[talk-au] Mapping "off track" hiking routes

stevea steveaOSM at softworkers.com
Fri Oct 23 06:38:47 UTC 2020

Perhaps I am out of bounds as a just-joined-this-list-today guy-from-the-USA.  But.  (I have had similar conversations before in OSM and Ive been a volunteer here for 12.5 years).

I have mixed feelings when people say OSM shouldn’t map real things in the real world.  I see the argument for women’s shelters and closed mountain bike trails being destroyed by mountain bikers through erosion and overuse.  However, if the “guard at the door” or the “enforcement on the land” isn’t “good enough” for the owner / proprietor of the property, it isn’t the fault of OSM simply stating “there is a ’this’ here” if any negative consequences arise.  Why is this?  Because maps don’t make people trespass, enter places they shouldn’t, sneak onto military bases, violate sacred sites uninvited or a host of other nefarious activities:  people choose to do these things.  “The map made me do it” simply doesn’t fly.

Especially in an open data project, “things that shouldn’t be mapped” is a strange concept for me to get my head around:  why not?  It is there.  It exists in the real world.  Sure, “keeping the location secret by not putting it on the map” is a longtime practice in mapmaking, I’ll agree that this has been done since, well, maps.  But does OSM want to continue this?  If we do, who gets to decide what gets mapped and what doesn’t?  Individual mappers?  Local law?  OSM-community consensus?  These are tricky and seemingly intractable questions and I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to decide.  But the only way we might do so is to talk about it, so here we are.  I wish us luck.  There are plenty of us who say “if it exists in the real world, map it” and “maps don’t make people do foolish things, foolish people do."

That’s one person’s opinion, anyway.  Thanks for reading.

California, USA

More information about the Talk-au mailing list