[OSM-talk] will we be nuked from orbit?

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemeD.net
Wed Jul 25 12:43:46 BST 2007

Steve Coast wrote:

> 18 or 24 months ago Tom Carden said to me that OSM could be shut down
> and we could start all over again with relative, /relative/, ease. I
> still think he's right. If we started again today, it would not take
> 3 years to get 9,000 people, or design JOSM, or the code, and so on.
> All of the tools are there, we would just have to restart with a
> better idea about the license. Or perhaps restart with two separate
> licensed projects. If OSM restarted today, how would you run it?

Heh, fantasy OSM.

I think, and I know this sounds smug, that we, and you, have got so  
much right in the last year that nothing much fundamental needs  
changing. Of the things that I'd suggest, only one - the licence - is  
going to be difficult.

I'd remove segments. I know that sounds like practical detail, but  
they're an extra barrier to the newbie's understanding and they slow  
the servers down.

I'd create a new set of help pages that _weren't_ a wiki, just pages  
in svn, and leave the wiki for community-building. I'd start  
forum.openstreetmap.org and implement single sign-on (and move the  
building a few inches to the left).

The big one: I'd choose a licence that was unambiguous and left little  
room for argument. Either an attribution licence - with clarification  
as to what the attribution should be (nl:CC-BY with an extra clause  
tagged on would do) - or a new share-data licence. My strong  
preference is the former, because I think our differentiation from  
Google and TomTom should be that we are more open in all situations.  
But I can see that some others, albeit a minority if the SOTM straw  
poll is anything to go by, would prefer the latter. (I'm afraid my  
thinking on licensing has now become sufficiently arrogant that I now  
feel anyone who's still defending CC-BY-SA for OSM simply hasn't  
studied the issues enough. There's a good case to be made for a  
share-alike licence, but CC-BY-SA isn't the one.)

Armed with this unambiguous licence, I'd make a real effort to get  
sites with embedded maps to use OSM tiles and data. People like  
Sustrans, the National Byway, Waterscape: there are thousands more.

I'd present a complete set of map tiles for a given country to one of  
the big webmap guys, and say "here you are. Please use it".

Oh yeah, and I'd get ready to pose the same question again when Google  
buys Navteq.


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