[Talk-us] Facts about the world

Martijn van Exel martijn at openstreetmap.us
Fri Apr 3 18:19:35 UTC 2015

It would be nice if we could have SotM US this June be a venue to dispel
some of the assumptions that seem to exist abroad about the U.S
OpenStreetMap community. Reducing the U.S. community to a bunch of couch
potatoes who are more concerned with mapping remote places and importing
data is not only inaccurate but also disrespectful to all of us who
tirelessly work to improve our neighborhoods and towns based on good ol'
ground surveying and local knowledge.

Perhaps we, as the U.S. chapter, play a role in creating or sustaining
these false assumptions? Do we need to do a better job highlighting really
good local mapping efforts? I would welcome opinions and ideas.

Martijn van Exel
Secretary, US Chapter
skype: mvexel

On Fri, Apr 3, 2015 at 11:46 AM, stevea <steveaOSM at softworkers.com> wrote:

> 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.
> Regards,
> SteveA
> California
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