Category Archives: Uncategorized

Map? Art? Both?

Sometimes a map becomes more than just a spatial representation and becomes something else. Sometimes a data visualisation becomes more than just the underlying data and almost takes on a life of its own. When these two things meet or collide the results can be spectacularly compelling and almost … art? Which brings me neatly to the Geotagger’s World Atlas.

This rendition of geotagged photos from the Flickr and Picasa APIs is recognisably London but seems more akin to the London of one of Neil Gaiman’s novels than anything you’d find in Stanfords in London’s Covent Garden.

I could spend hours looking at the entire Flickr set of images. Correction, I have spent hours looking at the entire Flickr set of images; hence my original blog post on these lovely images.

Photo credit: Eric Fischer on Flickr.

Image of the Week: OSM editor Mapzen


The image of the week is a screenshot of an OSM editing program,

About Image of the Week
These are Featured images, which have been identified as the best
examples of OpenStreetMap mapping, or as useful illustrations of the
OpenStreetMap project.

If you know another image of similar quality, you can nominate it on
Featured image proposals.

Project of the Week: FIFA World Cup 2010: Part 2

It may be the most widely-viewed sporting event in the world.[1] The
FIFA World Cup will kick off in South Africa next week. In
preparation, points of Interest were collected . All that remains is
to add the finishing touches.

You can help in 3 different ways:
– Map a training stadium.
– Trace buildings and other features from Y!
– Local mappers, add building addresses.

More details, tagging suggestions and links to stadium locations for
this Project of the Week:

This Project of the Week was presented by Nic Roets. Nic is a cyclist
and long-time OSM contributor from South Africa.

Nic is also the author of the Gosmore navigation and routing
application for OpenStreetMap.

This is your Project of the Week. Make suggestions, like Nic did when
he provided us with this PotW.

Soccer photo by susieq3c
Licensed ccby


Image of the Week: Map Kibera

The mappers above are mapping Kibera as part of the Map Kibera
project. From their web site:

Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, widely known as Africa’s largest
slum, remains a blank spot on the map. Without basic knowledge of the
geography and resources of Kibera it is impossible to have an informed
discussion on how to improve the lives of residents. This November,
young Kiberans create the first public digital map of their own

You can find out more about the Map Kibera project at their blog

Photo by ricajimarie
Licensed cc-nc-sa

Project of the Week – 22 May 2010: Gardening

Ah, spring is finally in the air in the northern climes. Tradition in
these parts of Southern Ontario (Canada) is to do your first gardening
of the year on the Victoria Day weekend. Any earlier and you risk a
frost-kill. Any later and you risk a frost-kill before you can harvest
your tomatoes and cucumbers.

So to celebrate Victoria Day, and nature’s awesome majesty in the form
of fruits, vegetables and decorative flowers, the Project of the Week
is to map the things that we plant in the ground.

PotW is a day earlier than usual so we can dig in the garden and enjoy
the weather.

More details on this Project of the Week

This is your Project of the Week. Make suggestions.

Diasies photo by gfpeck
licensed ccbynd

Eddy’s Sofa And The Nightmare Of A Single Global Places Register

“Eddies,” said Ford, “in the space-time continuum.” “Ah,” nodded Arthur, “is he? Is he?” 
“What?” said Ford. “Er, who,” said Arthur, “is Eddy, then, exactly, then?”

Why,” he said, “is there a sofa in that field?”
“I told you!” shouted Ford, leaping to his feet. “Eddies in the space-time continuum!”
“And this is his sofa, is it?” asked Arthur, struggling to his feet and, he hoped, though not very optimistically, to his senses.

Jump onto Eddy’s sofa for a moment and fast forward to a possible 2015. 

After the location wars of 2010, the problems of mutually incompatible geographic identifiers have been solved with the formation of the Global Places Register. Founded by a fledgling startup on the outskirts of Bangalore, the GPR offered an open and free way for individuals and corporations to add their town, their business, their POI. All places added became part of the Global Places Translator, allowing Yahoo’s WOEIDs to be transformed into OpenStreetMap Ways, into long/lat centroids, into GeoNames ids or even, for the nostalgic, Eastings and Northings.

With this thorny problem solved, location issues became a thing of the past, no one used the phrase ubiquitous location any more and location really was a key context. 

Until 2014 when, inspired by the move from CDDB to Gracenote, Global Places Pty Ltd promptly ringfenced the entire database under a commercial license and added a mandatory application id to all their APIs. An application id that cost a lot of money in licensing.

Of course, the fact that the GPR was now the sole global source of places doesn’t mean that it’s complete or authoritative. Being controlled by a single corporation, the GPR is an easy and obvious target for hacking and litigation. A dedicated team spends all their time removing places and POIs from the register that have offensive or religious connotations, either as a result of user generated contributions or malicious hacking.

Sadly, the cities of London in Ontario and Ohio are no longer found in the GPR; they’ve had to rename themselves after a successful trademark and copyright case brought by London in the United Kingdom, which is now the sole place in the world allowed to call itself by that name. This does make geodisambiguation a bit easier though.

Likewise, you won’t find any newsagent or newsstand POIs in the GPR; they were all removed following a successful DMCA takedown by the League of Concerned Conservative Fundamentalist Parents, who didn’t want their precious offspring to be able to locate purveyors of potentially offensive adult material on their GPR powered LBS apps on their Android mobile internet tablets.

The same goes for any business with the word jolly in it; they were all removed and forced to rebrand following the success of Jolly Jet trademarking the word jolly and then pursuing an aggressive litigation program against any business unfortunate enough to have that word as part of their name.

This is all just a geographical bad dream. It’s not real. Wake up. Back to 2010 now, safe and secure in the knowledge that this could never happen …

Yet there is a growing clarion call for an open global database of places, POIs and business listings that will allow all of the disparate geographic identifier systems to be rationalised and used interchangeably. It’s the problem of what I’ve started calling GeoBabel but an actual global database of places isn’t the solution to this problem.

State of the Map 2010 – Schedules announced


I know that you have been waiting to see the schedule for State of the
Map 2010. And now I know that you will love it. The SotM team has
done a spectacular job of soliciting and acquiring a great line-up of
speakers and topics. You will want to buy your ticket and book your
trip now.

Day One: Business and Workshop Day

Day Two: Community, Tech, Quality and Scholarship Tracks

Day Three: Tools, Imports, Humanitarian and Cartography Tracks

One sign of an excellent conference program is having too many hard
choices between concurrent sessions. This schedule passes that test.
I’ve made many decisions on which talk I’ll attend, but others I’ll
have to decide at the last minute. This is a conference not to be