Going to the OpenStreetMap conference

State Of The Map 2008 PosterToday I’m flying to Ireland to go to The State of the Map, a conference all about OpenStreetMap. I’ll be spending this weekend meeting other OSM people and seeing a whole variety of talks on different aspects/ideas around project. I’m excited. Does this represent a disturbing escalation in my irrational obsession with this thing? …Let me explain.

I find the project compelling in many different ways. Like wikipedia, we’re building something great and free for the benefit of everyone. Unlike wikipedia, it’s only the beginning. The fun stage. We’re still very much building the map to achieve basic coverage. It’s exciting to be involved at this early stage. We are pioneers. It hasn’t (yet) reached that turning point where the whole exercise becomes anal and pedantic (as wikipedia feels sometimes). Even the mapping software is still under development. Maybe it always will be, because there’s limitless potential for new gorgeously visual graphical map editors and renderers.

And what’s so great about maps? Maps are fascinating to look at, but they’re also deeply anchored to the real world. They represent the world I travel to work in, and the world I go on holiday to. But the thing about OpenStreetMap which is simultaneously frustrating, bizarre, and amazingly fun: map copyrights, when you follow through the reasoning, will point to one ridiculous/marvellous conclusion: We have to go out and explore! Now I’m in a world where every street is waiting to become a tagged data element. Every journey is a mapping opportunity.

….Nope. I’m still coming across as disturbingly irrationally obsessed aren’t I?

The bad thing is, I’m taking Francine along with me to the conference. She wanted to come along for a fun weekend of flights and hotels and visiting Ireland. I’m a bit worried she might be bored senseless.

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