Mapping itself is pretty simple. Yesterday was rainy, so i spent the first half of the day going through the different programs, and testing how well they worked in Fedora. Once that was taken care of, we had a pretty good idea of what worked and what didn't. Overall, JOSM is an excellent program to work with, albeit it could use a few bug fixes and some polish. With some of the plugins, it's very easy to get working right away, produce quality information on the maps, and most importantly, to fill out bugs and clue other people how and why you did things the way you did. I think map making might be one of the easiest things to do to contribute to Open Source without knowing how to program or know alot about computers.
Over the past two days, Richard and i talked about a bunch of good ideas, some of them i hope bring to reality this week. He's been looking for a good tool to get new mappers set up mapping with the most minimal set up possible. Since all the packages we need have been made into RPMs, it should be relatively trivial to put a kickstart and liveUSB together to do the job.
We would like to gather interested people for a Geo SIG inside Fedora. If any of you readers out there love mapping and love Fedora, we would love to hear from you. If we're going to start giving away Fedora at mapping parties, then it will be good to have a SIG and export Fedora users around to help out.
OpenStreetMap and its sponsors are people who 'get' Open Source and Community. To this, i would like to be able to help Richard spread his message as much as we like to spread ours. One of the challenges that he faces when planning mapping parties is that he knows very little about the area he is going to. Out of a purely practical consideration, he needs help to make sure he isn't putting the party in an otherwise unsafe neighborhood. These parties are about having fun, not getting new mappers mugged or worse just for coming out to have an enjoyable afternoon. I invited Richard to join our Ambassadors mailing list, to ask the Ambassadors for help. I posted a quick email there a few days ago, so before you flame or bikeshed me, remember that you had your chance to do that on that thread. If you have the ability and the wishes to do so, please help him out with any practical information you can give him, as an Ambassador, about areas you know about.
On that same note, Richard mentioned another issue that he's been having, similar as we have been having. How do you measure community involvement. Sufficed to say, we may see our second user of EKG in the near future :).
We also talked about ways to open up more of a mapping community in Pittsburgh. Fortunately, a BarCamp has been announced for next weekend here in Pittsburgh. I'm hoping to do a demo of mapping in Pittsburgh, and hopefully starting something new. It should be fun to see how that goes.
Last but not least, no event would be successful if it weren't for one of my pipe dream ideas. Apparently, using a one-off schematic design, it would be reasonable to mass produce USB GPS devices that feed directly to gpsd for 12 USD per piece at lots of 10,000 or more. I'm sure for an extra 50 cents, we could get a green plastic cover. If you're thinking OLPC, you got it. What would it take to outfit OLPCs with GPS devices, and an activity designed around mapping and geo-caching? With large communities of kids being given new technology, they could all use OSM to map things around each other, perhaps collaborate on physical presence events, geo-cache, map their town for other people to see, and even share shortcuts through spaces they know. Since OSM is a free and open wiki, the possibilities are really endless. I would love to know if this could be done.
That's it for now. And now back to the regularly schedule school program of dooooooooom.