vases, mugs, bowls, teapots and all kinds of things. They share tips and tricks, and help each other out – some people just do their own thing, but there’s a real sense of community. It’s not surprising to find them taking a break together in the local pub, where they spend a lot of time talking about their hobby. The pottery they produce is really high-quality stuff too – a labour purely of love and fascination, not driven by cost/benefit ratios, deadlines or schedules.

Now these people are so interested in their pottery hobby that they happily make far more of it than they need, and so they give away much of the end results – after all, it’s a hobby and they have already got all the teapots they need (and maybe they have a bottomless pit of clay nearby or something that makes this analogy more plausible). And other people appreciate all the free pottery, and wonder what they can do to help. These outsiders come with fairly pure intent – they want everyone in the whole world to benefit from these high quality teapots and vases.

And so the outsiders think about how they can improve this pottery club. They come up with the idea of helping by shipping in partly-made vases and teapots, and letting the club just “finish them off”. After all, it’ll save time and be easier for everyone involved, and gets everyone towards having those next 10,000 vases that much quicker than just waiting for the club to do so in their own time and expand at their own rate. So truckloads of distorted, broken, low-quality, half-finished wet pottery starts arriving at the back door to the club. Some people start taking this pottery and trying to fix it, and a few people in the club think that it’s a great idea. But a lot of people start getting disillusioned. They realise that fixing other people’s mess just isn’t as fun as starting from scratch and making a proper job of it themselves. The banter in the club stops, and it turns into a factory line – no sooner are they finished fixing up one batch of bodged-up pottery than another arrives. More outsiders are scouting around for sources of low quality pottery – after all, if you give it to this Club then they will fix it. But the output quality starts falling as “good enough” pottery is given away, where before they would have bandied together to keep their high standards. People start enjoying the whole thing less, they start drifting away, and the club slowly falls apart. Takings also fall at the pub.

Enough of the story telling. This article is in the “OpenStreetMap” category because I want people to think of this parable when they are considering bulk imports. The strength of OSM is the community. The creation of this dedicated community is a high-quality map. There are ways to help the community, and there is usefulness in using other data sources to assist. But if we continue down the path of treating the community as a mechanism to “fix-up” broken or low-quality data imports, whether that be TIGER, GNIS, NaPTAN or any of the others, then we’ll ruin ourselves in doing so.

State of the Map 2008 videos online (at last!)

I’m sure we’ve all got videos that we mean to edit, or photos we mean to upload, but we never really get round to it. OpenStreetMap has been in a similar position for the last few years regarding videos of its annual conference – the “State of the Map” – which have languished in dark corners. Earlier on in the year I set about tracking down the footage from SOTM08 in Limerick, to see if I could help out. We got hold of the raw footage, and I slowly worked my way through figuring out which clip was which, editing out the inevitable inter-speech faffing, fiddling with the sound and lighting levels and encoding the whole thing. As if that wasn’t enough, uploading them has taken the best part of the last 10 weeks, but it’s all done! Every speech from the main room is now available online, for everyone who was there and wants to reminisce, for those who couldn’t make it to Ireland, and for the 78% of OSMers who have joined up since!

You can find a list of all the talks and links to the videos on the OpenStreetMap wiki: State of the Map 2008

There’s some classic OpenStreetMap history in their, from everything Hiroshi says (sadly with some audio problems in one clip) to Gervase’s now infamous OSM Fieldwork project. Got any favourites yourself? That’s what the comments are for, below.

The observant amongst you will have noticed I haven’t mentioned SOTM07 in Manchester yet, although I’ve been tarting up the wiki page in anticipation of… something… Unfortunately not all of the first conference was actually filmed, but the corollary is suggestive… If you want to help out with my costs for this effort, or simply to show your appreciation, here’s a donations link. If you don’t want to donate, a “thank you” in the comments is a perfect alternative!