Recent diary entries
The first London winter pub meet-up is TONIGHT. We've rolled over into "winter pub meet-up" mode, since the clocks have changed and the evenings are properly dim and dismal now. So join us tonight for... no mapping just beers!
Three weeks ago we had a "Summer" mapping evening. I got off a crowded tube train at Old Street and found I'd lost my android phone. Either dropped or pick-pocketed. So as I went outside and tried to gather some map data in the gathering winter darkness and pouring rain, around the stark tower blocks streets of St Luke's area, I gently sobbed to myself (*)
Imagine how my spirits were lifted as I arrived at the Wenlock Arms pub, to be greeted by a table full of OpenStreetMap friends, a wonderfully cosy atmosphere, a fine array of real ales, and a phone call to say "I've found your phone on the tube. D'you want to collect it tomorrow night?"
More OpenStreetMap friends arrived. We only had one little table but maybe 10-15 people! The Wenlock Arms is a small pub, but we were able to spread onto quite a few seats, plus a lot standing at bars etc, but still feeling like a nice cosy OpenStreetMap gathering. We also didn't really fit into one photo. This was our best attempt:
It was great to have Ed Freyfogle along, chief of Nestoria, chief of #geomob, and newly crowned foursquare mayor of the pub (he's a regular) And Matt was along too. Here you see his hair has grown back after the stress of the license change, but the french community have piled on some more DWG stress recently, so he's probably lost it all again :-( But this was 3 weeks ago, so Matt and Ed are laughing jovially ...and there's me:
I didn't take notes of our discussion topics this time (or if I did, I lost them) but I'm pretty sure we discussed the OS Locater musical chairs tool since ris was there. And with Ed we discussed Nestoria's uses of OpenStreetMap, and problems with tube station rendering (they're not shown prominently enough by MapQuest or osm 'standard' style) . Shaun was down from Ipswitch, and we even had Edward Betts back in London after several years away. In fact Edward was saying he attended the Map Limehouse event. 2005!
The Wenlock Arms pub is great, not least because they use OpenStreetMap on their website (a little bit), plus the fore-mentioned cosiness and ale selection, but one fatal problem is the lack of food options. We held out for quite a while, but eventually burritos called, although we left a small OSM team behind to do the pub quiz!
We probably would have had a pub meet-up a week ago, but that would have clashed with w3g conference. There were some OpenStreetMappers mingling in the geo-crowds there. And some OpenStreetMappy discussions. Personally I went a bit overboard on the pre-conference geobeers, so was hungover for the whole thing, but it was fun. Maybe got some people interested in coming along tonight?
Join us tonight at the Blue Posts on Newman Street from 7pm! Details here. I've given up trying to predict whether we'll get a big turn out. There's no logic to it. Could go either way. But I've always found small pub meet-ups are just as a fun as big ones. In theory we could look at how may people signed up on lanyrd but people don't all do this (c'mon! at least "track" the event!) But hey, four people so far. That aint bad.
(*) This is just dramatic storytelling. I didn't actually sob.
I was so hyper-enthused with a glowing sense of geotastic-all-conquering pride after last week's London pub meet-up, that I went ahead and set up the next pub meet-up. Yes. We've had the details on the wiki page two weeks in advance. How very well organised! Do come along and join us on Thursday 11th in a pub over in Hoxton.
But what was I so pleased about at last week's meet-up?
The Monkey Puzzle did a switch2osm! It was a sort of live-action-laptop-over-the-bar switch2osm.
I've chatted to the landlord, Gary, a few times before. He knows about those crazy guys who come to merrily drink with an "OpenStreetMap" sign on the table. And when I said they should switch from google maps to OpenStreetMap on the Monkey Puzzle website, he said "Errr. Yes... yes we should", and after some confused behind-the-bar discussions about who knew how to update the website and what that would involve, he went and fetched his laptop.
This was highly amusing to me at the time, but then I had had several pints. Presented with a very slowly loading wordpress admin interface I didn't try to do anything too fancy, but swapped out their google maps iframe and put in an OpenStreetMap one. Boom! switch2osm live and direct!
Check out the new themonkeypuzzlepub.co.uk contact page! The Monkey Puzzle was our favourite pub before, but this makes it the greatest OpenStreetMappiest pub in the whole of London for sure.
What else happened? As well as that, we had some good beer-fuelled map-chat in a tight circle, with not many people showing up (6 people). One of these was a new chap. Someone called Vin, who I had come across via n0tice. He's big into n0tice, and is using it to devise a concept he calls "**pubmapping**" involving stream-of-conciousness photoing and 'reporting' from a pub... or something. We tried it. Here is a our set of iPhone photos and other nonsense which I have "reposted" onto the "OpenStreetMap noticeboard". See how that works? ...no. Me neither. I did show him how we do pub mapping, using JOSM to highlight the pubs data gathered in the Paddington area. As an aside, on IRC yesterday ris pointed out this awesome changeset by a brand new user. Now that's pub mapping!
Vin explained that he was interested in capturing how a pub makes you feel, and this got us onto a conversation about "subjective" mapping. We try to avoid putting subjective data, such as ratings of pubs, into OpenStreetMap. Other similar ideas pop up all the time with greater or lesser merit. The H.O.T. list has debated whether measures of the risk of a disaster can be captured on a the map somehow, e.g. where a local resident anecdotally reports that an area is at risk of flood or landslide. All worthwhile data to capture somehow, but maybe not using the OpenStreetMap database directly. We could do with more tools like ushahidi which let people layer data on top of OpenStreetMap. Ushahidi handles data on temporary situational reports, which mostly wouldn't belong in OSM directly. Subjective data could be captured in similar (but not the same) tools.
We also got talking about radiation leaks and aeroplane crashes :-O
Oh and Grant was showing off his new head mounted camera
By the way I did also do some mapping beforehand, though I think I was the only one, and I was running late so just very quickly swung by on my bike and got a bunch of very blurry photos in the gathering darkness (it's getting to that time year again). But this was enough to check a few things I wasn't sure about while armchair mapping the building outlines. For example if you look at the bing imagery around this building it's not obvious whether it's attached to other buildings nearby or not. A very quick check on-the-ground makes for better data.
So we're going to Hoxton on Thursday 11th, all the details here. We'll be at the Wenlock Arms. Why did I choose this pub? The Wenlock Arms has been threatened with closure, with various outrageous plans to turn it into ...something other than a pub. Always sad. But actually we're continuing a switch2osm theme! wenlock-arms.co.uk has been linking to OpenStreetMap for a while now, so it's time we go reward them for this, and show our support by drinking a few beers there (That's the deal by the way, if there's any pub landlords reading this... switch2osm, and we'll come drink there!)
Also the pub is reasonably well placed for a mapping excursion. The area around Hoxton Square, further to the East is probably higher priority actually. (We really need to finish off the Shoreditch "tech city" area with building outlines. Individual mapping missions encouraged!) Around the Wenlock Arms the buildings have been filled in, but maybe not with a survey. not sure. Some more footpath details could be good, plus I see some buildings missing, so I've laid the cake slices out accordingly.
Join in with that if you fancy it, or just join us for a social meet-up, come along to meet and learn more about OpenStreetMap!
As I get psyched up ready for a London mapping session this evening (Listening to "Eye of the tiger". That sort of thing) I realise it's been an interesting few weeks...
