The charm of SotM

Posted by Austin Zhu on 3 August 2018 in English (English). Last updated on 18 May 2020.

It’s always something hard to describe when philosophical things bump into your mind. And it even gets more sophisticated when you start to meditate.

A week ago, when I first stepped onto the soil of Milan along with curiosity and anxiety, I felt lonely. I walked aimlessly on the plaza under the glorious shine reflected by the Duomo and wandered around the Sforzesco Castle: everything just looks so different.

However, the loneliness didn’t last long. At the moment I entered the campus that morning, I met my wonderland. I felt so excited to see so many people from different backgrounds gathering together, talking about their experiences with OpenStreetMap. I was deeply impressed by the opening session which transmitted envisions towards the application and development of OpenStreetMap.

I listened to a variety of talks during the three days. I learnt creativity from that emoji map. I learnt the need and difficulty to transform the basic data structure. I learnt new methods to make AOIs. I learnt the efforts to maintain and grow a local community. And others too…

I’m not going to elaborate things and thoughts about talks, workshops or lightning talks much here because beyond the knowledge and technologies that I learnt from those wonderful talks, I would like to focus on more important discovery in this dairy. It helped shape my cognitive values, and will benefit me a lot in my future study and daily life.

People who travelled a lot always tell me how different the outside world is. But they merely views the scenery and feel the culture, they hardly exchange thoughts with other people. This world is about people, people who have great minds and unique stories to be told.

At the social event, I got to know many people through the introduction by Mr. Miura. It was wonderful to perceive the atmosphere of diversity. It’s something hard to describe because in my country there is few such diversity. Most people are egocentric, they like to consider things from their perspective. Therefore, it’s hard for them to adjust to a globalizing world. It’s this diversity that taught me to think from a global perspective when mapping and learning. I will take more into consideration when encounter disputes or disagreement.

It’s diversity. It’s unity. People there all have passion towards OpenStreetMap. I felt I was in a big group when I attended the conference. We have things to share and discuss with each other. Although our opinions may differ, we are united at the State of the Map. It’s really amazing when you see unity through diversity. I think that’s the essence of human society as well as the charm of OpenStreetMap.

Among all the conversations I made with others, I absorbed a lot from scholars. They are lovely people who contributed much to OSM in various ways. I really admire their achievements and their enthusiasm. I also had a nice time with many great people, whose wisdom and humor that I will never forget. All these motivated me to become smarter, and contribute more and better to the whole OpenStreetMap community.

There’s a bunch of gaps remaining to be filled. In my country, for some reason we could not have an official community but only chat groups serve to connect mappers. Nevertheless, I will still maintain the current condition and seek opportunities to foster the community. In addition, I will continue to spread the spirit of OSMers to more people who love mapping and explore more possibilities to utilize OpenStreetMap.

Finally, I want to thank Rob and Dorothea and many other diligent people who made this happen. I really enjoyed this year’s SotM!

Hope to see you again in Heidelberg next year! May OpenStreetMap prosper and thrive!


Austin Zhu

2018.8.3 in China

Comment from arnalielsewhere on 4 August 2018 at 13:32

Nice to meet you, Austin! This is insightful! :)

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