[OSM-talk] A glossary for terms
colin.mackay at gmail.com
Tue Feb 28 12:37:02 GMT 2006
I'm hoping that the set up of a glossary of terms would help so that
newcomers to the project, such as myself, can get up to speed quickly. While
I have a wholes set vocabulary of my own for describing things here I
wouldn't want to impose something that already has a clear definition. If it
doesn't have a clear definition I'd like to get a consensus on something so
we can disambiguate any existing terms that are in use without a clean
meaning so that communication works well.
For background, I was born in 1974. I started programming in 1983 at the age
of 8 on a ZX Spectrum. My final year project at University was writing an
Object Oriented GIS system in C++ (The functionality at the project
completion was the display of background raster maps, OS data + data from an
ODBC data source, so long as it had X & Y columns, and some basic spatial
functions like point-in-polygon). I then co-founded a GIS product company
called Sirius Seven Software (http://www.sirius7.com/) which still exists
even although I'm no longer involved with it. After that I spent some time
writing Magik for Smallworld systems around Europe. In 2003 I dropped out of
GIS and have been concentrating on traditional RDBMS systems since then. I
still maintain an interest in GIS software and data and I love maps.
I see great potential in this project. And I hope that it will become a
fantastic resource that will rival the Ordnance Survey data. (Perhaps I'm
slightly bitter that the company I formed went through some tough times and
had to let many people go - which is why I'm no longer involved. One of the
reasons was that in our youthful optimism we totally failed to see what a
high barrier to entry the cost of OS data would be to businesses. The
majority of the customer base was government organisations with their sweet
SLAs with the OS that no one else realistically had access to).
There are a number of things that I think I can bring to this project.
Enthusiasm, My love of map data; data modelling skills; software development
skills; and hopefully soon some actual GPS trails to add into the system.
So, that's my background. I hope I can be useful.
On 28/02/06, Lars Aronsson <lars at aronsson.se> wrote:
> Colin Mackay wrote:
> > As I take my first steps with this project it occurs to me that
> > in my few years away from GIS I'd forgotton just how much a lack
> > of consensus there was between different groups on the
> > definition of terms. What this means is that with some
> > terminology I am confused about the exact meaning.
> It's good to know that you've been writing GIS software, because
> most people here have not. Just like GIS was once a radical
> change in the world of cartography, we are now seeing a radical
> change in the world of GIS, with non-GIS people pouring in into
> open source projects such as Open Street Map. I'd say OSM is more
> of an open source (and wiki) project than a GIS project.
> It would be easy to ridicule the ignorant newcomers (Python kids,
> who never learnt Fortran) and say that they should listen to the
> old experts and respect their old consensus agreements. That's
> probably what happened to the GIS pioneers, who in the 1970s wrote
> books on how to make "lineprinter maps" (my local university
> library has several of those, great reading!). But nonetheless,
> both sides are here and both shape the future. Those who want to
> be listened to, had better speak the language of their (younger)
> target audience.
> Another GIS person, Kendall Sears, culture-clashed into this
> concrete wall of misunderstanding in December, as you can see from
> the list archives, and has been silent since then. I hope he is
> still lurking and that he'll recover and return.
> In August I heard a presentation of MapBender by Arnulf Christl at
> the Wikimania conference (for Wikipedia people) in Frankfurt,
> Germany, and I just shook my head in disbelief at the attitude
> among GIS people to embrace and play with proprietary GIS data,
> that was a silent assumption in his presentation. There is now
> free software for GIS, but there aren't any useful free GIS data,
> at least not outside the U.S.A., so the free software evangelists
> within the GIS community seem to just have given up about free
> Given this line-up, I think it's important to know where we are
> and where we come from.
> I was born in 1966, saw my first computer in 1982, learned Fortran
> in 1983, and C/UNIX in 1986. This is when I started to appreciate
> free software, by Richard Stallman's definition. I've been using
> the Internet since 1988 and Linux since 1992. In 1992 I started
> Project Runeberg (runeberg.org), a Scandinavian literature archive
> on the Internet. Inspired by, but frustrated with, Wikipedia, I
> started by own Swedish wiki (susning.nu) in 2001, which for some
> time was the world's 3rd largest wiki. Since 1996 I'm an
> independent consultant, specializing in large systems and
> performance tuning. I wrote my first prototype for an
> Internet-based (telnet) mapping application in 1991. A second
> WWW-based prototype from May 1994 is still online at
> (Who else has 12 year old web prototypes laying around?)
> When I found out about OSM in May 2005, it was a great "finally!"
> moment, to see people starting out from "free" to make free maps.
> Today's OSM still looks rather primitive, but it's actually
> producing something. If you remember Wikipedia in 2001 or the
> entire WWW in 1993, you understand that small things can grow big.
> My user page on the OSM wiki is
> Lars Aronsson (lars at aronsson.se)
> Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se
> talk mailing list
> talk at openstreetmap.org
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