Last week I went to Amsterdam and presented OpenStreetMap and H.O.T. at the PICNIC festival. Here's a video of the session. There's another interview video still to come I think. I'll blog some photos and more details about that. UPDATE: blog now here
Last Thursday I had been sprinkling a few comments around the web, on press coverage of Apples debut of their iOS6 maps. iPhone users the world over, were loudly complaining about apple's switch from google maps. This really shows how strong the big G's dominance of web & mobile mapping is. Phone users and also tech-savvy app developers are insistant upon google maps. It's hardwired deep into their psychology now, such that forcibly presenting a different map causes great upset. This is what OpenStreetMap is up against, but last week apple swung a battering ram at google's mappy castle. They may be annoyed but users and developers being liberated. They're experiencing a realisation that there is a choice of map providers. It's only a short leap of logic from there to go seek the open alternative. That's us! Over here!
So after spending the whole day pointing out what an evil grip google holds on people's map preferences (slagging off google essentially) on various forums, I half expected to be refused entry the google campus building for Thursdays #geomob. Maybe I thwarted them by turning up late. I caught the end of Lawrence's talk showing various old maps, and concepts for maps, particularly looking at "linear maps". Anyone done any more OSM experiments on Linear Maps to list on this wiki page?
Then "recce" guys presented their map. It's stunning, but be warned, it's not OpenStreetMap (boo). Actually if you want an OpenStreetMap-based similar thing, UK travel options has a similar 3D zoomy twisty finger swiping experience (and UK wide), but admittedly not as gorgeous as Recce's semi-realistic cartoony look.
In the pub afterwards I had a good chat with Bart Denny of recce, formally of google maps. He said he liked the idea of OpenStreetMap, but what's a good mobile app for contributing easily? I had no convincing answer to this question, and he was quite forthright in his criticism of OpenStreetMap for failing to get this sorted out. Now admittedly I'm not an expert on all the apps available (who is?) but I had to agree with him, that we really badly need better mobile apps for contributing to OSM.
He had a theory (which he also stated in relation to Recce, and his previous work at google) that map data gathering is about to become very smartphone-based and that the problem of building a complete and accurate representation of the world will largely disappear. Phones are already powerful enough and widespread enough that map providers could get their users to capture data with a simple panoramic sweep of their camera (and some very clever optical recognition) Who owns that data is still a question. If OpenStreetMap can stay in the game it can eventually win out by offering it as open data. But we have a little way to go before that!
We have an opportunity to grab some attention of iPhone users who are looking around for better map apps, but it's an opportunity we're missing a little bit because our list of iOS apps is a bit confusing. We're listing some quite old apps, some which don't work any more, some which have nothing to do with OpenStreetMap except that they can be used for recording tracks. It's quite difficult to find the gems in there. Those doing interesting things with offline data or vector data (the OpenStreetMap advantage) or those with editing capabilities. A lot of the wiki pages need a bit of a rewrite, sometimes with obvious formatting / info from the appstore (see Wiki Maintainance Tasks ), ideally by actually installing the app to test what it actually does. Who wants to help?
I started doing this and happened upon DirectU (now with some wiki description). It's a free app which gives me the whole of Europe (or other regions) for offline viewing. Rather like MapDroyd but working on ipod touch. Nice!
We're also not doing too well at documenting and promoting the "upgrade path" for iOS developers to use various libraries for embedding OpenStreetMap. There's a list of options here, but maybe we need to compose some new pages for switch2osm.org on this topic. Lots to do!
But for now... I need to go to the pub! No doubt we'll chat about some of these issues while eating the nice steak pie they do at the Monkey Puzzle. If you're in London, come join us (TONIGHT!)
What's been happening lately? Oh yeah...
We've finally changed the license! Hurray!
On the foundation blog I've been posting quite a lot about the license change process, as we in Communication Working Group have been working to ensure that this channel is a useful place to get "official" (carefully worded) updates on this sort of thing. Obviously in this capacity it's important to be positive about it, but I'd just like to say from a personal perspective...
We've finally changed the license! Hurray!
The best thing about this is... we don't ever have to talk abut the license change ever again! No doubt there'll be lots of talk about the new license, but the fact is... it's done. The license change sucked so much energy from the community and particularly from people who are core to making things happen in OpenStreetMap. So many ideas have been on hold while we battled with this thing. Thank goodness it's over. I really need to go to the pub to celebrate (more on that later)
The Society of Cartographers conference also happened. This was maptastic, and quite OpenStreetMappy. In fact the very first talk was from David Earl (Freelance) - Project Drake: new maps for The University of Cambridge using OpenStreetMap. Steven Feldman talked about OSM and a bit about OSMGB. I blogged here about my little workshop on using OpenStreetMap data While I was doing that Andy Allan was doing a workshop on TileMill, which I wanted to go to. And on the third day as part of the ICA neocartography conference we had Richard Fairhurst presenting the Unstoppable Advance of OpenStreetMap including the awesome neo Steve Chilton slide:
Lots more map stuff besides, also chocolate muffins, and a tour on an open top bus. It was a pretty great conference. Not as great as State Of The Map obviously. Would've loved to be in Tokyo. In October I wont be going all the way to SOTM U.S. either, but SOTM Scotland could be a goer!
The vote for the board happened. I didn't actually vote in the end. Couldn't make up my mind. Some U.S. representation on the board would've been good. Kate would've been great on the board, though she's already very busy being great for HOT. Alex could've brought some of that shiny MapBox magic to the core of the project. But congratulations to Frederik and Simon. They're both very well known as massive contributors to the project, and people with strong opinions and powerful arguments about how the project should be run. They'll do great things in the driving seat I'm sure, but also this will maybe help make more German and Swiss OSMers feel involved in the OSMF a little more (e.g. joining the working groups) which could be a great boost.
I'm in Amsterdam next week for the PICNIC conference where I'll be presenting OpenStreetMap and HOT.
Also next week on Thursday it's #geomob, this time hosted at the google campus. Dunno if there's any google related geo presentations lined up. Time for some heckling? I'm sure it will be a geo-treat as ever, and will involve a pub.
All of this means that, despite my desire to have a good OpenStreetMap pub celebration, I'm not very free until the week after. If somebody wants to organise a OSMLondon meet-up before that, next Tuesday could be a good day, but I'm coming back from Amsterdam late that day. Whatever happens the OSMLondon event details are on the wiki page
Thanks to those who came along and helped me celebrate my birthday with a big BBQ again. Thanks especially to Alex who crafted a custom rendered map birthday card for me:
That was a couple of weeks ago. Time flies, and I've been a bit slow to organise stuff, but THIS SATURDAY it's already time to for a birthday celebration for OpenStreetMap!:
So far we're partying in Toronto Canada, Cleveland Ohio U.S., Lisbon Portugal, and of course London! I've just picked a pub, trying to think of one with some scope for enjoying sunshine and/or views of the river. The good old Doggets on the South Bank. As we're partying on a Saturday, hopefully lots of people can make it, even if you're travelling into London from afar. Do it! You know you want to! And get in touch if you want some cheap couch surfing accommodation. Add yourself on lanyrd to make the event look more popular. As ever I'm hoping we'll get some interesting new folks, including maybe people who are just a little curious about OpenStreetMap. Who should we be inviting along?
And, as I often seem to accidentally prove, you can organise an OpenStreetMap party at quite short notice, so for those elsewhere in the world, now is the time to add your city to the list and help make this a worldwide party! Which german city will be the first to set something up??
A few weeks back (Thu July 19th) we had a little London Summer evening mapping session around Chancery Lane and a pub meet-up at the Penderel's Oak. I probably should've written about some of the conversations closer to the time because the timing was interesting, but things have moved on. We were right in the middle of the redaction bot run at that point. Up until the the day before, I had been assuming that the redactions wouldn't have reached London by this date. In my slice of the cake I had already deleted bad building outlines data and remapped them from bing, just in time, it turns out, to give the bot a little less redacting to do. By the time we were out mapping that evening, the bot had aleady delt with the whole of the UK, most of europe and the U.S. (it's now complete of course)
This was the top topic of conversation in the pub. There was some relief and satifaction that things were going smoothly and the bot was running quite quickly. It had been widely predicted that speed was going to be more of an issue. We might have been watching my progress map for months and months, but by this evening it had become clear that the we'd be finished in a matter of days not months. It had also become clear that my progress map was going to be showing rather too many vector objects for most browsers to cope with. I had spotted this flaw from the beginning, but was expecting to have a week or so to figure out a solution!
