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State of the Map USA

Those crazy cats in Washington DC have announced the SOTM in the USA, it’ll be in a (very) hot Atlanta in August. Read on for the full details…

U.S. State of the Map National Conference: Call for Papers

The OpenStreetMap-US National Chapter is proud to announce the first annual U.S. State of the Map Conference will be held August 14-15, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. This fun-filled and informative two day event will showcase presentations from some of the best and brightest members of the US OSM community and provide a platform to introduce the world’s largest online collaborative open geodata project to a larger American audience.

Location The conference will be held at the Georgia World Congress Center (, located in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia; directly across the street from CNN World Headquarters and the Georgia Aquarium.
Call for PapersOpenStreetMap-US invites submissions from mappers, academics, policy makers, developers, geo-hackers, business leaders and open geodata supporters around the country. So, if you are involved in OpenStreetMap as a mapper, developer, community organizer – or if you use OSM in your business, research or other projects, we encourage you to submit your presentation. Submission is open to everyone in the community, no matter how new you are to the project.
Key ContactsIf you would like to submit a paper, please contact US-SOTM Speaker Committee chairwoman Kate Chapman at
Please note that the email for paper submissions will change as the State of the Map US website ( ) is completed. A notice will be posted to the talk-us list when that change occurs, likely towards the later part of this week.

For More Information To find out more information about the US State of the Map Conference, please visit us at or

To Get InvolvedAnd, as always, if you are interested in helping plan the event, secure sponsors, pick speakers or just want to find out more about how things are shaping up, please join us on our weekly conference calls. These calls are completely open. The call in details can be found on the wiki page listed above.
We look forward to seeing everyone in Atlanta, Georgia this August! Here’s to making our inaugural national OSM conference a success and the first of many more to come.


The US State of the Map Planning Committee

Random Acts of Mapness–if030510.php

“UC San Diego and Harvard deliver first experimental findings on spread of cooperation in a social network”

“In a study published in the March 8 early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University of California, San Diego and Harvard provide the first laboratory evidence that cooperative behavior is contagious and that it spreads from person to person to person. When people benefit from kindness they “pay it forward” by helping others who were not originally involved, and this creates a cascade of cooperation that influences dozens more in a social network.”

Nat talks about Open Data

“I’m kicking myself because I’ve been taking far too narrow an interpretation of “an open source approach”. I’ve been focused on getting people to release data. That’s the data analogue of tossing code over the wall, and we know it takes more than a tarball on an FTP server to get the benefits of open source. The same is true of data.”

Personally I’ve found talking to governments to be a big time sink at best.

UX Review

Dear all

One of the clear pieces of feedback from all the talk about improving the OSM UX was “show us these users who really find it difficult to use OSM”. So, we’re going to do that. We have a rough plan of action below

Nate Bolt of the splendiferous has volunteered to help OSM with a user interaction review. Nate, as part of Bolt | Peters, did exactly this work with wikipedia:

Where they basically screen recorded people trying to edit in wikipedia with the following goals:

• identify obstacles that novice users encounter in editing a Wikipedia article—including, but not limited to—adding personal content, fixing a typo, adding a reference, and contributing to discussion pages
• identify obstacles in creating a new article
• evaluate the self-sufficiency and legibility of help materials and documents found on
• evaluate how novice users interact with templates
• discover user experience patterns and issues that have not been previously identified.

Together with Mike Migurski, famed geohead, creator of walking papers and graphical butterfly at, we’ve come up with a rough plan to get feedback from new users to OSM. It’s a very similar approach to that taken by Bolt | Peters with wikipedia. We want to find out from the real newbies what the issues are and lay them out clearly. Nate is independent of OSM and will be able to present a cold hard look at what’s good and what we need to work on to improve things so we get more newbies contributing.

* A small piece of javascript from is put on the new user page in openstreetmap
* Once in some very small sample size (perhaps between 1 in 1,000 and 1 in 10,000 signups) a popup appears
* The popup says something like “Hi! We’d really like to know why you came to OSM” and they say simply why. This is open ended on purpose so we catch as many things as we can, not just what we’re looking for, but things we won’t expect.
* They’re offered to record a short (10 minute max) screencast of them trying to achieve whatever it is (like look at a map, find OSMers, add a PoI and so on)
* That screencast is analyzed in aggregate with many others by Bolt | Peters with all their expertise in doing this stuff, and they come back with a set of findings.

We’re looking at both and to do the recording. Both Mike and I will pay for it, and might solicit donations and stuff if it looks beyond our budget.

I can’t say this enough, and I always get responses from people who think that I just set something out in stone – so I’ll be super super super clear: NONE OF THIS IS SET IN STONE. We need your feedback on everything before we go ahead. I mean _everything_. So, please tell us what you think about it all. Here are some questions:

What should our goals be? (General UX? How good/bad signup is? How good/bad editing is? How is it finding info?)
How often should we ask a signup for feedback? (the more the better but we can only look at so many)
How can we include more crowd source feedback? (I think of asking random signups for feedback as crowdsourcing it)
What else should we think about?

Yours &c.


The Tragedy of Edmontorcouver Open Data


There are two minor mistakes that are holding Edmontorcouver open data
back from wide adoption, two minor mistakes that are preventing the
Edmontorcouver open data initiative from being a tremendous success.
Tiny mistakes. Easy to overlook. These are the O-rings on
Edmontorcouver open data Success Boosters.

Find out how to fix your municipal open data initiative.

Statue photo cc-by-sa fabbio on Flickr