On Tuesday we had a London mapping evening which, coming straight after the bank holiday, seemed to take everyone by surprise. Perhaps this was because I made the cake diagram and sign up list not very far in advance, so I'll do better next time:
Sign up now for the Waterloo / South bank mapping party. Cake diagram available already!
That's on Wednesday 15th. Ages away! But if you are approximately possibly maybe able to come, add you name to the list, and this will spur more people to join in. I'll try to put the message out to various event listings and other organisations, but as ever, if you have ideas for this please go ahead and help promote the meet-up.
On Tuesday I think we had 7 of us including a couple of new people. I was chatting to User:Kachkaev...
...who is studying in London for a few months, over from Russia. The city of Penza to be precise (or Пенза). He told us about mapping there, and also an interesting case of mutually beneficial government data donations to OpenStreetMap in this city, the name of which he wrote down for me. We then immediately realised that I wouldn't know how to type it "Рыбинск". Luckily he got back to me with name:en for this one. "Rybinsk". node:148899210.
That brings me onto something else we were chatting about. Links to the "browse" interface. OpenStreetMap has a valuable database of streetnames and also businesses. This could easily power a web listing catalogue of such things which would probably garner some good google rankings. Now the "browse" interface is the closest thing we have to this. Alex was comparing this with wikimapia permalinkable objects. But in fact, far from aiming for SEO on our browse interface, we're currently disallowing the google bots for performance reasons (some of the browse pages are very expensive to serve) This might be a missed opportunity for us to attract more visitors to the project. Could be an area worth tackling, perhaps with a seperate interface.
Boris bike cycle hire points mapping has progressed very well, largely thanks to Firefishy. Looks like user:marl has been busy with them too. Although the locations have been released as open data, we're collecting them the OSM way, with on-the-ground surveying. Its entirely plausible that this will yield more accurate data than the official set. Firefishy was saying that the official data even appeared to have an erroneous fake station at Tower Bridge. At the current time we still have some missing though. A patch down in Lambeth.
We chatted about a few other things. At the other end of the table there was lots of tile rendering talk. I was quizzing gravitystorm about Mapnik and MML files, which I noticed a few people sharing recently on this StyleShare page. It's a type of stylesheet. I was wondering about the awkward cross-dependency between mapnik stylesheets and osm2pgsql config. Does this make these stlye files less portable? I wish I knew more about it, but I still need to get off my arse and have a proper play with this stuff. Mapnik development work is ongoing, and I know a lot of this is making the technology easier. I see there's a Mapnik Code Sprint coming up 26th September.
Last week I was on a conference call, with four of us aiming to kick start a "Communications Working Group". First job is to decide a definition and scope of the group. No decisions taken on that so far. Nothing to communicate. I was mentioning this to TomH, who was interested because I think he's keen to know how decision making might progress with regards to the eternal debate on Front Page Design, but it's not clear whether that would be in scope or not at this stage (I'm kind of hoping it wont be. Too much agro) I find conference calls to be a difficult way to achieve things, which I suppose is quite ironic, but hopefully we will.
All of this was chatted about over beers. If you fancy some of that, get yourself signed up for the Wednesday 15th! We'll be at the good old Mulberry Bush near Waterloo.