[OSM-dev] Masts vs Towers yet again (was Re: carto 0.16.0 released)

Oleksiy Muzalyev oleksiy.muzalyev at bluewin.ch
Fri Apr 15 09:08:23 UTC 2016

On 15.04.2016 10:15, Andy Townsend wrote:
> On 15/04/2016 08:24, Oleksiy Muzalyev wrote:
>> Google search of "radio mast", "radio tower", "television mast", 
>> "television tower", etc. gives each millions of results with similar 
>> images. It seems that the words "mast" and "tower" are 
>> interchangeable. The article in English Wikipedia is called: "Radio 
>> masts and towers": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_masts_and_towers
> At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, the English* word "mast" 
> (as in "radio mast") is an adaptation of "mast" as in "the big pointy 
> thing on ships that you hang the sails off".  It's recent - there have 
> only been radio masts for 100 years or so.
> There is a sense (noted from an engineering point of view in your 
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_masts_and_towers) that a "mast" is 
> not self-supporting but that a "tower" is, but there's certainly 
> popular crossover usage of the two terms - see for example 
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emley_Moor_transmitting_station.  I 
> drive past that every week, and if asked what it was called would 
> probably say "Emley Moor mast" but if asked whether it was a mast or a 
> tower would probably say "tower".  Also a ship's mast is usually 
> self-supporting.
> Also, please don't say things like "... and it is not rendered on the 
> OSM map at all".  What you mean is "not rendered on one of the layers 
> on the osm.org site, which is widely used by OSM mappers but hardly at 
> all by anyone else".  Most people see OSM data either in an app on 
> their phone, on a third-party website for e.g. a pizza company, or on 
> a board outside the supermarket saying where other local facilities 
> are.  None of these show what you call "the OSM map".
> It'd be nice if OSM could decide what the difference between a mast, a 
> tower and a communications tower was and start mapping accordingly.  
> The nearest thing to a sane discussion on this was on the OSM Carto 
> map style's  github rather than somewhere like the tagging list; 
> http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:man_made%3Dmast#First_question:_Is_it_a_mast_or_a_tower.3F 
> is positively unhelpful.  However it's not the end of the world - if 
> people map "big pointy thing" using one of any number of OSM tags then 
> most maps using OSM data are free to display "big pointy thing" any 
> way they like, if they feel it's appropriate.
> Cheers,
> Andy
> * I'm using British (actually English) English throughout here. Other 
> variants are available.
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Hi Andy,

Thank you for your comment.

I think it is difficult to render man_made=tower with an icon because 
there are absolutely different types of towers on the land: Fortified 
tower https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortified_tower , Observation tower 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observation_tower , etc.

But sailing ships are not so often placed on the land, so basically 
man_made=mast on the land has got less ambiguous meaning. I am trying to 
find a logic behind the fact that man_made=mast;tower:type=communication 
is rendered with an excellent icon on the default layer of the osm.org 
website, and man_made=tower;tower:type=communication is not.

A communication tower (or mast) is not only a "big pointy thing". It has 
got also an invisible ever-growing significance, as more and more people 
get mobile devices, its electromagnetic emissions, an so on.

Best regards,

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