Commemorating my 2 year anniversary in OGF

Posted by Luciano on 31 January 2016 in Korean (한국어)

Can geofiction cure cancer? Probably not. But it makes surviving it more enjoyable, maybe.

Two years ago, on this day (Jan 31), I joined Opengeofiction. I had just finished a major cancer treatment a few months before. In surviving my cancer, I am thankful to five main groups of people:

  • 1. My friends and family, in their many different countries - for supporting me emotionally
  • 2. My colleagues, coworkers and my generous boss - for making it possible for me to undergo treatment without losing my job
  • 3. The amazingly efficient Korean healthcare system and the kind doctors and staff at the National Cancer Center - world-class care, and cheap, too
  • 4. My students - for keeping me intellectually and socially engaged and demonstrating the promise of humanity
  • 5. OGF - for providing an escape from dull hours and discomfort, with its endless distraction in imaginary places

I'm posting this here because of number 5.

In June, 2013, I had been diagnosed with stage three cancer. I had undergone major surgery, a month-long hospitalization, and two months of radiation treatments. I was weak, I had lost 40 kg, and my chances of survival were still only 50%. I had returned to work only part-time, and was unable to be as mobile or as active as I had been before - I didn't have the same stamina to go hiking every weekend. I had a lot of chronic pain and a lot of time to kill. I needed a new hobby.

OGF rescued me. In my teenage years I spent my time drawing many, many maps, all on paper, of imaginary cities, countries and planets. All sorts of worlds, from fantasy to sci fi to "parallel Earth" styles. I decided to try to "recover" one of these old maps in this new, digital environment.

In January of 2014, there was no waiting period for a territory, but the vast majority of the territories were "owned" - mostly by inactive users (since then, a lot of these inactive territories have been freed up, as inactive users are removed). As I recall, when I arrived, there were only two territories available to choose from. I selected the username Ardisphere, and requested AR025, and began mapping immediately.

There were two towns already developed in my territory, but neither of them were very well mapped, and neither had names. One of those "legacy" cities became what is now downtown Caracol, and the other became the west end of Cabo Inglés. From the start, however, I had the intention of using the territory to develop the Ardisphere, a country I'd mapped on paper some decades ago. I didn't have access to any sketches of that country (or any of my other countries). Most of my old paper geofictions are lost, and what remain are probably in storage somewhere not easily accessible (i.e. on a different continent).

I have many of those geofictions in my memory, however, so I set out to draw the Ardisphere from memory, adapting it to its new locale. There was a lot of adaptation required - the original Ardisphere was a peninsula, and was rotated 180 degrees from its current orientation (Villa was at the northeast end of the country, at the point where the peninsula joined the mainland). But think I've managed to make it fit in pretty well (to the point that the country's current shape feels like "it's always been that way," and most of the original towns are retained (although rearranged), along with whole new additions, such as the two minority-language "Colonias" and the extensive work to flesh out the Tlonic, Albalongan and Altazorian native precursors that I hadn't thought much about in the country's original incarnation.

Over these two years I have touched more than 4 million objects (my recent survey effort showed 4195479 objects with my username - 3658907 nodes 533096 ways 3476 relations - the nature of OGF data means that is not everything I touched, only everything where I was the most recent user to touch them) in the OGF world. Mostly, this is work in the Ardisphere, but I have also taken some initial steps to recreate another of my old geofictions (Mahhal), I have dropped various details into some of the "blue" countries, and I have contributed to admin work in the Western Hemisphere. Additionally, I made and still maintain the OGF wiki's "main page" and I have become a volunteer admin on the OGF website. I have learned a great deal about GIS and about the OSM platform in particular, as well as the arcane arts of wikification and perl scripting.

I still have some health issues, and OGF remains a great way to kill time and distract myself. Last week I underwent a "bone-scraping" procedure to remove a small amount necrotic bone that was killed by the radiation two years ago. Whenever I find myself sitting in my apartment somewhat immobilized like that, I enjoy being able to "escape" with this creative enterprise.

Anyway, this is probably more than anyone wants to read. What I want to say to the OGF community is simply - thank you. It's really great to be a part of this collaborative hallucination we're creating.

TL;DR: I had cancer; I survived; Thank you, OGF people, for being part of that!

Happy mapping.

Location: 중앙동 (Barrio Centro), 과수리 [果樹里] (La Huerta), 정토북군 (Condado Tierra Pura Norte), Colonia Coreana, 화구체연합

Comment from deltanz on 31 January 2016 at 07:39

Wow, what an amazing story of survival. Thank you for sharing that with us, I really believe that working with things that we love may really be the best remedy for an kind of illness, and that seemed to be truth in your case. I'm really happy for you, Luciano, and I'm happy to be part of this community as well.

I'll keep my fingers crossed while we wait for your full recovery. And congratulations on your 2 year anniversary, your work is truly incredible, I hope I can achieve something at least similar to the work you do right now!

I wish you all the best! Take care and happy mapping!


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Comment from isleño on 31 January 2016 at 08:39

Geofiction is a form of art... and one that is not easy to master.

To do it well requires so much more than just inspiration and creativity. It demands perceptiveness and thoughtfulness, intelligence and innovation, patience and perseverance... not to mention aesthetic sense and extraordinary attention to detail.

You are always humble about your talent, Luciano, but that doesn't make you any less talented. We should be thanking you for all your contributions here... because your "escape" is art, and your art is beautiful.

And not only that, but it's a pleasure working with you, always. :-) Happy mapping,


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Comment from histor on 31 January 2016 at 10:04

What shall I say?

Indeed this fictional mapping can be a strong way to set thinking in an optimistic way. And can set free power of creation (as painting or writing). All my best wishes to you, Luciano.