While the bot was running there was a danger that it would whip up a frenzy of pointlessly alarmist complaints about things like which order it was processing the world in, so it was a relief that these were rendered mute by the speed of the bot's progress. Haiti was granted a special delay for a few days because people asked nicely, but even there, the editing community probably came to a realisation that actually remapping gets a whole lot easier when it's just a matter of filling in gaps. At this stage Poland was also being delayed because of a glitch with the whitelisting and blacklisting there.
In the pub (The Penderel's Oak big wetherspoons in Holborn) we had quite a big crowd, so lots of other topics of conversation. Thanks to Alex for getting some photos
Steve Chilton was there. He's organising the Society Of Cartographers annual conference in London in September. I went to one of these down in Plymouth. Very friendly and enjoyable conference for anyone interested in map making. I recommend it! And it's coming to London (Hosted at UCL)
Martin Cyclestreets was there (not his real name) He was chatting to me about the latest cyclestreets developments. Some frustrations with OpenLayers and things which seem to be a whole lot easier in leaflet (popups were mentioned in particular) He's hoping to drum up some more support for the England Cycling Data Project and he's made a nice screencast of the fat lines merging feature. Maybe we should all chip in and work on improving OSMs cycling data in the UK, because the big G have very recently announced new support for cycle routing in the UK using data given to them by sustrans. On the other hand their routing is a bit lame. What a shame they don't use OpenStreetMap data. What a shame the very large and well funded UK cycling charity sustrans, pay no attention to OpenStreetMap and OpenCycleMap whatsoever.
We had a new chap along in the pub whose name I forget, but he was interested in tube transport data, something I do a bit of work with myself. He was asking, could OpenStreetMap (or something) be used to build up a 3D picture of underground tunnels, including pedestrian access tunnels? I did show him this nifty 3D underground thingy, which is not OpenStreetMap powered. Not open data at all in fact. boo! But it is really neat. Could be done with OSM, but putting this much underground detail (and levels/depth info) into our map data would make for some confusing clutter.
He was also talking about measuring crowdedness on tube trains by firing lasers through the carriages. He was imagining a project TfL could do, but I was already plotting a more grassroots "unnofficial" laser data gathering project :-)
So this was a little catch up on a previous London event. There is another one I'm still to catch up on, and there'll be more news of...
The OpenStreetMap Anniversary Party plans for London (just as soon as I've thought what those plans might be) . This is the BIG pub meet-up of the year. Keep the date free (Sat 18th) and make plans to travel to London if you're within range. If you're not within range, head to the Toronto one, or maybe you need to throw your own OpenStreetMap Anniversary Party in your corner of the globe!
Last week we had a London Summer OpenStreetMap event near smithfields. Although close to my office, it was a great urban explorational experience for me again. I was mapping St Bart's Hospital (here), which I hadn't particularly ever noticed before. A mix of old buildings around a nice square in the middle, a new bit with a sneakily hidden cafe, and lots of big new construction.
Actually I wasn't mapping it, I was remapping it. It's easy to forget that though, if you delete the red data in separate operation beforehand (which feels quite destructive), then later come back and imagine it was never there. You're left with a nice new patch, and it feels like new mapping.
Of course there'll be plenty more "nice new patches" pretty soon, when the license change redaction bot does it's thing. With Andy Allan and Matt Amos both in attendance at the pub, redaction bot development was a top topic. It's become a bit meaningless to say "it's nearly there", partly because we've always been wrong, but partly because we can break down the development and testing of this thing into many stages. But Andy's been making some great progress see rebuild list posts and we're expecting to be running the bot on some real data imminently. In the pub we were discussing this, but Andy was also cautioning not to get too excited. There's plenty of things which could go wrong requiring some re-coding.
We had along Mike (user ViewFromTheBoundary) who is interested in using OpenStreetMap for a website about opera houses. He had done some rendering investigations, but was confused by the project documentation and the confusing array of alternative approaches. Coming along to an OSM meet-up is a great way to cut to the chase! He had been experimenting with a thing called "Generic Mapping Tools", a set of tools with a bad name. Looked like he'd had some success with basic zoomed out road maps. We were chatting about various map display options. The basic markers/mash-up approach versus raster tile rendering versus static map images. Andy Allan was offering advice. Since he's been providing the transport map and setting up thunderforest.com, he's now happy to be known as "the guy that does worldwide custom OSM tile rendering", rather than just "the guy that does OpenCycleMap".
At the data end of this problem Mike was encountering familiar problems of tagging inconsistencies. I think arts venue tagging isn't all that well decided. Heck there isn't even a properly documented tag for an art gallery at the moment (due to too many tag ideas rather than too few). Mike was saying he has some datasets which could be imported. I suggested the "community import" approach, presenting the data and letting mappers to decide how to merge it in on a case by case basis. Shaun used to have a nice example of this with "Bike Shop Locator". Seems to be offline at the moment though.
Speaking of Shaun (the excessively bearded man in the above picture), he's taking a new job at itoworld and it sounds like he's going to be working on "the fun stuff", OpenStreetMap and their work with map renderings and data QA tools. Awesome! But it means he's leaving London and heading to that mysterious place at the start of the 2008 year of edits video. Shaun seems to cycle the length and breadth of the country twice a week anyway, so I'm sure we'll be seeing him.
Paul the archivist is also leaving London. He's done some great detailed mapping in his time down here, but his archiving contract came to an end so he's heading back home to Derby and searching for archiving pastures new. If you have an archiving opportunity, Paul the archivist is your man! Maybe he'll find something in London again, or hopefully somewhere which needs lots of mapping at least!
It's been rainy as hell in London lately, but we were fortunate to hit upon a warm (humid) evening last Wednesday. On Saturday 4th August I'll be having a BBQ round my house. By then we'll surely be having some summer weather right? So keep that date free, and I'll give you some more details. But let's squeeze in another pub meet-up / mapping evening between now and then. How about next Thursday 19th? Suggested locations anyone? Details will be announced on the wiki page.
London's map is still looking like a bloodbath when you look at the OSM Inspector License Change View and there's not much time left to sort this out before the redaction bots do their thing and sort it out in one big chop. However the bloodbath view is a little misleading. Zoom in and you see patches of building outlines are the main cause of red blotches in central London for example. Easy enough to sort those out. Building outlines would have been mostly put in purely via armchair mapping with bing imagery.
Speaking of which, a few weeks back bing removed their super-hi-res imagery over London, leaving us only with the kind-of-hi-res imagery which was newer but more shadowy, and generally much harder to pick out details in. I suspected this would be a temporary thing, and today I was pleased to discover that the super-hi-res is back, but newly updated. They've now eliminated the kind-of-hi-res imagery set, and made the lower zooms more consistent, with no jarring changes or offset problems while zooming. Here's what Fenchurch Street station (here) looked like last week versus now.
But I don't have an image of how it looked three weeks ago. Back then we had similar super-hi-res, but older.
It's tempting to just sit back and see where the building outlines disappear when the license tainted data is removed, and then fill in some gaps using bing when the time comes.
However it is better to do remapping because we can do a better job of it (survey!) where it was only sketched from bing before, and in some places we need to try to avoid losing too much of the tagging data which has been added to the building outlines over time, after being initially sketched by a non-agreer. That's true of this area around St Paul's where we're going mapping this evening.
