Oct 122007

Today it is possible to get a map of essentially anywhere on Earth, but in years gone by there were plenty of empty holes in even the best world maps.  A favourite way of indicating that these gaps were unknown and potentially dangerous was to mark “Here be Dragons” on the map (unless it was a Pirate Treasure Map, which usually had “Here be Sharks” instead).

An OpenStreetMap contributor recently moved out of London to the city of Durham, which has not yet been mapped in the OSM database.  He has decided not to use any map that he can’t legally modify and display however he likes, which basically leaves him with the dragons.   When friends invite him to a certain location, they need to sketch a map rather than simply give an address to look up.  That is, until he has added that location to the OpenStreetMap.

He is writing about his experiences as he maps Durham and evicts the dragons, and his determination not to use restrictive maps should make it interesting.

  5 Responses to “Dragons provide mapping incentive”

  1. So what makes you so sure your junk is correct and not a hazard to folks?

  2. Robert,
    Do you mean that an error-filled OpenStreetMap might be even worse than no map at all? Its certainly true that no map is perfect, but a recent analysis has shown that OSM can be even more reliable than the popular Google maps.

    Of course, the largest “error” in OSM at the moment is still the blank spaces that have not yet been mapped. The point is, however, that anyone can fix things in OSM – what can you do when Google maps are full of errors?

  3. In any case we’re talking about street maps here not topographical charts of the Himalayas. No one climbing Everest is going to run into hazards as a result of OSM. The most dangerous an incorrect street map gets is when you get lost and swear for a bit.

    It’s refreshing to see the amateur vs professional struggle in something other than digital format. I’m quite interested in how it turns out.

  4. Well I’ve managed to live and move around without using other maps. I’ve got eyes and some common sense.

    Robert Lee also commented on one of the first blog posts of Living with Dragons.

  5. Now that I have looked at your maps I see what you mean. Should noth have popped off foolishly w/o checking it first.

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