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Brain Off » Returned from India :: Mikel Maron :: Building Digital Technology for Our Planet

Returned from India

..and life here didn’t stop while I was away. Had a great stay in India and I’m looking forward to processing and creating some internet transmittables .. maps of course! Right now, just catching up with life..

Planning Alerts is a finalist in the New Statesman New Media Awards in the Information & Openness category! We find out if we won July 24. Favorites like Neighbourhood Fix It, elgg, and LiveBus (James Whaere) are among the finalists too!

OpenStreetMap kicked off a bit these couple weeks. AND donated all of the Netherlands and the (VMAP0 derived) China and India road networks (I have some detail to fill in there!). Again OSM is propelled to another level .. with an entire country (to be) uploaded, the technical and social problems of OSM start to shift .. how to manage change once an area is nearly complete? The wiki and social networking angles ascend; the need is to visualize and track change (geographic diff), rollbacks; the tools need to simplify even further, so newcomers to OSM can do something, even if it’s just to alert someone else to make a change; and with a widening user base, trust and reputation becomes very important to help scale. And it signals that the real transformation of the geodata industry is happening, and OpenStreetMap is at the center of that.

I also just reported that Yahoo! will now allow their API used in JOSM. This saga has had extreme ups and downs, and I’m glad to see a sweet resolution. Like the AND data and mappam, Yahoo has brought up lots of existential issues for OSM, particularly with how “OSM” interacts with external entities. Etienne gives a most coherent, developing view on how the OSM community and foundation function.

It is important to understand that the OpenStreetMap Foundation is *not* the same thing as the OpenStreetMap project. The Foundation does not own the OpenStreetMap data, is not the copyright holder and has no desire to own the data. Anyone can setup a few servers and host the OSM data using the same or different software. In this respect the Foundation is an organisation that performs fundraising in order to provides servers to host the project. It’s role is to support the project not to control it.

Something which I think needs further definition is how any individual or group is empowered to work for and on behalf of OpenStreetMap. Discussions for AND, for Yahoo, for funding in the Netherlands and other governments, sponsorship for State of the Map and mapping parties, and many other past, and yes future, collaborations and partnerships, by necessity can’t take place completely openly in the beginnging. This does apparently conflict with principles of openness .. but importantly, the ability to push forward external interactions is open to anyone. And I think some guiding principles or statement might be necessary here, and the coming anniversary of the Foundation might be a good time for this.

The Legal Panel at State of the Map may cover some of this ground, and I’m sure promises to have all the fireworks of talk-osm in real life! I’m heading up to Manchester tomorrow morning, and working today on my presentation “OpenStreetMap: A Disaster Waiting to Happen”, on an OpenStreetMap approach to disaster response.

And there’s other things I can’t talk about yet, but soon, with Mapufacture, and another still secret mapping project. More to come..

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