[OSM-dev] Cloudmade routing for OSM rails_port site.

Nick Black nickblack1 at gmail.com
Thu Apr 30 09:03:40 BST 2009

On Wed, Apr 29, 2009 at 9:45 PM, Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org> wrote:

> Hi,
> Dermot McNally wrote:
>> Clearly every potential user of OSM is different, but for me, a key
>> benefit when I discovered the project what "hey, vector data, that can
>> be used for routing!". If we think that others discovering the project
>> would thing likewise then a prominent path from project home page to a
>> routing engine (and I really couldn't care less whose) would be a Good
>> Thing. As long as it works acceptably well, of course...
> But isn't this angle one where the open/closed distinction gains weight
> again? Currently, you can (and I've done this a number of times) tell
> potential OSM users: "Everything on openstreetmap.org is free software and
> free data - you can build the exact same site for yourself with all its
> functionality from our database and our svn" *). With non-free routing or
> geocoding services that would stop.

If we want OSM to grow and become more successful than it is then we have to
get over the idea that the only people who matter are software developers.
 There are around 12 - 17 million software developers in the world.  How
many of those developers know how to use SVN?  Maybe 1%.  How many are FLOSS
developers?  How many care enough about OSM to learn how to use it?  If 1%
of software developers care about OSM, which is very optimistic estimate,
then we have a total pool of people who could do as you suggest of around
170,000 people.  Not very many.

How do people discover OSM?  Their friend tells them or they find it through
a Google search.  They take a look at the front page of the site and within
2-5 seconds they make their minds up about it.  I don't have the numbers,
but I'd guess that we have between a less than 1% conversion rate from
unique visitors to OSM to people who sign-up for an account.  Imagine if we
could increase that rate by 5x.  5x more people sign up for an account, 5x
more people mapping, 5x more people submitting patches to JOSM and Potlatch.
 5x more people at SOTM, 5x more Foundation members.

We really need to think about what is more important to OSM.  The most
important thing in my view is creating the best free map of  the world.  To
do that we need to encourage more people to join OSM - people who do not
know or care what SVN is or why a routing algorithm does its thing.

Surely the biggest victory for any open source project is to squash its
competitors and completely change the game?  Few open source projects have
achieved this.  In 5 years time, the entire concept of proprietary maps
created by guys in vans could be a thing of the past.  OpenStreetMap and our
way of doing things will have completely wiped the floor with our
competitors.  We can only get to this point if we stop thinking of ourselves
as a small, specialist community and start to think of ourselves as a
mainstream movement that caters for the needs of everyone - not just the
free software world.

> Bye
> Frederik
> *) And add in fine print "if you're willing to devote a few man-months to
> get to grips with the finer details of Ruby, PHP, Python, PostGIS, Mapnik
> and others"
> --
> Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

Nick Black
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