[Tagging] Basic cartography features missing, why?

stevea steveaOSM at softworkers.com
Sat Nov 7 20:57:58 UTC 2020

On Nov 7, 2020, at 9:14 AM, Anders Torger <anders at torger.se> wrote:
> Hello Steve,
> thanks for that wonderful and inspiring post! I'll surely think about doing-what-can-be-done-with-the-current-tools-at-hand, and think about that the work can be built upon by others in the future. Most inspiring!

You are welcome!  I'm glad we resonate on at least a couple of levels (likely more).  I love it when that happens in OSM.

> And I'll also clarify, I don't expect some Swiss cartographic artwork to come out of the renderer. But I do think that OSM could go a lot further in that direction, and should strive to do so. That needs strategic high-level decisions. If cartographic renderings becomes a priority, other design decisions will follow. Now when many other factors are of higher priority, no improvement will happen.

We agree that OSM "can go a lot further in (those directions)."  We DO strive to do so, however, there are processes like consensus and running on a shoestring budget by volunteers which are unique to OSM (and open projects) that many consider slow, even messy.  (Sort of like the democratic process in the USA?  But hey, see?  EVENTUALLY, good things DO happen!)  How OSM "prioritizes" what is important is likely the closest resonance to what you call "anarchistic," as everybody has their favorite priorities and it can be slow going to find unity so that the betterment of the map (and how it works, how it looks, how it acts...) "lurches" forward.  Heck, forward momentum is terrific as it happens, even if it took a while to get there.

> I will continue to be a casual mapper as long as the bike routing tools I use use OSM. I'm an egoistic contributor in that regard, I do it because I need have direct use for the data myself. I also map the places I grew up in and love, and I have a specific connection to rural areas (although I live in city now) so I do work there to, makes me feel good. Some do handicraft as relaxing hobby, and mapping is my handicraft.

This puts you right in the wheelhouse of a great many other OSM mappers who share a virtually identical profile as you:  you can consider yourself among "birds of a feather" as a part of OSM in those regards.  Welcome.

> As I described in a different post, here in Sweden OSM doesn't have a particular strong position as the alternatives has come strong the past 5 - 7 years. OSM didn't reach a good baseline here before interest went down due to easily and cheaply accessible alternatives, so we are in a tricky situation. We need mappers and it's hard to convince regular people to contribute to OSM, "why do that when high quality maps are free?". I've written open-source software since the 1990s, so the open license thing is an easy sell to me, but to regular people the ideology bit doesn't really work. I haven't done a survey, but my theory is that the typical contributor here do it as a sort of pleasing handicraft.

Consider that while OSM "chugs along" (slowly? maybe...) compared to other (nearly always commercial, proprietary) concerns, we do so with the truly long-term goal of "keep the data open and free."  Others, while they certainly have their place, don't.  Indeed, consider how OSM's campaign of "Switch2OSM" was inspired to help web developers "wean away" from what might be called the commercial world's "bait and switch" approach of "give them some free samples to taste, then when they're hooked on how neat it is to benefit from the commercial product, charge them serious money."  This was found off-putting (offensive) to many who felt betrayed and OSM was all-too-happy to welcome them with open arms, so long as our long-term goals of "keep the data open and free" are respected.  That's a powerful lesson for open data and it will be repeated in the future again and again as OSM's strengths become apparent and the latest "flash in the pan" commercial mapping software service decides their business model targets YOUR wallet to pay for its profits, rather than earning the respect of your community (both OSM and not) for the modest efforts we expend as volunteers.  Long-term, OSM co-exists with these other map data providers, but we each do have our places in the geographic data ecosystems of the world.  "Regular people" don't need to understand these mighty forces to have the everyday experience of "I wanted a better map of my neighborhood, so with a modest amount of effort, I did so."  You can change "I" to "we" with two, three or larger numbers of people, too, as OSM works very well in small groups of dedicated volunteers who share passion for a locality or region — we really do get a great deal done exactly like that.

> To make it pleasing the resulting product should be good, and I think there is more to do there, not the least for rural areas where the naming issues is most evident.

Yes, there is ALWAYS "more to do" in OSM.  Consider this:  "the map is never done" and "the map is always getting better."  When I put those two together, it keeps me going in OSM.  We all have our favorite issues we might solve, may you find that focusing your efforts results in you (and others) achieving what you wish to see.  It can be done, I'll attest.  Certainly, this takes effort and often head-scratching, lengthy, sometimes difficult interactions with others and learning new things, yet those are part of the magic, charm and rewards I find contributing to OSM.


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