I feel bad that I haven't been sorting out this area on my lunchbreaks. I guess I need a pub prize at the end of it all to motivate me, and pub a prize we shall have in form of way 146986827 The Butchers Hook and Cleaver. Clever name you see, because it's right by the Smithfields meat market. See what they've done there? Come join us for beers and map chat. Join us for (re)mapping beforehand if you fancy it. Also I can meet people at 6:30 and give a mapping demonstration if this is requested (so far nobody this time) ...But if it all sounds too confusing you're very welcome to just see us in the pub. All the details. See you TONIGHT??!
On Thursday we had one of our regular London OpenStreetMap events. Standard stuff, but this one turned out a little different. We had quite a low turn out of people who normally regularly turn out, but then three new folks coming along, all of whom opted to join me for a data collection demonstration.
Happily it stopped raining and cleared up nicely in time for mapping. My cake slice slice number 6505 of cake number 116 involved some building mapping and remapping, for a bunch of big office buildings including the thing I always call "the Natwest tower", more properly known as "Tower 42". Tallest building in the city until the new Heron tower was built. When I say the city I mean "The City" financial area of London. Canary Wharf is taller, and is also in this city known as London, but not in "The City" if you know what I mean. Anyway I'd never looked around the base of this building. It's quite interesting. Various complicated 3D arrangements of buildings which will be nightmare to input in all their detail. Also multi-level walkways, which I found quite interesting to explore. They are looking horribly run-down due to being made in concrete which looks messily stained thirty years on, and with drainage problems. There was also signs on the walkways saying "no public right or way" and "no through route". I don't know if they are looking so shabby because they are disused, or we're disallowed from using them because they are shabby. Seems a shame. If only there were some wealthy financial institutions nearby who might spend a bit of money tidying it all up. Anyway, with signs dutifully ignored, we had fun exploring (me and the three people I was demonstrating to)
In the Crosse Keys pub we sat at a tall the table in the corner and admired the cavernous vastness of it. Many hundreds of cubic metres of glorious wetherspoonsness:
I had the feeling the three people I'd been demonstrating to all knew a thing or two about mapping already. Thomas from MapAction is obviously a GISer. I really hope we can make him into more of an OSMer, along with other MapAction folks. Florian was asking lots of questions about different mobile apps to track with, and had obviously tried a bit of mapping before. And then there was Tom Morris who quickly whipped out his laptop and used JOSM on the wetherspoons wifi to input some of the data we'd gathered!
Lots of interesting conversations with Tom actually. We got talking about his local mapping of countryside footpaths around Tunbridge Wells, and also...
Tom Morris is very involved in the wikipedia community. Long time contributor to the Wikipedia Signpost community newsletter. In his admining roles he gets embroiled in endless debates on many and varied topics which come up when you're trying to collaborate on writing the entire canon of human knowledge.
It's pretty interesting to look at some of the policies and power structures they have in place. These are big and complex, and it feels like wikipedia is building a government, which on the one hand is pretty impressive (I find it amazing), but on the other hand it's widely criticised as heavyweight and bureaucratic. We were particularly chatting about the notability criteria, which seems to create a lot of debate, and whether there would ever be a parallel for that in OpenStreetMap. Given that we map the real world as it is, there's less to debate, but I wonder whether deciding on a maximum level of detail is a bit like deciding on notability.
If you're interested in polices and power structures of wikipedia and how they compare to OSM (also in relation to funding and staffing choices) have a read of Frederik's 'learning from wikipedia' essay.
Incidentally discussion came up in this thread a couple of days ago, of whether or not OSM's messaging system could follow wikipedia's public "user talk page" approach. I think we should go this way, and I'd like to chat about it some more. Is this one for the 'design' mailing list?
And speaking of mailing list discussion, we also chatted about how OSM is perceived within the wikipedia community. Tom Morris was saying there'd been a discussion recently prompted by the TomTom thing. found it here. Some of the usual criticisms of OSM there, but on the whole it seems like wikipedia folks are getting in on the OpenStreetMap fun a bit more these days. Their new virtualised clusters of development tool servers known as 'wikimedia labs' already include some OpenStreetMap rendering experiments (see the OpenStreetMap mention here), and Tom hinted there may be more of that to come. Collaboration of the collaborations!
We'll announce the next London OpenStreetMap summer event on the wiki page and on @OSMLondon. As ever I'm pondering whether an event of a different format should happen, and who could help organise it, and what venues could we use, but in couple of weeks time I'm sure we'll just go to a pub again. And that will be whole lot of fun anyway :-) (other suggestions welcome!)
We had a bit of a lull in the OSMLondon events while I was away. I was away in Brasil as previously described here and away in Washington on a HOT board strategy meeting as mentioned on the HOT blog and in my #geomob talk. As well as HOT strategising, we were presenting at geoDC, panelling at the Wilson Centre, workshopping at the world bank, and taking the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team to the highest levels of government:
That was all a while ago now. #geomob was a geotastic follow up back here in London. Besides my HOT talk there were three other talks, this time not quite as OSMish, but still mucho mappy followed by pub. And then finally there was...
The first of the London Summer OpenStreetMap events. As it happened it coincided with what felt like the beginning of summer, so very pleasant to be hitting the streets to do a bit of mapping around Shoreditch. I was showing the ropes to somebody new. As usual while talking and mapping I didn't do a very good job of it, and missed out all the best bits I actually needed to map. I shall have to pop back there on my lunch-break some time.
Then we gathered at the Strongroom Bar. I remembered going to this place on some previous occasion. It has a pleasant kind of alleyway place for drinking outdoors. It's typically shoreditch hip and trendy and the high priced drinks paid the salaries of bar staff with particularly hip hair styles, who served drinks really slowly. So that was annoying, but as we find in loads of places, it got better when the afterwork crowd eased off, and we sat inside at a table.
Paul the archivist brought with him, not one, but two different print publications featuring many OpenStreetMap maps. The Crossrail information magazine is apparently available for free from the cross rail information centre and uses five or six map images of different crossrail sites across London. Then a book, the CAMRA Manchester Pub Guide with a loads of Manchester maps. Presumably not very far outside the city centre. Those areas are ranking poorly on mapping completeness (Need more Manchester mappers!)
Paul also suggested a pub for the next London summer event. This'll be cheaper. It's a weatherspoons! The Crosse Keys is also situated nicely in a patch of missing building details in The City (map ) and also a lot of red patches which are soon to be redacted (Looks bad, but it's mostly low value building outlines. Easily replaced).
So we'll do another evening mapping party there next week on Thursday. All the details here. I've set the pub meeting time to 7:30 to give us a tad more mapping time. Let me know if you'd like to learn how mapping works and meet me at 6:30pm for a demo. For the rest you, the usual deal. Sign up for a slice of the cake. Do some mapping then head to the pub! Know anyone who lives outside London in a Liverpool Street station direction? Tell them about the event!
Additionally there's an AGI event tomorrow night. A lecture at 6pm and then the geodrinks from 7:30. It's kind of an "geo industry" thing, which might sound boring to some people, but these folks are always interested in chatting about OpenStreetMap, so I reckon I'll go do that! See the kind of people who've signed up, and sign up yourself! (required)
I've just arrived in Washinton D.C. now, but that's another story. I've been away in Brazil having a nice holiday, but not really a holiday from OpenStreetMap. no no no. Lots of mapping. And even some OpenStreetMap meet-ups!
While packing in a bit of a hurry I managed to forget my GPS unit. My poor old NaviGPS has been languishing unused for so long, I'm not even sure where it is any more. But I did have my android phone for mapping, and I recently learned...
