Earlier this month OpenStreetMap(OSM) had it’s annual conference titled State of the Map in Denver, Colorado. To allow for adapting to the mile-high altitude (and perhaps the pre-conf pub trip the night before), the conference got off to a gentle but steady start. Richard Weait gave a keynote titled “Be a Mapper” on the topic of being more than just contributors, consumers, or alayisers of the rich data. We were encouraged to be a part of the community on which OpenStreetMap has grown and by which it is powered. Richard told how attending a local OSM meetup, or organising one, can be really beneficial to everyone who gets involved. Later in the day he chaired a panel “Meet the Mappers” where we got a chance to question example mappers who had a spectrum of local activitiy. The keynote was along similar lines of Professor Muki Haklay’s talk at the European State of the Map in July. Muki told the academic delegates to communicate with the general community and local users. Communinity participation being very important to do before, and while, you perform a study involving data, or teach your students how to add to the interconnected map data.
Other talks on Friday revolved around new apps and products making use of OpenStreetMap data, with various monetization plans, something everyone’s getting used to. After a day that felt more like a reunion than a conference, we went and continued strengthening the community by watching a baseball game. The home team, Colorado Rockies, may have lost, but it was a good social event with a welcome to the conference delegates displayed on the stadium’s screen, and I sat in the row of blue seats exactly a mile above sea level (though my GPS disagreed).
Saturday begun with Steve Coast, the OSM founder, having much to say. He was instructed to hurry-up, but still wanted to spend a lot of time giving a good mention to the G3 research on Potlatch usability. Talking to Steve, he doesn’t seem to understand the scary images he used in his slides aren’t actually the eye tracking equipment that gets used. On sunday, an informal meeting to discuss redesigning the OSM website again mentioned Peter Webber and Muki Haklay and the usefulness of statistics and evaluations from their equipment.
Peter Batty gave theother keynote, and had some wondeful slides on OSM’s past present and future. In a talk about the changes in Japan Goolge Maps was thanked for being useful as a historical map. Despite the usual and expected visa troubles, 7 out of the 8 scholors funded by HOT made it to the conference and presented talks from: Tunisia, India, Georgia, Colombia, Haiti, Philippines, and Argentina.
Philippe Rieffel provoked thought with his work designing a map for children using quotes such as “why is this road yellow on the map when I can see it is grey?”.
The programme of talks is available on the OSM wiki. I think all have audio & slide recordings, some have videos which include the speaker(s). Do have a listen to some, but it’s much more fun to come to the conference next year and be part of the community.
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