Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mappers are expendable

So as anyone who follows my Dopplr will know, I have a punishing travel schedule and typically circumnavigate the world three times in any given week. There’s just one reason for that - I’m spreading the word about OSM.

Actually there used to be two reasons. I used to put a GPS in the window (Business Class, natch. Thanks VC guys) and then ‘encourage’ the pilots to trace ground features. Unfortunately that had to stop after the episode where I asked them to do a couple of flypasts of the outline of the Pentagon and in fact I haven't been allowed back on American Airlines since.

Now many of you, my disciples, will have heard me talk about OSM. Wherever I am, you'll know there is one word I mention a lot in my talks. Community. Community. The C in SteveC doesn’t stand for Community but it should. Community, Community, Community. I’m a bit like Steve Ballmer in the Developers speech but without the sweaty armpits.

Listen to that word carefully. Community.

Not ‘mappers’.

TeleAtlas have mappers with their Map Insight thing, but they don’t have a community. Google have mappers, but they don’t have a community. Wikimapia have mappers, but not a community or even a licence, though they do have awsome moustaches and a song. And People’s Map don’t have mappers or a community but they do of course have beards.

So we’re the only ones with a community and that’s why we succeed.

So that means the community is more important than any single mapper. If you, as a single mapper, are endangering the community, we can’t afford to keep you. We have over 200,000 mappers now, we won’t miss one or two. I know this sounds a bit like socialism but I like to think of it as the market overcoming obstacles, or 'community libertarianism'. More on that in my forthcoming book 'Thoughts of Chairman Steve'.

Community is everything. For example Potlatch doesn’t have a development community which is why I keep bellyaching about it. Currently it has only one developer and 50,000 users. It would be much better if it were more like Mapzen which has 50,000 developers and one user.

So in August this guy Anthony arrived and has since proceeded to crap all over our mailing lists at extremely high volume. The talk list now comprises Anthony and five mad Aussies and everyone else has fucked off in desperation.

Anthony has a bit of a track record of fucking up communities and, in particular, of following his own pig-headed opinions on copyright no matter what anyone else thinks. Now he’s determined to do the same on OSM.

Mappers are expendable. Community is everything. 20 pages of tiny edits do not give you the right to ignore the community. The hive mind of OSM has not disappointed me yet. Go to it, disciples.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


So that smart Muti guy has figured that OSM has crap mapping for crap towns. We are 90% complete for London and 275% complete for Karlsruhe but when it comes to some town up north beginning with N, our mappers don’t even go there, sister.

Although we have at least put the railway station on the railway line rather than, for example, 750m offshore. Well done on that one, Ed. Also we don’t have a completely bogus motorway to the south.

Personally I don’t see why we need to map places where noone wants to go - it sounds like Schrodinger’s PND to me.

But maybe I can explain why “the gap between affluent and deprived LSOAs is growing”, which Nick translates for me as “the percentage of shitholes in OSM is going down”.

Back in the day we had mapping parties and all the old-school crowd turned up. We spent the day cycling around shitholes and dropping Gekos (remember them?) onto concrete. Then we came back to some room for which we had lost the key, spent two hours trying to upload the first node to the API, then went to the pub.

These days all the old-school crowd have got girlfriends, or spend all their time writing Fake blogs, or have been made redundant so can’t afford to travel to mapping parties any more. So we don’t have parties any more (look if you don’t believe me).

But, we figure, we have 10,000 new mappers per day (PR guy please check stats, thanks) so we don’t need parties.

Actually all the new mappers are still middle-class geeks who want to map their neighbourhood. It's rare that you find a rags-to-riches hero like me who has made their way up from the mean streets of Surrey. So the shitholes no longer get mapped.

Let’s make 2010 the Year of the Shithole Mapping Party and git those crap towns mapped. Or maybe we could wait until April and just lift the Ordnance Survey’s data. Tough call.