Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tard army


So there's been this debate out there in blogland about "neogeography vs paleogeography". Fake Ed, for example, has called some of the new arrivals "neotard frigwit hackers".

I think I can speak for the entire community when I say I deplore his use of the offensive word f---wit to decry those with a different view to his. As everyone knows, liberal use of the word f---wit in a geo context is my trademark and I'll fight to the death to keep it.

Anyway. The problem with this kind of argument is that it oversimplifies everything into two polarised groups. This is hardly fair nor conducive to informed debate.

In fact there are not just two, but many types of tards.

  • ARC/Tards. Hold a mysterious religious belief that any fields called 'lat' and 'long' in a database require a $500,000 piece of software to manage. After 30 years of laughing at traditional cartography as old-fashioned, ARC/Tards are now shocked to be the objects of derision themselves, and are secretly hoping that if they ignore this Internet thing, it might go away. Things not to say to an ARC/Tard: "Sorry, you say that's just the annual licence fee?", "Yeah, you can do the same with a CPAN module and two lines of Perl", "How long does it take to learn this stuff?"
  • WFS-Tards. WFS-Tards have the conservatism of ARC/Tards and the cluelessness of neotards, surely a winning combination. In WFS-Tardland, also known as OSGeo, the way to solve a problem is to invent a new standard. No free mapping data? Let's design an open shapefile format because hey, some might turn up. Things not to say to a WFS-Tard: "Yes but what does it do?", "And that's faster than using Google tiles?", "So... who else is using this?"
  • Neotards. Your canonical neotard is a Google API junkie who instantly forgets the difference between 'free beer' and 'free speech' upon taking the first hit from the API crack pipe. Neotards build sites with an 'r' at the end which are ALL THE FRIGGING SAME, except DOPPLR! which is the same but with more lols. Things not to say to a Neotard: "So the lawyers have ok'd your CC license then?", "Of course, it won't quite look like that when Google puts ads on the map", "Ok... and the business model?"
  • Googletards. In the contest for which crazy Google labs project can piss away the Adwords money quickest, Google Maps is way, way out in front. Every drag on a Google Map means one less canape at Larry's wedding. Zoom in and they have to sell a beanbag. Things not to say to a Googletard: "You know, in Europe, we have footpaths", "How much is this costing you again?"

(For the sake of my comments section I'm not including the People's Map in today's list of tards.)

What the neotards and the paleotards have in common is that the world would not change if they disappeared overnight. Maybe some surveyors would have to learn how to use a calculator and a Rotring pen again, I dunno.

The ARC/Tards aren't going to disappear any time soon, but the neotards might. You think TomTom are going to let people keep deriving from TeleAtlas data the way they're doing at the moment, without wanting a slice of the action themselves? Right, and monkeys will fly out of my butt. Note also how Google is now encouraging all the neotards to plot their mashups on Google itself (it's called 'My Maps'), supposedly to empower you to mash up two sources together, but really so that Google, not you, ownz0rs all the rich data.

OpenStreetMap is the exception because we're actually creating stuff. If we disappeared overnight then there'd be no free data, and guys like the Cambridge cycle dudes would have to stop making their maps. Also, even if we do occasionally have some tards in the OSM community, Fake Steve's First Law of Crowd-Sourcing says that as you get more guys together, the sum total of cluelessness decreases.

So, when Bubble 2.0 bursts, it's auf wiedersehen Plazes and Platial - but vorsprung durch technik OSM.

Incidentally, there is one bunch of neotard frigwit hackers that I will give house room, and that's those crazy guys at DOPPLR!. I've put a DOPPLR! panel on my sidebar now so you can follow Fake Steve around the world. Much love to Don DOPPLR! Jr for his awesome frigwit creation. Have fun.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Great party. Ok so we actually had to get our mobiles out and set up a conference call just to hear each other, the pub was that noisy, but - hey - that's the power of the crowd. Anyway there's another opportunity for Fake Steve fanlove next week if you missed me.

Much love to Dr Strangelove for having the cojones to comment on my People's Glorious Five-Year Map post. It's kind of glamorous that you have a guy from Basingstoke, although how he gets to work I don't know because you don't really have any roads there (compare). To be fair though, your guys do appear to have the difference between green and red roads sussed, which is something our lot always have trouble with. You should tell us how you did it.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The People's Map is deeply fucked

Hey. Today I want to talk to you about The People's Map.

The People's Map is this effort by some cartographer guys with beards to do OpenStreetMap, except without the fun bit (parties). Also, they don't have any Germans and take it from me, not having Germans is a serious blow to any collaborative mapping website. Also, the guys with beards actually make less sense than the Germans even though they're speaking English.

They do have this really great imagery, the whole site is owned by an imagery company. Selling aerial imagery was a good idea for about two months in 1999. Now everybody has downloaded Google Earth for free (which our friend Ed invented) so good luck with that.

So these guys have created the People's Map and it's taken them about three years and they now have five roads and an editor that doesn't work properly. Meanwhile we've mapped half of Britain and the entire Netherlands.

