[OSM-talk] Fwd: [CARTO-SoC] Re: Guardian article on data availability

SteveC steve at asklater.com
Thu Mar 16 23:54:16 GMT 2006

* @ 16/03/06 01:48:30 PM richard at systemeD.net wrote:
> ----- Forwarded message from G.Allsopp at Sheffield.ac.uk -----
>     Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 13:17:18 GMT
>     From: Graham Allsopp <G.Allsopp at Sheffield.ac.uk>
> Reply-To: carto-soc at sheffield.ac.uk
>  Subject: [CARTO-SoC] Re: Guardian article on data availability
>       To: Multiple recipients of list CARTO-SOC <carto-soc at sheffield.ac.uk>
> At 5:06 pm +0000 10/3/06, Steve Chilton wrote:
> >Remember the discussion at SoC 2005 on Public Access to data?
> >
> >There is an article yesterday in the UK Guardian about data availability...
> Charles Arthur and Michael Cross report back on the "avalanche of
> responses" to their initial article in today's Guardian:
> http://technology.guardian.co.uk/weekly/story/0,,1731386,00.html
> together with announcing a dedicated web site devoted to "Making
> taxpayers' data available to them":
> http://www.freeourdata.org.uk/

FAQ entry:

'Wouldn't it be better to create an open-source database of geographic
and other data? 

Much though we admire the stoicism of the people at XXX,
when you compare it to the Post Office's thousands of postcodes - which
it has to verify - and the Ordnance Survey's billion-odd bits of data,
which would cost perhaps £200m in taxes to keep updated to their present
quality - that is, about £4 per taxpayer per year - you have to say that
it makes more sense to free the existing data than to reinvent the
wheel. It's a very large wheel.'

This misses the point of what's useful. We don't have to have millions
of postcodes to be useful. We don't need to know where trees are to the
milimeter to create a map that's 99% useful. Even Ed was saying this, I
think, when he was saying that what OSM is doing is not the same as what
the OS is. To the best of my knowledge the OS leaves streetmap work to
mastermap derivation by third parties. They do mastermap.

It also misses that OSM and FTP are collaborative efforts with social
and innovative technological angles.

If the campaign is about money then as a friend said the other day, let
an economist decide IP law. There is no 'right way' to do government IP
policy. The US has public domain, we have crown copyright, others have
others. public domain is not magically better, it's worse in lots of
ways than, say, viral licenses like CC. I'll leave the BSD vs. GPL

But again, some economists should decide the IP law. Not the
rightsholders (the OS) or us as consumers because we're equally biased.
What's the overall benefit to the UK economy? That's the question.

Personally, having been involved in campaigns, I think it's going to
take *ages* to have any effect. This will stir up a hornets nest. The OS
may be big and evil, but as people said on Ed's blog (I think): the
treasury isn't going to pay for this. They'll privatise the OS if
anything. Then what? Then we're all suddenly competing with someone who
has all the data, most of the expertise, and no need to play nice.
Because I think at the moment they _do_ play nice with some people,
compared to their options should they be privatised.

This is not an argument that the debate is pointless or that the
'campaign' should not be supported, but that we should be careful what
we wish for. Oh, and that we shouldn't dismiss the people at XXX.

So personally, I'd avoid polarising this issue about public domain vs.
crown copyright. My personal judgment is that I will have more effect on
the availability of free mapping data by working on and promoting OSM
than lobbying europarl or within Westminster.

OpenStreetMap is way bigger than me though. I could spend time lobbying.
What does everyone think?  Are these seperate parallel inititives or
more closely intertwined?

have fun,

SteveC steve at asklater.com http://www.asklater.com/steve/

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