- When the android GPS icon is flashing, it doesn't have a location. It doesn't flash each time it's sampling or anything like that. When it's flashing it has no GPS lock yet. My phone can take a good couple of minutes to get a GPS lock and stop flashing
- When the GPS icon stops flashing and is on permanently, it works quite well, and stays on assuming (I guess) you're running an app which asks for the location often
- The Power widget lets you toggle GPS to switch it on, but this more like 'enabling' it. It won't even begin getting a lock until an app first asks for a location.
- This means for example when I first select "My Location" in MapDroyd it has no hope of telling me my location!
In fact I'm sure those things should've been obvious, but I guess I just didn't bother paying attention until recently. My phone (a cheap £100 Orange San Francisco AKA ZTE Blade) is a bit slow, which irritates me to the point of not bothering quite a lot of the time. Maybe this influenced my choice of tracking apps. oruxmaps has worked for me in the past (the recommendation here ), but I used OSMTracker throughout this holiday. Seems quite nice and simple. In fact the features could be stripped down further for my purposes. I just used it for recording a track, while doing photo mapping using my seperate camera.
The other thing I tried out was downloading maps into Mapdroyd using the 'Via PC' button. It works, unlike direct downloads into the app which have become very unreliable lately. I dont know if this is due to problems at the CloudMade server end. 'Via PC' works but is a bit convoluted It's a shame the reliability/ease of the download is holding back this awesome app from taking OSM to lots of mainstream users. Anyway mapdroyd gave me an OSM map of Brazil for the holiday, and it seems to be pretty up-to-date.
This included recently sketched in unnamed roads for pretty much the whole of Guarulhos , where my girlfriend's family lives. I've done some mapping in Guarulhos on previous trips, but I recently got into an amusing conversation with a foursquare superuser (somebody who spends their life contributing to foursquare and takes it very seriously) who was criticising OpenStreetMap and complaining that the Guaruhlos map was rubbish. At that time is was pretty rubbish. The map had maybe a quarter of the city's roads sketched in from bing, and just handful of those with names which I'd gathered. User:Toi spotted this discussion and responded proactively with a mammoth armchair mapping sprint to map the whole of Guaruhlos. Nice! Just need to work on the road names now. I got chance to bag lots more road names while out there. Still need to enter them in.
I also mapped as we went along on a week long trip to Paraty and visiting many surrounding beaches on the beautiful mountian jungle coastline just north of São Paulo. I like the native indian places names: Ubatuba and Caraguatatuba. There's a geo-attraction in Ubatuba: A marker thing for the line of the tropic of capricorn. There's also this shop helpfully providing it's latitude and longitude! I mapped things like this, plus general city mapping helped by bing in Ubatuba, but no bing for Paraty (Brazil has funny stripes of bing coverage ) Some stuff was on the map already. The most striking omission was...
Beaches! ("Praias" in portguese) The towns and suburbs on the coast are all characterized by their beaches, and often named after them "Praia xxxx", so for anyone other than a passing motorist, a meaningful map of the area needs natural=beach areas drawn in, It's an easyish armchair mapping challenge, particuarly where bing is available, and it made me wonder why nobody had done it yet in this area, and also could it be a fun topic of a coordinated sprint, like the big baseball project? I say easy-ish because it's not quite as easy as a baseball pitch. Although beaches are easy to spot, even in landsat imagery, you have to attach them to the coastline way in a slightly fiddly manner, and the slower coastline rendering update cycle can create confusion. The coastline way itself needed refining in this area, and that of course is a massive wordwide and fractally endless armchair mapping task, but this area still had a lot of coarse PGS coastline despite bing coverage.
And then there was the São Paulo meet-ups! I've managed to do a little OSM meet-up on the past three times I've been there. They laughed about how they don't actually organise meet-ups and don't see eachother except when I'm in the country. This time we bounced emails around in circles to try to pick a good time, but seemed to fail. Just me and Claudomiro made it to the actual OSM meet-up, but with numbers boosted by some other friends who (of course) we tried to persuade to become OSMers.
But then I spotted that the Open Knowledge Foundation were running an event the day before I was leaving. Pizzas, cervejas, and dados abertas!. I think this was a big coincidence. I've been to a couple of OKFN events in London, and the main man Rufus Pollock happened to be in São Paulo at this time, where OKFN are setting up a brazilian branch. They'd also been on tour, attending an open data government conference in Brasilia. This is the same conference I noticed Mapbox guys tweeting from and doing mapping at. But at this event we sat around on beanbags discussing open data, with beers and pizzas, in a funky place called 'Casa da cultura digitale', which is also host to the São Paulo hackspace
And the OSMers were out in force. Claudomiro, Diogo, and Vitor all made it along. Even my girlfriend was helping to explain OSM (I'm so proud). I had the impression some open data passion was taking hold in Brazil, and we were there at the start of something. Having lots of OSMers there is good way to get the word out and embed OpenStreetMap as a part of the open data culture. OSM Londoners should keep an eye out for the next OKFN events there
At the moment though OSMLondoners will be wondering when the summer events will kick off! If nobody else is setting something up... you'll just have to wait, because although I came back from my OSMtastic trip to Brazil, I'm now out in Washington D.C. for a week. This trip promisis to be OSMtastic also, but more on that later.
I didn't organise a London OpenStreetMap meet-up in a while. The last one was in ye olde cheshire cheese last month. As usual Alex got some great photos, and me... slightly less so (on flickr)
I really like this pub, but it is a bit loud and echoey when it's crowded like this. We shouted some interesting conversation at each other though:
Derick was thinking about how to build a tool for vandalism/mistake detection, i.e. a tool which analyses edits as they come in and flags up ones which seem a bit bogus. Some basic heuristics should be quite easy, but he was finding some limitations with the basic API calls for retrieving objects, areas, and changesets. In particular you can't easily identify an edit which moves a node, or get the location where the node has moved from. This information would be interesting to display for a particular changeset, it could even be added to the changeset displays on the website somehow, but at the moment the old location of a node requires a history call (for each node you're interested in). Obviously there's more intensive solutions involving syncing with diffs or crunching the history dump data, but perhaps seeing where a node has moved should be easier.
At work I've recently come to the end of a project to develop a native iPhone app, and weirdly I'm itching to develop something else, even though I don't really like apple's closed platform, and I had a lot of struggles learning iPhone development. Maybe it's because of those struggles. So we talked about ideas for simple OSM apps. At the moment there's quite a few ideas which would still fill a gap. It seems weird to me that MapZen POI collector remains the best OSM editor for iPhone... even though in many ways it's really not that good. Although the simplicity is awesome, and I actually think limiting to POIs rather than geometry is a good move, this kind of app could be extended to include OpenStreetBugs reporting / finding, and maybe offline operation, in terms of not needing an internet connection to load the background maps, and also storing changes for review and upload later. There's also "gaps in the market" for more simple non-editing apps using OSM data e.g. for local search. As usual I'm talking about these things, but probably won't get around to doing anything.
We talked about remapping needed in London. Derick's been heading out and knocking off a few priority areas. There's still a few tube line related problems, and most importantly we were noting that some pubs need to be re-mapped!
We also talked about London mapping in relation to Alex's proposal to armchair map more building outlines. I'm supportive of the idea provided it's done carefully. If this sounds horrific, and you despise all armchair mapping ideas, I have to tell you your opinions are not currently very well reflected in the comments there, or on the 'armchair mapping' wiki page discussions. As for the opinions in the pub, I think I actually missed this conversation (mainly because it was too loud, and I was shouting one-on-one with somebody else at the time). What was the conclusion? Anyway it's always good to have some map printouts spread over the table. Alex brought some along to discuss buildings coverage, including an interesting one highlighting those buildings which have not been touched, and are presumably of a low accuracy, since bing imagery superseded yahoo's.
