After the failure of Apple to produce a usable map within the latest iOS 6 upgrade, there has been a lot of chatter about mapping on the main tech blogs and websites, I have been using the opportunity to try and spread the word about OSM, but I have been running up against the same argument against it repeatedly:
OpenStreetMap is too cluttered they say, too many colours too much going on...
I have responded with the usual answer to such questions, i.e the map on OpenStreetMap.org is not what OSM is about, it is about the data, how that data is displayed is up to the people involved.
But the public perception seems to be that OSM IS the slippy map on the main website, and that map is severely lacking in both the clarity, beauty and usability that people desire.
They have a point. The main slippy map is good as displaying everything, to the detriment of the above mentioned. I firmly believe OSM is getting to a stage where is it on a par, and even superior to what Navteq and Tele Atlas can provide, but I cant help but feel OSM is shooting itself in the foot with what is provided on the main website, which is what people seem to identify as what OpenStreetMap is... however wrong that may be.
Are there any plans to update the main map to be more user friendly? I recognise the need for a map that displays everything for contributors, but maybe the time has come for a map that is both appealing and usable for the general public and a separate layer for OSM contributors? There has been excellent work done by the likes of Skobbler and we have all seen what can be done with the data to make visually appealing maps... but I cannot help but feel the main Mapnik map is losing us both general users and contributors.
Lastly I mean no offence to any of the hard working people that have worked on the Mapnik renderer or the style sheets for this website.