[Talk-us] Facts about the world

stevea steveaOSM at softworkers.com
Fri Apr 3 17:46:57 UTC 2015

>On 04/03/2015 02:41 AM, stevea wrote:
>>  Erring on the side of "high ground" safety might be
>>  a good place to plant an initial flag, but if it's location is wrong and
>  > we need to move it to a more accurate place, we must do so.

And Frederik Ramm replied:
>Frankly - no. OSM does not depend on the inclusion of third party data
>sources for its quality. Taking a "high ground safety" approach with
>regards to third-party rights in data might cut us off from some third
>party data sources but then re-publishing these third party sources in
>OSM clothes doesn't do us much good anyway.

Concerning the improvement of truly noisy TIGER rail data in the USA 
so that it becomes less noisy, correctly named infrastructure, yes, 
it does do us good.  If we're going to have imported data (we do, 
here, in one case it is TIGER, and TIGER has significant errors), and 
if observations of "facts about the world" can improve these, then 
not only should we improve these, we should also not have 
proclamations that this "doesn't do us much good."  To be clear: 
cleaning up noisy data (something I strive to do, and have with much 
success for years) DOES do us much good.

>If an individual is desperate to use a third party data source, let them
>do the due diligence on the legality of the source, but it certainly
>isn't "us" who must move our flag to make it (even) easier to swamp us
>with (often low quality) third-party data.

Now, wait a minute.  #1:  I am not desperate.  These incorrect TIGER 
rail data have been aging for years.  It is high time, no, perhaps 
even overdue that we correct them.  #2:  The data source is not third 
party, these are "facts about the world" just as a hedgerow might 
grow along a fence line.  If my government employees publish data 
which confirm my corrections (and they do, so I do) that is not 
"third party" any more than the TIGER data already ARE "third party" 
(they came from the US Department of Commerce via census taking). 
#3:  OSM-US has a legal team, and in my opinion, part of their 
responsibility is to make determinations about the legality of 
categories of data and whether it is legal to enter into OSM.  This 
includes the vital category of "facts about the world."

>  > It sounds like it is getting a bit shrill.  I'll say it again:  I wish
>>  light, not heat.
>I would be absolutely thrilled if more people, especially more
>Americans, would stop thinking about what data they could take and add
>to OSM, and instead grab a GPS, or their car, or their boots, or
>bicycle, or mobile phone, or all of that, and simply map stuff.

Frederik, I have entered thousands of such data into OSM:  I 
regularly hike wilderness (in my boots, with my GPS) and park trails 
and my mapping efforts as the fruits of having done so self-document. 
I don't want to deign responding further to characterizations of my 
mapping as either "good, because I went outside" and "bad, because I 
sit in a chair."  OSM needs good quality data.  Period.  It matters 
that they don't come from copyrighted sources, but beyond that, if 
they are good quality data (or improve low quality data to high) then 
it truly doesn't matter.

>It seems to me that in the USA, what people think about OSM is one of
>these two:

This is vast oversimplification and I won't deign to reply, as others 
have and it just simply isn't true.

>The idea that you could also roll up your sleeves and map your own
>backyeard, village, town, or city quarter, instead of copying from
>official bicycle route publications, official railway brochures, or
>stuff that the administration has done, seems to occur to very few
>people, and others will say: "OpenStreetMap is cool, but I don't think
>that actually going out and doing a survey is a good use of my time".

I've done hundreds of such surveys, put the resulting data into OSM 
after editing them to the highest quality my instruments and skills 
allow, and have never once had them challenged like that.  To hear 
you say that such things happen seems like fanciful imaginings.  Take 
a look at my city and county (Santa Cruz) and the Gold Star Award at 
BestOfOSM we have won (one of only a handful in North America) and 
our county wiki page.  Sure, I'm standing on many shoulders of many 
other OSM volunteers as I say this, but I've done yeoman work in this 
project, much of it from rolling up my sleeves and mapping my 
backyard, city and county.  I, and we in the USA, are not either/or, 
one/or the the other.  I'm almost tempted to say "How dare you" but 
it's inflammatory to do that, so I won't.

>I'm really sad that time and time again we have to fight about whether
>or not a specific source is permitted to be used in OSM, when we could
>just collect the facts ourselves and therefore be completely free of any
>legal implications (and also free of errors that others may have made).

Well, I'm sad that there is so much heat and what looks like very 
little light, it's true.  I like to think of everybody on this list 
as "on the same team" where we all work toward the lofty goal of a 
fantastic map made by volunteers.  In the interest of "still want to 
see brighter light," I'll close by saying that discussing particular 
data sources is STILL a sometimes ticklish part of OSM, and that we 
can and should discuss these matters in a forum like talk-us.  I hope 
we can continue to do so with positive, enLIGHTening results that 
move us forward in productive and positive ways.


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