Thank you to all who replied last week. I still have more questions (below)...
First, some of my reflections on the Manchester mapping party that ran over the weekend.I have now been out with a (borrowed)GPS and made a minor contribution to the map. I took a lot of photos as I wandered round what I now realise wasn't a particularly large part of a network of paths within a park, not really sure as I started out what was worth capturing and what might/not make a valid contribution to the map. So I tried to note everything: signposts, cafe's, (permanent)ice cream stand, phonebox, CCTV cameras, animal enclosures/pens within a farm area, open spaces, children's playground, a tunnel, small bridges crossing back and forth over a stream, historic buildings/ Blue Plaques (English Heritage)etc. And then my camera battery ran out, so I had to stop taking photos and start writing notes and taking waypoints. When I returned to the mapping party base, and watched the event organiser re-draw over the tracks, it was fairly satisfying to watch a blank space get filled in, albeit only a small amount.
The main difference in my mapping technique/ practice from that of many (perhaps the majority of?) people, as far as I can tell from the responses I have had via this diary, is that I did not go out mapping alone. I went out in a group of three. Two friends of mine from the University (one male, one female) and I (female) walked around the park together, each with a GPS, walking (for the most part) together and reflecting on the mapping activity and our surroundings as we went along.
So, as a result, we generated three, near identical tracks, with two of us taking the same or similar waypoints. What exactly was the point of this doubling, or tripling up of GPS tracks? Surely a waste of valuable mapping time that could have been spent covering a larger area of the park? Would that not have been a more productive use of our afternoon?
Well, I would suggest that to an extent, yes, perhaps if we had split up and covered a larger area the map may have grown in terms of geographical area covered. But would we have had such an enjoyable day out by ourselves without each other's company; chatting about the OSM project and Map; what to include and what to leave out, why to include it, and who includes what? And we didn't just talk about OSM, we talked about anything that came up in conversation, and stopped for about an hour to have lunch in one of the park cafes.
So here is my question:
This approach seems to differ substantially from the 'form of mapping' that most OSMers / mapping parties adopt (as Richard suggested in response to my last post). Surely this more sociable form of mapping (and by this I mean actually going out mapping together, not just sitting in the pub talking about mapping practice over a beer afterwards) would attract a more diverse crowd along to mapping parties and the OSM project? It would help break down some of the barriers to entry - for example, you probably wouldn't take a child under the age of four or five (or younger still, as evidenced at the Manchester weekend) into a pub in Manchester city centre on a Saturday evening, but you would attend during the day if you knew other families would turn up. And ultimately, will the project not need to encourage a more diverse mix of people in terms of gender and age etc to serve its own interest and continue to exist and update, allowing OSM to perpetuate indefinitely?