[Osmf-talk] a receding opportunity

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Mon Oct 1 21:12:13 UTC 2012


 > To Frederick; his fork in this conversation is flippant and
 > unproductive. Not responding to any of his arguments here.

Not responding to someone else's arguments is OK, nobody can be bothered 
to read and engage with everything.

But reading it, and then discounting it altogether, publicly claiming 
that it is not worth responding to, is not only impolite but also an 
intellectual affront. I believe that I have made a number of points that 
are very relevant to your position.

My core message was "we don't need to worry, all is fine"; your core 
message is "we need to do more, else we'll sink into oblivion". I can't 
see any of these two messages being more "productive" than the other; 
both advise a certain cause of action and nothing more. Both give 
detailed reasons on why the course of action makes sense to the writer. 
I can't see anything in your message that would give you the right to 
brand mine as "unproductive", at least without putting your own in the 
same class at the same time.

 > We need to be proactive here for the same reason why we need to be
 > proactive in more and more media releases;

There are many blogs, and there are many stupid blogs. TechCrunch, for 
example, once famously reported that we were controlled by CloudMade. 
They simply don't check twice what they write, and so it comes as no 
surprise that they botched the Knight grant issue as well. Can we really 
spend time to fight all the stupidity in the world?

I think that having sensible online material and a communications 
working group that replies to inquiries in a correct, readable, and 
timely fashion is certainly a goal worth aiming for. An occasional blog 
post whenver there's something new and interesting can't hurt. (On the 
other hand, we shouldn't join the media attention rat race and attempt 
to fire out "releases" even when there's nothing to say.) Perhaps your 
position and mine aren't too far apart - I never advocated being 
"silent". Maybe you should define what you mean by "proactive". I think 
that CWG have already built a few contacts to the press that come back 
to us when they're looking for something - that sounds sensible, but as 
Christian has said, it happens as much or even more at the local level 
as it happens globally.

When you say that "we must do more" of something, what is your reference 
figure. Are you at all familiar with the work of CWG and with any 
"proactive" activities on the national and local level? Or are you just 
looking at the effect ("56 blogs have misreported something about OSM 
this week so we're clearly not proactive enough")?

 > Apple would be, simply, the largest consumer of OpenStreetMap. This
 > would matter. Even their 'filling in the spaces' usage of OSM is
 > massive.

Apparently you have information about where exactly they are "filling in 
the spaces", since you say it is massive. Care to share?

 > We cannot ignore this potential for generating contributors,
 > corrections, and understanding of where OSM fits into the world.

I think there are two separate concerns here.

1. Should we use the opportunity, just as we have used previous similar 
opportunities, to say something that people will listen to? - Yes, that 
would be a good idea, however *can* we say something except that "to the 
best of our knowledge, Apple are currently using some of our data of an 
unspecified vintage in some areas of the world"? Should we welcome the 
new users that this epsiode brings, just like we have welcomed new users 
in the past? Certainly. (Also see Richard Weait's Welcome initiative.)

2. Should we treat Apple any differently than other data consumers? - 
No. There are many pieces of software that display an OpenStreetMap map 
on iOS. Some of them are more widely used than others. Some of them are 
from businesses, some from open projects. One is made by Apple.

If I understand you correctly, you would like us to go beyond simply 
saying "yep, folks, the Apple app uses OSM and you can sign up and edit 
the data here", but you'd like us to invest time to give them special 
treatment; maybe find out how we could help them make things better, how 
they could refer editors to us, maybe help them to update their map 
faster or what not. Am I right in this, or have I misread you? I have no 
intention of setting up a straw man here.

If I am right, then the question is, why don't we help others in the 
same way. Why do we, for example, not decide to collect a grant 
somewhere and contract someone to write the "OpenStreetMap App" that 
RichardF mentioned here, or why don't we call up OffMaps or Skobbler and 
ask them if they need any help given that their applications are 
prominent in the iOS sector.

If your point is that yes, Apple deserve special treatment because 
they're so big - then how big does one have to be to get this treatment; 
are there any objective criteria beyond your personal opinion that 
"Apple would be the largest consumer of OpenStreetMap"? And: Is it in 
our interest to invest into making especially Apple's map product 
better; should we not aim to have an OSM "ecosystem"?

Without wanting to go down the "Apple is evil" road, it is a fact that 
just as quickly as Apple can decide to use OSM they can decide to dump 
OSM, and I'm pretty sure that those who know more about Apple than I do 
will agree that Apple wouldn't ask us for our input to such a decision. 
Anything we invest into forging bonds with Apple is totally at their 
discretion - whereas if we were to invest the same hours into getting 
our own map app up and running that would still be alive even if Apple 
decides to return to Google maps or whatever.

Maybe cautious words are "unproductive". But is a frantic call to "do 
something" really better?


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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