My OSM Story

Posted by LindyT on 12 February 2018 in English (English)

I have had this account since 2015. Why so few edits in comparison?

I first heard about OSM from my geography advisor in 2015, so I created an account to see what it was. I went to an event to support aid efforts in Nepal. Then I left it alone for a year.

In 2016 I heard about State of the Map US, where I was formally introduced to OpenStreetMap. It was in Seattle near where I went to school, and I took the opportunity to volunteer. The first night I went to a social where the whiteboard said "Women in Technology" and the feeling was eerie. I wasn't in the Dept. of Engineering at UW, nor was I conditioned to see myself as a STEM major. I talked to the other women there and I was intimidated, to say the least. I spent the conference with an open mind. I managed some of the interactions on the SOTM-US Twitter account as part of my volunteer gig. Mostly I just listened and learned.

The following autumn I changed my geography track to GIS. I wanted to know more about it. There I was, building on GIS I had learned the previous year, finding my path, and designing projects of significance to me. I was finally one of those career woman who spent all night coding and lived on Starbucks. And that was all I could ever want. I was using OpenStreetMap's data for more of my projects. One in particular, I had to find accessible walkways on my campus and OSM had the best terrain maps for those. Still, I wasn't making edits like I should, and I wasn't getting involved out of intimidation.

When I won a scholarship to the next conference by writing about how I utilized OSM, I knew I had to get involved. I talked to more and more people, then I took the plunge and actually started editing on my own. It was great! I was contributing to a program I knew everything about!

Moral of the story: don't let your own imposter syndrome keep you from trying things out. You can know everything in theory, but the application is most important.

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