Things did quieten down. In fact towards closing time we suddenly had the place to ourselves and had a good intense brainstorming session on the topic of OpenStreetMap events in London. How to attract new folks to our pub meet-ups? I think the overriding conclusion was that we need to try mix things up with some different event formats. We need to do presentations and mini-OSM-conferences. We need to do things at the weekends sometimes. We need to have training/workshop sessions for new editors, as well as more technical developer events. Or we need to just meet in cafes and libraries instead of pubs on occasions.
I've certainly pondered these things plenty, but I've rarely deviated from the tried and tested pub formula. I feel like other things would require at least two or three people to say "I'm in" much more positively. Other types of events tend to require some more complex logistics. The venue in particular. I always thought the easiest way to achieve the same thing, would be to piggy-back on other people's events. There's certainly enough generic tech meet-ups, hack events & presentation events etc in London that we can go along to and hijack for our own purposes. So I've tried to post some of these as listed OSMLondon events (the one's I'm thinking of going to myself) but generally with limited buy-in from everyone else.
But perhaps this summer we will experiment a little more. I've already broken the mould a little bit by setting up a wiki page called "London/Summer 2012 events". That's right! This summer it's not a "Mapping party marathon". It's a set of hopefully varying types of event.
Now obviously I should have set up a pub meet-up for the "end of the winter", but license change shenanigans and various other announcements have created a disturbance in the force and my powers have been weakened... and right now I'm on holiday in Brazil! I'm getting a good summery feeling right now (too hot!) but this means that the London summer events 2012 will have to be kicked off by somebody else. How about it OSMlondoners?
Last time we had a pub meet-up at the blue posts, where we got a table in the very quiet upstairs area. All the better for map chat.
Martin from cyclestreets was there. He showed us a couple of exciting cyclestreets initiatives. They've funded the development of (hired Andy Allan to create) a feature of Potlatch 2 for merging in tags from a vector dataset. This should be generically useable for a range of "community import" type activities (having a parallel dataset as a source and selectively bringing in data to OpenStreetMap) but the work was specifically aimed at letting us use a cycling dataset from the DfT and to bring in extra tags giving things like the widths of cycle lanes. Clearly this is not data we can just automatically import (the approach some folks will all too quickly reach for). This P2 feature lets us be more careful and selective, blending new information with our locally gathered data.The data is shown as a seperate layer with geometries appearing as very wide lines which can be selected.
Martin also showed us a new brochure they had been working on which looked pretty cool. It had a cycling slant in some of the introductary pages, and a Scotland slant too, but mostly (as intended) it will work well as generic OpenStreetMap promotion leading into beginner documentation on how to contribute to OpenStreetMap, with some nice real-world photographic examples.
We talked about some upcoming syadmin challenges. The current database server 'smaug' has developed some faults. This coupled with some other considerations, will mean we need to move the main database onto the new server. Moving the data across is a bit tricky. The only safe way to do it will be to put things in read only mode for a period of a few days while the data is copied across as a pgdump piped across to the other server. I wondered whether there might be any way of avoiding the read-only period, but there isn't really. The problem is the database is not just the geodata. It's users and sessions and things like this. We'd also want to be moving to a later postgres version. It won't be possible to ask the two machines to do "clustering" because of the version mismatch. There will soon be some announcements about downtime for this work (By the way, this is me "backseat sysadmining". I actually have no idea about this stuff and I'm glad it's not me doing it. For details you'd have to ask the sysadmins)
They were having some downtime in the kitchen of this Blue Posts that night, so we had to make alternative food plans. Even though Matt wasn't there we went for Burritos, so I made sure I got some juicey burrito photos to taunt Matt with:
Over burritos we got the rather excellent news that Foursquare did a switch2osm!. Foursquare are big. 15 million users. And although they only switched their website, not their apps (which many users experience foursquare through most of the time), that's still a great boost to the number of users seeing our maps. That's what we do it for! They're using a MapBox tile server, so presumably this will pick-up changes and re-render. The custom map style does of course not show any OpenStreetMap POI data, that's where things would get a bit confusing for all those foursquare users who are busy building and maintaining Foursquare's closed database of "check-in venues". We can hope though, that some small percentage of foursquare users will look into contributing to OpenStreetMap as a result of this switch. Great news!
All of this spurred another discussion about Google Map Maker and features for fixing google's POI locations (in the UK there are features to do this, but not going by the "Map Maker" name). Some of those eating burritos had experimented with google map making (traitors!) and wondered how the verification works (and why bother) when some contributions are based on local knowledge, with nothing in the aerial imagery to back them up. Also they noticed variations in the the length of time it took to have changes verified from a couple of months to just a couple of days, perhaps depending on some trust metrics, or perhaps whenever the indian map maker minions get around to it. Google have a lot of paid indians doing map maker moderation. They also have a lot of unpaid indians contributing to their closed google-owned data. Google should use OpenStreetMap. All the unpaid Indians definately should. switch2osm!
Here's a future pub discussion we should have: Alex has put forward a plan for an armchair mapping initiative related to building outlines in central London. OSMLondoners please have a read and comment. Obviously this leads into the broader discussion of "armchair mapping" in general. I recently tried to lay out a wiki page on 'armchair mapping'. At the moment I've heard strong criticism from pro-armchair mappers who say this is too negative. But I beleive it to be a sensible set of guidelines and an even reflection of some opposing viewpoints on the matter. Tell me what you think on the 'Talk' page there. But how does all of this apply to the London building outlines idea? A good one to chat about over some beers perhaps.
And speaking of building outlines some people are getting itchy mapping feet as the daylight is coming back in the evenings now. I didn't pick a pub near a massive amount of mapping, but there is a sprinkling of data which needs re-mapping in this area (bad map OSMI) Quite a few building outlines among other things. This is fortuitously located around the neighbourhood of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. Join us back in those cosy caverns on Thursday! All the details on the wiki page.
The London OpenStreetMap pub meet-up is such a recent event it didn't happen yet! but it will happen TONIGHT. Now let's work backwards through some other London geo-goings-on in reverse chronological order:
Agi geodrinks were good. AGI events tend to be a great opportunity for mingling with geo industry folks, many of whome are interested in learning more about OpenStreetMap and perhaps even doing some geo-business. Andy Allan and I were there trying to do this, but mostly we accidentally ended up talking about OpenStreetMap between ourselves as usual. Good fun though. We did get chatting to someone who had a inflatable globe, and also with Nick Austin about a possible OSM event run by/for Swindon Council. More details on that soon hopefully.
I also went along to a MySociety pubmeet last Wednesday. I had intended to swing by very briefly to see what was going on, but ended up staying around for lots of fun and interesting conversations. Some of this was around open transport data which mysociety has an interest in for FixMyTransport, and I have an interest in for my work at placr.co.uk, but I also got chatting with Tom Steinberg about various OpenStreetMap things, and about ways of appealing to non-techy mainstream audiences by offering the kind of stripped down simple UX which MySociety is good at. He suggested an app which allowed map users to "say thanks" to mappers in a particular area. Nice idea. In general I'd say there should be better social interaction features and better, less obscure, ways of discovering who's been active in an area. Yes all of the ways listed here are obscure. I also chatted about an old MySociety project called GroupsNearMe, which I used to like. It had a interesting mapping element, but they've mothballed that project.
