Floodhack, OKFN maker night, Ye Olde Mitre

Posted by Harry Wood on 20 February 2014 in English (English)

There's a London OpenStreetMap pub meet-up TONIGHT!

I've changed that wiki page around a little bit. Before we had a separate events list for winter/summer event series of pubs/mapping marathons. This works OK for resulting in an archive table, and I've kept that page arrangement, but I've now "transcluded" the details onto the main London page. Saves me maintaing two different event lists, and now it's all always at , which seems like a good fixed location which new folks are more likely stumble upon. Feel free to edit, especially if you want to organise an event!

I've always tried to list various events which are not organised by OSMers and not focussed entirely on OpenStreetMap, but quite strongly related (geo or open data themes). Often OpenStreetMap can benefit from being represented at these events, or to look at it another way, we can piggy-back on these events and use them as hosting for our OpenStreetMap activities. Lately there's been lots of them.

There was a big "Floodhack" event happening last weekend. Lots of hackers coming together to help(?) with UK floods. I was asked by two different people to come along, and to help present H.O.T. style disaster response ideas there. I couldn't make it. I have too much wedding nonsense going on. So instead I wrote out some ideas on a UK Floods wiki page the night before. I tried to think of some specific hack ideas, but only a couple of things came to me, and not really anything helping with UK floods. In fact I sort of agree with Tom Morris that the problems are political and the hack event was some kind of dubious stunt, however hacking which informs political debate (points the finger) may be possible, or just hacks to help everyone understand floods. Here's an OpenStreetMap-based flood heatmap [UPDATE: SK53 points to another nice example. The copernicus emergency management service maps of the foods use OSM data]. As usual for every cool OpenStreetMap hack there's a handful of uncool google maps hacks. The slow death of the Google maps API is a little too slow for my liking. I would say another positive from the event is this: The environment agency, who released some data for the Floodhack event, has come under fire for not releasing enough data openly enough. There's a good write up of the ins and outs of that by Owen Boswarva

Earlier I gave a talk at a private conference event at Arup. That went well, and I got to reuse my slides shortly afterwards as I was asked to run, or help run, one of the Open Knowledge Foundation Open Data Maker nights. This landed on tube strike day, and wasn't massively well attended, but then again, ten or so people is a good sized group, making for more one-on-one idea sharing. I talked them through my OpenStreetMap developer ecosystem slides (newly updated). As open data wranglers they were keen see simple tools for building a map using CSV datasources. This is something google really caters well for with google fusion tables. They were impressed by the simplicity of UMap, but there were a few other tools and tricks I wasn't aware of. OKFN timemapper is powered by google spreadsheets containing timeline data. And this schoolofdata article shows how to use an ImportXML function in a google spreadsheet, to do nominatim geocoding. Cunning! So I learnt a few things myself. I was asked to do a repeat session again some time. Even when it's not an OpenStreetMap theme, Open Data Maker nights are a thing we could piggy-back on to do OSM hacking. In the meantime though, the "Open Data Day" event is an all-day hackathon at the same venue this coming Saturday. Can't make it myself. Too much wedding nonsense going on, but it seemed quite fun last year, and again we can piggy-back on the event and use it to our own advantage ...if people fancy going along.

But people just want to go to the pub right? :-) Last time we had a pub meet-up was at Ye Olde Mitre. Nice old pub which Matt suggested. Very small, and at first it looked like it would be hopelessly crowded. Lots of people standing outside, and the upstairs was booked for an function. But inside downstairs we got a table fairly easily. Maybe by fluke.

Grant took a "photo sphere" of the scene in the pub. Is that online somewhere? Well for now you'll have to make do with this photo of grant making the photo sphere.


We were talking about Grant's mission to go meet the guy who made the 20millionth edit. It made for a great little blog post I thought. Pretty cool that changeset number 20 million turned out to be a genuine new contributor doing something interesting in London, and not some bot spewing changesets.

We also had a fairly long conversation about fairly long street names, and their abbreviated forms. When it comes to abbreviations, as mappers we don't do it, but the reason for that, is that as data users we can do it. And perhaps OSM cartography should do a bit more abbreviating a bit more often. Old paper street atlases will tend to do a lot of abbreviations. See here for example. This cartography was originally designed for paper not the web. With web cartography I think people expect a bit more spacing, and will instinctively zoom in if they can't see the name of the street they're wanting, so we get away with being less clever about it, but on a few occasions when working on printable maps I've noticed that Mapnik renderings will drop an awful lot of street names which could (and for a printout, should) have been included. Font size is another variable which amounts to the same thing. Bigger fonts written on wider roads is better for printing, but means using less space for more information so we need abbreviations.

We talked about various other things. There was mention of a map called the "Uncles Guide To London", a map showing where to take your nieces/nephews on an exciting day out in London. So sort of like a tourist map, but with an interesting niche focus. Looks like interesting cartography there too. Naturally the question is, can we generate an uncles map from OpenStreetMap?

If you have a pro-active do-ocratic answer this question and others like it, then make plans to be at the London OpenStreetMap hack weekend in a couple of weeks (8th/9th March), where such ideas will be do-acratically pro-actively done. But for now perhaps you'd like to just chat about such crazy ideas over a beer or two. That's what the pub is all about!

Come along TONIGHT to the Mucky Pup near Angel from 7pm. All the details on the wiki

Location: Gray's Inn, London Borough of Camden, London, Greater London, England, WC1R 5HP, United Kingdom

Comment from Richard on 20 February 2014 at 11:43 abbreviates "Street" and "Road", and uses a condensed font for street names. But then I'm a "old paper street atlas" cartographer at heart!

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