[Talk-GB] Ordnance Survey response

Andy Allan gravitystorm at gmail.com
Mon Jan 18 18:08:31 GMT 2010

On Mon, Jan 18, 2010 at 5:41 PM, SteveC <steve at asklater.com> wrote:

> Oh don't be so sensitive, Richard and I go back and forth on this all the time. I can understand why he argues for strange monopolies given his politcal ideals. Is that better?

It's a bit of a recurring theme on these lists though - when the
discussion gets going, the personal statements come out. It's weak
debating skills.

> Now, why shouldn't I get free access to these maps? What is so special about them that we ned to grant a monopoly to protect a supposedly valuable sub-industry? I find it super weird you want a monopoly to protect industry, but there you go. What are the companies, products or jobs that will be hurt by it?

I didn't say I wanted a monopoly. I'd rather either
a) the government (i.e. the OS now, and doubly so if they stop trying
to cover costs and just take subsidies instead) didn't produce printed
maps at all
b) or if the OS is going to produce finished maps, they spin out the
cartographers and printing presses into a commercial organisation and
let it sink or swim without government subsidy in competition with the
like of, well, everyone else.

This isn't me saying that I disapprove of a commercial company giving
away a whole load of raster maps for free, I'm saying I don't think
the government should be funding it. The only analogies I've thought
of are if the government was to start up a department in Southampton
employing authors to write novels and give them away to ebook readers,
or if they paid civil-servant photographers to go round taking
pictures of cats, caption them and run icanhascheezburger.gov.uk -
both of which seem a bit weird and a misuse of public funds.

Now I think we need a national mapping agency, since there are lots of
bits of government (and society) that wouldn't work without having
someone saying "this line goes here". And the kind of data that a
government collects in order to have a functioning government should
also be public domain. But beyond that, it's a sliding scale into
competing with a whole load of organisations who could be doing it


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