But the daddy of all geo-goings-on was #geomob! We enjoyed three OpenStreetMap themed talks this time, and even the talk which wasn't OpenStreetMap themed (DoomsdayMap project), made mention of OpenStreetMap. Now that's what I call geodomination! Ed Freyfogle spoke about Nestoria switching to OpenStreetMap. He had an amusing web analytics graph showing the spike in interest that this blog post attracted back in December. Quite a story, and it triggered the whole switch2osm thing.
Off the back of this talk it was very appropriate for Matt to talk about his work at MapQuest, on architecting their tile servers to scale for massive tile traffic while still bringing in minutely updates from OpenStreetMap. Not an easy thing. The approach involves bundling up mapnik, webserver, tile queueing/caching system to run on one machine template which can then be duplicated to scale sideways, but then caching and queueing gets shared across the cluster so... all a bit complicated. If you have many servers to try this kind of thing out on (??), you'll be interested to know that Matt published their rendering stack as open source.
Benedikt Groß & Bertrand Clerc gave a talk about their weird and whacky project to warp the London map (OpenStreetMap of course) to align with people's perceptions, and more recently to align with the tube map schematic layout. Their blog post explains some more including some nice animations of the warp, but mostly I'd recommend zooming in on the slippy map view. Quite fascinating in the bits of London you know (or thought you knew). My favourite example is around Queensway where I used to live.
The road called Queensway confusingly has two tube stations on it, Queensway and Bayswater, spaced a long way apart on the tube map (on different tube lines) but in reality very close, hence we see intensely stretched streets between the two stations here. As you can see the street names such as Queensway itself are still clearly rendered. This is not rubber-sheeted raster images. The map data is OpenStreetMap warped while in vector form and then rendered with Maperative. Cool!
So lots of geo OSM niceness recently, and there's more to come! Last week I decided to give up twitter for lent. This includes tweeting from @OSMLondon. Derick is in charge of those for the moment. I'm not even allowing myself to view them, but I'm sure he'll be glad of any suggestions for things to tweet about. I'll be maintaining the list of events on the wiki, and look! There's a pub meet-up TONIGHT. Join us in the Blue posts from 7p.m.
Last week we had a pub meet-up in Holborn shortly followed by a real mapping party involving real mapping, over in Weybridge
In the pub we had another bumper turnout, including quite a few new faces, which is what we like to see. Maybe spacing out the events to every three weeks makes for a more popular gathering, or maybe 2012 is going to be a year for big London gatherings (let's hope so!) ...or maybe everyone secretly loves the cheapo prices of wetherspoons.
We had along @MathieuLoutre who is working on a 3D game engine, experimenting with the buildings data in London. Looks pretty nice (another pic here) and he says he'll be open sourcing his code for that. Makes all that building mapping worthwhile heh? Mind you we'll need to add some building:levels data in London to make 3D stuff work really well (He's randomised the building heights slightly here to get reasonable effect)
We talked about Derick's awesome year of edits 2011 video which has been played 10,000 times now! He's interested now in doing some animation experiments building on the style of the Brighton mapping party video he made
There were many other topics of discussion including a funny "old farts" conversation with me, Andy, and Matt late at night after everyone else had left.
I'll tell you what else we talked about just as soon as I've found that peice of paper again!
And the Weybridge mapping party? Also awesome, but it was a good reminder of why we don't generally do mapping parties at this time of year. I gave up mapping when I couldn't feel my toes any more.
It was surprisingly well attended by OSMLondon folks considering it's quite a long train ride out (more people than shown in the above photo). I think we're all keen to try to make some progress with the massive patch of red in Southwest London. We've blown a nice hole it now but still plenty more work to be done. It's upsetting to me that User:80n was never persuaded to accept the license change, and now effectively seeks to damage OpenStreetMap. He ran the first mapping parties that I ever attended, and back in those days he really showed the way when it came to mapping dedication. He pretty much invented OSM mapping. Ah well.
I have some more photos including an attempt at some (cold) sunshine mapping action shots. Coming soon.
Geomob is tonight! I'm going to be late in fact. If you're in the area (Gower Street) come along. It's going to be extra OpenStreetMappy this time, with three different talks on OSM topics!
...and look! There's a little OpenStreetMap image showing where the event venue is. This came about as a rather awesomely speedily pro-active response by lanyrd to my cheeky tweet this week. It's not a big switch to OSM. In fact it's quite a minor switch, only showing OpenStreetMap in place of boring old google maps if the a topic of 'OpenStreetMap' is set on an event. But this is some kind of milestone. Of all the websites I've tried using to pimp OSM London events on over the years... we finally have one which doesn't show/link the wrong map alongside our event! (It's literally been annoying me for years)
So yes. We'll be at the Penderel's Oak on Thursday, and having said all that, the OpenStreetMap wiki page is still the best place for directions to find us at the pub, and read all about what the event is (it's not complicated) So link people to that if you know anyone who might like to come along on Thursday.
Last time we were at the Monkey Puzzle and had a couple of new faces, Andy and Tom, who sat next to Andy and Tom in the pub to create some kind of crazy alternating Andy Tom situation. One of them... either Andy or Tom I can't remember... was telling me about his site Londinium.com which is a London related website directory, and we chatted about how OpenStreetMap could be mixed in to this e.g. using our data on POIs with 'website' tags.
Great to have Paul The Archivist along too. I met him at WhereCampUK in Nottingham a while back.
Of course we also had the mighty Richard Fairhurst along. Creator of Potlatch, and currently serving on the OSM foundation board. He was in town for a canal-related event, and I pictured him clambering out of canal barge in Paddington basin after an scenic journey along the great Charlbury to London canal, before joining us in the pub, but I'm not sure if that's quite what happened.
Overall we had a pretty stonking turn-out, and had to do some amusing chair swapping so we could all have a turn at eating our meal at the table!
We had some pretty interesting discussions about organisational structure of the OSMF, and particularly job titles such as "chairman" within in the board.
We talked about Andy's little scheme to sell SD cards containing OpenCycleMap maps for garmin. Currently he has to faff around a lot with envelopes and physically posting them to people. It's just a fun little side-line for him at the moment, but I'd love to see these in every outdoor shop alongside the other maps and gadgets they always stock. We were talking about how he could do some sort of distribution deal, or just find someone to help him with "retail packaging".
We talked about the remapping. In London the bad map is looking a lot more clear nowadays, particularly after Ed Avis accepted (although I was secretly looking forward to deleting a lot of his low quality contributions in my neighbourhood, but I suppose his acceptance is good news) But there is some important data such as tube stations which are very old, and so are tending to be contaminated with non-CT-accepter edits. We should probably make sure those don't disappear! Contact and re-map!
If all that map-chat sounds like fun, or if you'd like to have some other techie-talk conversations with OpenStreetMap folks, or if you'd like come along as a newbie and learn some basics about OpenStreetMap, the pub is a great place to do these things! See you in the Penderel's Oak Holborn on thursday!
I normally blog about the previous OpenStreetMap London pub meet-up, before announcing the next one here, but due to an intense time at work at the moment this process has gone right out the window. That's a bit of a shame because the previous meet-up was a corker... Apologies. I will get to it. But in the meantime, OSMLondoners, a couple of other events:
Tonight! Open Knowledge Foundation Event - It's a get together for all things Open Data. Given my OpenStreetMap and placr.co.uk open data campaigning connections, it seemed rude not to go along. In fact if anyone else would like to help me represent OpenStreetMap. Please come along!
This Wednesday! - Royal Hollow University Mapping Event. Dr. Patrick Weber is hoping to repeat some of the sucesses of previous mapping workshop events at UCL. They need volunteers! Anyone who knows how to do OpenStreetMap mapping can help, but he does need people during the working day, and the university campus is out near Egham. Interesting spot actually. Please reply to Patrick if you are available to help with this. I'm sure he'd most grateful.
