An OSM Kinda Day

It's an absolutely gorgeous day outside. A day I have off of work as well. A day in which I have very little cleaning to do and absolutely no obligations. A day that just begs for an LGR Foods style lunch downed with some delicious, ice cold Open-Source Cola.

(Pe·erTu·be) LGRwich №3 - The Lazy Flame-Toasted Reuben

Did I mention that it's absolutely gorgeous outside? I can tell just by looking out the window. I grab my keys and my cell phone and head out the door. The air smells like barbeque.

This day is one of those days that's just too good. You just know that something just isn't completely right, like something's going to come up to bite you. I head on over to an unmapped part of the neighborhood and I pull out my cell phone, firing up the StreetComplete app and make my edits.

OpenStreetMap is to maps what Wikipedia is to encyclopediae. It's a giant geographic database that's open for people to use and edit. Most people ask, why not use Google Maps? It's a great question from a practical standpoint. I mean, Google Maps is owned by a huge company that already has a fantastic database of its own that includes all kinds of useful information on the surrounding businesses. The issue becomes clear when we start to think of the long term. Say everyone decides to ditch everything else for Google Maps, effectively making it a huge monopoly. If an advertizing company were to have a monopoly on a geographic service that, quite frankly, a lot of people rely heavily on, I could only imagine they'd be up to no good.

Imagine one day you decide that you want to go out to eat. You fire up Google Maps and ask it to show you a list of fast food places. It does just that, showing Billy's Bistro, Charlie's Cafe and Daisy's Diner. You don't care much for Daisy's, Billy's is quite nice but far away so you settle on Charlie's. On your way to Charlie's you spot Ernie's as you're passing by. Ernie's is the absolute best and it wasn't quite far from your place, so why didn't it show up when you looked it up? You pull out your phone (when it's safe to do so) and you look at the list again. Ernie's is somewhere towards the bottom for some reason. It turns out, Billy's and Charlie's pay Google top dollar to keep their restaurants towards the top of the list, often paying prices so high that Ernie's can't even compete, causing them to lose quite a lot of business.

As I'm walking along a busy road, I see a sign that claims that you can make anywhere between three to five thousand dollars a month online. I tear down the poster and throw it out. I continue on to another area, doing my best to be thorough and accurate in my mapping. I, however, can't shake a few concerns I have about the project I'm contributing to.

There's already a wonderful blog post that describes all sorts of issues that are currently plaguing the project. In essence, while it isn't absolutely perfect, it's still the best we've got. I'll still continue on fine days like this to contribute, because it's the closest thing we have to a world map that is free as in freedom. In the meantime, I'll kep an eye on the OSM community and see just how well Serge's call to action has been, and helping out in that regard in any way that I can. It's getting kinda chilly out. I think it's time to go back inside.

"I am a pessimist by nature. Many people can only keep on fighting when they expect to win. I'm not like that, I always expect to lose. I fight anyway, and sometimes I win." - Richard Stallman

Further reading:

I'm going to stick to a monthly posting schedule.