Kerala to Bangalore

We’re right in the groove of the workshops now. The presentation and technology and outlook are getting inline. We’ll have perfected the delivery of the FreeMap workshop by the end of the month — just in time to go home.

The second day in Kerala was smooth from the technology point of view, great relief, and generally people just jumped right in and started studying the OSM wiki and playing with the tools. We kept it loose, doing demos throughout the day and diving into topics when there was interest. This started with more advanced JOSM editing techniques, converting OSM into GML and then Shapefile for use in QGIS and ESRI, using osmarender and Inkscape to make a printable PDF, and photomapping with JOSM. It was particularly important to get OSM data into other forms — many of the applications developed in Kerala are agricultural (monitoring rainfall, collecting and disseminating data to forms, calculating land use) and make use of GIS or other systems. Export is one of the tasks we designed for IndicTrans back in Pune, and it’s needed.

The participants seemed happy with the two days. One even made a speech at the end! There was a third day too focusing on the applications developed at IIITMK, and everyone received certificates at the end. We feel it was a success, a great amount of progress was made, with a group of very wide technical backgrounds, even if there wasn’t too much progress on the map itself. And though we sometimes wonder if the conditions are right to take this forward, if the open source ethos and personal initiative and bottom up approaches can really take root here .. I’m optimistic. It starts with a few pioneers anywhere. In spots, people are already mapping on their own independent of the workshops — H.S.Rai in Ludhiana, who we’ve made new arrangements to meet due to his heavy involvement and someone random in Coimbatore, discovered by wireless hacker Rene on his motorcycle ride, halfway between Kerala and Bangalore.

The past two days we’ve taken it easy — or as much as possible with the responsibilities of work back home still calling. One kind participant from the workshops took us on a whirlwind tour of places in Kerala, and crucially the food in Kerala. And yesterday we escaped from the TechnoPark for the beach, where Schuyler made another attempt to check his email on his mobile card in the most unusual place. The beach and waves were so great, and I realized I hadn’t been in the sea for almost a year and a half, tragically too long. I’ll definitely be back to Kerala — the environment and attitude there was amazing.

So now we’re in Bangalore, staying with Dinesh at Servelots, most comfortable. I’m excited for today — with the tech heavy experience here, I think we’re going to progress very quickly.

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