That's it for the short term things. As I say, we need to get another OSM pub meet-up happening some time very soon too. Also on the not-too-distant horizon are these events:
dev8d workshop - Wed Feb 15th - dev8d is a three day conference for developers in the education. They'd like to run a workshop on OpenStreetMap use, possibly on the Wednesday. Details to be finalised
geomob - Thu Feb 16th - This one will surely feature some OpenStreetMap in the actual presentations, with Matt talking about MapQuest stuff, and Ed Freyfogle of nestoria. Looks like there's more than the usual number of London OSMers in attendance too.
AGI geodrinks - Feb 23rd - Geo industry folks (and some OpenStreetMap trouble-makers).
The event this Wednesday is particularly short notice because I only just got around to reading about it. Sorry about that. Otherwise I am normally quite good about slapping things on the London wiki events list... and of course follow @OSMLondon on twitter
Phewee. I was expecting to have a long quiet somewhat boring christmas back home in Yorkshire, during which I would surely get time to do lots of OpenStreetMap things I've been putting off. It didn't really turn out that way. It was quite a busy house, with 11 people back home at one point. Siblings invited partners and other guests, and the crowdedness contributions following a long tail distribution with me comfortably in the high-to-middle-ground. :-)
Some things I did manage to do:
- Talked to folks from the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport & Tourism. This was just before my holidays. They came to visit me in my office. Amusingly they were fresh off the train from visiting Ordnance Survey down in Southampton. Before they arrived I mashed together several of my slide decks to produce an updated general OpenStreetMap deck covering various angles. I ran through that with a translator, and they gave me japanese presents!
- A bit of asking users to accept the ODbL. I fired off just a couple of emails to local contributors in West Yorkshire, customising the message to refer to their contributions.
- Remote mapping of Nagpur, India (map). Added a few more missing roads from bing, but I kept getting distracted by rivers. Lots of beautiful big rivers to sketch in in India. My mum's off on a trip to Nagpur for two months, so I thought I'd try to improve the map there a bit. My plan was to load maps onto her new kindle, but didn't actually get as far as figuring out the best way to get them on there
- I finished writing my chapter (about OpenStreetMap) for a book which I'll tell you more about some other time. I also roped the whole family into proof-reading. Still some illustration and formatting (and learning LaTeX) work to do on that
- And of course blogging: fund-raiser target reached! Hurrah! It was my pleasure to do this on Christmas day.
So that was my Mappy Christmas, but wait... what about the OpenStreetMap Christmas Party?
We went to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub. I found Tim Waters (visiting from Leeds) down in the deepest level, two storeys down. We joked that maybe they were working on excavating the floor below to extend the pub downwards. This pub is nice and cosy in medieval sort of way, even in the lowest stone cavern. It was weirdly crowded on a Saturday at 4pm, perhaps because it makes a fine shelter from bleak weather and the christmas shopping mayhem.
In any case the switch by nestoria is great news, and made more so by the blog write-up which Ed did: Why (and how) we've switched away from Google Maps which then got picked up by various news outlets such as forbes, technologyreview.com, and techdirt. In the Communications Working Group we've been pondering how to get OpenStreetMap better recognised in the press (suggestions welcome), but you can't force these things. An occurrence such as the nestoria switch is often the trigger, which prompts journalists to take a surprised look at how awesome OpenStreetMap is.
As you can see in the photos, later on Derick provided christmas biscuits! And we even got a table eventually.
Speaking of Derick... he's been busy with a mappy christmas himself. If you didn't already see his gorgeous video: 'OpenStreetMap: A Year of Edits 2011'... check... it... out... preferably in full screen, and preferably with the music.
It's similar but a little different to the ITO world year of edits 2008. One key difference though: made entirely out of free and open source software! Details from Derick about how the video was made, on his blog.
I feel all fired up for an OpenStreetMappy 2012! So how about another pub meet-up? We'll kick off for the year next week on Thursday 12th at the Monkey Puzzle: All the details. We're expecting a rare appearance of the water-dwelling Richard F. Join us!
A couple of weeks ago we had a small pub meet-up. It was sandwiched between various other events and at this time of year everyone seems to be ultra busy, hence the smallness.
But Gregory Marler was there! He was down from durhamsestershire and taking in the OSMLondon pub meet-up as well as the London Mapping Festival event the next day.
But anyway... In the Mulberry Bush pub I had time to chat for a little while, but then I had to head home to take part in a Management Team conference call. At least that was my plan, but I got home and it turned out that I'd got the timings mixed up. I had missed it two hours earlier. Andy however had been at home on the management team conf call at the right time, and then cycled to the pub, by which time, because there weren't many people around and even *I* had left, everyone had already decided to go their separate ways. D'oh! Having screwed all that up, late that evening I also screwed up the timing of the HOT chat, causing some people to meet and have a chat two hours earlier than everyone else. All said and done, not a good day for Harry time-keeping.
There'll be no such slip-ups tomorrow because I have no conference calls or meetings at the same time. No no. Tomorrow I shall dedicate myself to the OSM pub. Well after all, it is the OpenStreetMap Christmas Party!!!!1!!.
As mentioned previously, I have been too busy to promote this much, so everyone else has been promoting it for me right? ....right? Sign up on lanyrd to show your love... or don't bother (It's not required). I'm looking forward to it. How come we haven't been to the Old Cheshire cheese in a while? It's an awesome pub. Should make a nice venue for cosy mappy christmas meet-up. I'll be there from 4p.m. onwards. Did I mention this is tomorrow!?
Recently I've managed to catch two colds in row. How does that happen? Where's my immune system? At work I have one of those projects involving creating a whole new thing with a whole new technology to learn, which must be finished yesterday. Sometimes these things are fun, but I can't get it to work. Stress! Against this backdrop... there's quite a lot going on with OpenStreetMap, and there's a few things I could use some help on.
We kicked off the fund-raising drive. The idea originated from the Operations Working Group, and bounced around the Management Team and the board, but it seemed like it was down to the Communications Working Group to mould the idea into a co-ordinated announcement, description and kick-off date. I worked hard to try and do these things "in consultation" with everybody, which always makes things harder. The end of this somewhat painful process was a blog post. I'm pretty happy with that. Not sure how everyone else feels.
But Having done that, there's obviously lots of work to do in promotion and "putting the message out there". Please don't assume that the Communications Working Group is handling of all of this. We have a few ideas, but CWG is a small collection of overstretched people like me. We need the community to go forth and promote! There's a few simple things you can do, e.g. share the message on facebook, and on google+. vote it up on reddit. retweet on twitter. But to help escape from the echo-chambre of OpenStreetMap social circles, go forth onto other forums, write blog comments. Link people back to the blog post on OSMF there! If you have any good channels for achieving big bang promotion, feel free to go ahead and do it. If you're unsure and would like to discuss/consult with CWG, feel free to do that too. The message is essentially as written on the blog there.
I know this stuff happens anyway in our awesome community, and look! The totaliser is about to hit half way! This is mostly from the generosity of individuals. We haven't (yet) received any big donations from supporting companies/organisations, just lots of little contributions from all the many people who support us. Quite fitting really for a project like ours.
The OpenStreetMap christmas party is another thing I need some promotional help with.
All the details are on the wiki now, but I haven't had the time to push the idea. It would be great if people in London would sign up in advance for our meet-up (on lanyrd), to show what a massive event it surely will be! and for people outside London to make travel plans. We can help with accommodation plans too if you like. ...and more importantly, it would be great if OSMers elsewhere in the world (and elsewhere in the UK) would get together around the same date for a big bash worldwide. Let's make it a Mappy Christmas!
...I'll sure as hell need a drink by then :-)