OpenStreetMap

Not particularly related to music (which is why I have a miscellany in the header box), but interesting nevertheless. I confess to being one of those people who, on arrival in an unfamiliar place, has as their first priority the need to get hold of a map – this comes above even decent pubs, record shops and purveyors of veggie grub. So I guess I’m a bit of a map geek.

Anyway, the online regime of Google maps, Autoroute and Multimap seems to have stripped the world of anything interesting, and replaced it with a network of street names, road numbers and grey blobs for towns. This where OpenStreetMap comes in. As a Wiki resource it’s open to be edited, and thus is gradually acquiring loads of the sort of interesting detail absent from any of its online competitors. And supposedly it covers the entire planet.

A quick scoot around revealed that Glasgow has most of its major landmarks present and correct, as well as useful beer glass symbols pinpointing some of the better drinking establishments (including Mono and the 13th Note). Further afield, though, I noticed tracts of the Highlands and Islands that are still missing those few roads they have. It’s kind of fun that some bits haven’t been built yet, but a bit offputting if you’re trying to plan a journey to somewhere only to discover that there are no routes there. Topographically it’s still a bit flat, although it does have more detail of things like forests, rivers, mountains and lakes than any of the other online resources.

The best thing, though, is that being Open Source, it’s not beholden to the monolithic software corporations. And if something of interest isn’t there, you can just add it (which, as in Wikipedia, brings up questions of accuracy – but then I’ve found Wikipedia is pretty well policed, and far more accurate than most people give it credit for).

The link for budding explorers is http://www.openstreetmap.org/

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