Anyway, it's a little known fact that Nick and I actually worked on the People's Map back in the day. Unfortunately, code you can buy but clue has to be earned (or crowdsourced). If there's one thing that's been contentious in OSM and they might be able to improve upon with hindsight, it's the license - but look at theirs:

  1. You may copy the People's Map except when you may not.
  2. All copyright is retained by the People's Map where prohibited by applicable laws and/or your mum.
  3. Exceptions may be granted for non-profit organisations in the area bounded by Ordnance Survey grid square SK23 on a Thursday, if you pay us.
  4. Reproduction is not permitted at scale 1:100,000 or above. What is this pixel shit anyway? I want a paper map.
That's not only unfree, it's barely English.

What we figured and they haven't is: it's the community, stupid. You're not going to get hundreds of mappers pounding the streets of Reigate just so that some guy can afford to buy himself platinum-plated beard-clippers. But when you contribute to OpenStreetMap you get a warm glow of satisfaction, especially if you stand near the t@h server, which is currently heating the eastern seaboard of the US because some German dude has decided to request the entire Norwegian coastline at pebble-level detail or something.

Siooma, motherfuckers. Siooma.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Medway mapping party

For those crazy dudes who can't get enough OSM, we've got a mapping party in medway this weekend after the Christmas party.

I've been unilateralist and nominated a venue for the morning, in Rochester. Hope to see lots of people there - I mis-spent much of my youth in Walderslade, so it will be great to go back and see where the school hall burnt down and so on.


Could I clarify that the school hall was nothing to do with me and they were someone else's matches anyway. Ok so I am torching the business model of the entire geodata industry as we speak but that's coincidence.

Could I also clarify that I in no ways stand to benefit if an accident happens to the Ordnance Survey's current headquarters and all their outdated paleotard equipment shortly after they vacate it for a new one. Ed might want to comment about whether he's still a signatory on the insurance policy though.


Hey. Awesome to be back with you guys, we're all stoked here at ZXV towers about the party on Friday. I've got my OSM party outfit (jeans and T-shirt) and Nick's doing the MC role again. People are coming from far-out places like Sheffield and some place that begins with N so you have to be there.

I know my adoring public are hanging on their RSS feeds for the latest from El Coasto. So I want to keep sharing some of the latest open goodness with you. But on the other hand I don't want to post too often and seem needy like... well, you know, some guys who just read some shit on a geo site and get all snippy because they spotted it first.

So here's some shit I spotted on a geek site instead. Sometimes in OpenStreetMap the cartographers get a bit stressy about the license, they say they can't make their maps with our data and I'm like, well, that's totally not my problem, you guys have to adapt and make your money from something else, and hey, maybe you could shave some of those beards off while you're there.

So this post on Slashdot sums up exactly what I feel. It's actually in a thread about PNDs directing truckers through some little village near some place that begins with N or something. But I think our cartographer friends can learn from it.

Barrow Gurney, instead of trying to do away with this new source of traffic, adapt! Enjoy the opportunity of having all these truck drivers going through your locality to develop your economy and move on to the next level!

Everyone knows a truck driver craves fornication with women. Have whores! Put some money into turning an old farm in dereliction into a brothel and import truckloads of east European prostitutes! Then build your economy around this, build hotels, fast-food restaurants, gynaecology clinics, and soon enough you'll be the city every European truck driver wants to stop in!


By the way. Did you guys notice Dr Tim Strangelove from People's Map on the comments? Now, Tim and I have our differences and I've got some stuff to share with you about People's Map soon. But at least he posted and you don't get that from the ESRI guys. Peace out. Have fun.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


So you should totally come to our OpenStreetMap Christmas party on Friday. OSM people really know how to party and you can guarantee that there'll be at least five people discussing the highway tag and three people taking a GPS apart. Sometimes we have provocative T-shirts saying "I master my own map" or "Google Maps can suck my highway=private", and I'm hoping for a bit of Fake SteveC fanlove there too. (Not in the biblical sense.)

It'll be totally wild. Everyone welcome. Except unfree-tards.

Monday, December 3, 2007


So this Google guy's started a blog and I figure I should do one too.

Basically Google are shitting themselves now because we've started this idea of collaborative mapping. We don't need to blog because we're a collaborative project which means we have no secrets, apart from some really exciting stuff I'm working on at the moment which I can't tell you about.

But - ok, this is the thing - Google don't get it, they think you can just keep all your contributors like hamsters in a cage and get all the cheap data without building the community, which is like totally - no! Already the smart guys are giving us their data and selling out. It's like Linux all over again, except we have cooler parties and more Germans. What is it with all these German guys?

But like I say, we pioneered this idea of crowdsourcing. So on the way back from the office tonight I'm going to crowdsource a bus (hitch a ride) and it just totally subverts all the big guys and you have to keep up. The bus guys have been spending all this money on hardware (bendy buses) and we're like that's so over. Apparently there are some guys at Waterloo Bridge who have crowdsourced their income by asking lots of people for a little bit of money each, maybe I'll stop by and check these guys out. Agile not fragile - that's my new motto.

Incidentally some of you guys have asked me why our new company this week is called Cloud Made. Well we got some Japanese VC funding and they kept calling it that. It's a free market so if they're prepared to pay for it we'll call it what they want. We've told them it'll cost more to rename our other project to OpenStleetMap though.