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Comment from Leowezy on 31 January 2016 at 12:07

Although the underlying cause for you being on this platform might be a history of strokes of fate, which you have fought in an unbelievably brave and encouraging manner, I am truly grateful to have met (and still engage with) you and all the other amazing members of this community. Appreciating the work of others, especially yours, while being able to showcase and discuss one's own imaginary places in such a heartening environment is truly incredible.

I've said it multiple times, and I'll say it again, your presence on here is a gift to all of us who just like to express their creativity and imagination in such a proactive manner. Even a year ago I'd never dared to believe that one day I'd be able to share one of my biggest passions in life with people from all over the world, including one particular kind, amazing and inspiring middle school teacher from South Korea. So thank you, Luciano, and all the best wishes for your future.

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Comment from Demuth on 31 January 2016 at 13:00

I too am so grateful to have you here, a key part of this community. Your extreme generosity always makes me want to be a better person myself - not just because of the time you volunteer to make this a great experience for all of us using OGF, but your generosity towards other mappers in your comments, suggestions and just plain fixing things and helping individual mappers. You take everyone seriously and treat us with respect and common sense no matter how snippy or outlandish we may act sometimes. I can't imagine OGF without you, you are such an important person in setting the tone that makes this a place where we all love to hang out.

I'm rooting very hard for you to get well, keep up the fight Luciano! And I'm proud to be a small part of your recovery so far. I know it's highly unlikely for it to be possible, but if there's anything I can do, don't hesitate to ask.

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Comment from Bstn on 31 January 2016 at 13:12

I am relatively new to the community and OGF and looking at the progress of your work is a huge inspiration for me and also for the others. I am feeling with you and I am also sure that you will fight and furthermore gift us your creativity and inspirate us.

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Comment from Pawl on 31 January 2016 at 21:08

How wonderful that OGF could play a part in your recovery, and that you have come to play such a valuable part in this extraordinary community. All the best in dealing with your remaining health issues, and I'm looking forward to your many more contributions to OGF!

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Comment from Ernestpcosby on 31 January 2016 at 21:13

I have to second what everyone has said here, but especially what Demuth said- not only in your quality maps, but in your interaction with us mappers do we see the great person you are. I know that you stuck by me even when my city was literally halfway into the ocean XP and youre always kind to all of our mappers. Your recovery story is quite inspiring, and I believe I can speak for all of us when I say OGF wouldn't be the same without you. :)

And as you always say, Happy Mapping. :D

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Comment from Portopolis on 31 January 2016 at 23:54

"I've said it multiple times, and I'll say it again, your presence on here is a gift to all of us who just like to express their creativity and imagination in such a proactive manner. Even a year ago I'd never dared to believe that one day I'd be able to share one of my biggest passions in life with people from all over the world, including one particular kind, amazing and inspiring middle school teacher from South Korea. So thank you, Luciano, and all the best wishes for your future."- Leowezy sums it up here. I never could have believed that their were so many like-minded people who had an interest in mapping. Luciano was one of the first to approach me when I joined OGF, him along with other users have made this experience very pleasant. As someone in High School, even my passion for mapping helped very little. I have been hardcore mapping since about 12 years old and have drawn easily over 100 maps with at least 1000 different cities and city names, most of these maps forgotten and thrown away. Were I live in the U.S, has a huge Geography Bee. From 6th grade my goal was to make it to Nationals and in 8th Grade I finally made it to the state level being the top 50 out of thousands who participated in the Geography contest. I failed and since their was no High school version of the competition, I had failed for good. After three years of answering and memorizing questions and staring at google maps. Looking at growth rates and studying everything from Physical Geography to Urban Geography I had not only failed I had gotten out on two of the most ridiculous questions. Which U.S State produces more oil? Louisiana or Montana? Also were are the Nicobar Islands? (I answered Montana and Sri Lanka), Montana is ridiculous because my dad used to work on an oil field in Louisiana. Sri Lanka is ridiculous because, the first thought that came to my head was India but I thought it couldn't be that easy.

I couldn't put any of this knowledge to use and I spent my days thinking what could I do with all this knowledge besides pass a Human Geography test. Then I found OGF and the rest is history.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 1 February 2016 at 05:15

We find humanity in strange places - and not always on maps. But I think of what OGF would be without your contributions. It would be less creative. It would be less imaginative. More importantly it would be much less open. Your gifts to OGF aren't just in your countries, they are in the way you have reached out to other mappers to inspire us and to help us. Happy mapping, and much, much more, Udi

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Comment from Yuanls on 1 February 2016 at 21:16

You are a remarkable person Luciano, and I congratulate you. I, and the entire OGF community have benefited massively from your contributions and advice. I doubt that I would have gotten to the extent I have reached if what you had contributed did not exist.

I never knew mapping was so popular a hobby until I looked here. I had been continuously mapping since the age of 6 (no joke), and for some reason, I still retain many of my old maps. As of May 2015, they were stacked on a small shelf, and that pile of paper was beginning to top 20cm or so, and getting increasingly damaged. As a result, I looked online to see if there were any places where I could do mapping on the internet. When I first found OGF, I was blown away, seeing such an established community of users, and how detailed some of the maps were. No doubt you've played a significant part in that.

OGF has made such a footprint on my life, giving me a new creative outlet with no finger smudges, torn paper or broken pencils. It has staved out boredom on innumerable occasions and, most importantly, allowed me to create links with other mappers from all across the world. All of a sudden, I wasn't so alone anymore. I could converse with people who share common interests and feel as sense of community.

Thank you, one thousand times over!


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Comment from Luciano on 2 February 2016 at 00:14

Thank you, everyone, for you comments and kindnesses.

Honestly, the "community" aspect of OGF is the most surprising part. Unlike when mapping alone, in OGF if you have a period when you lack inspiration, you can spend your time looking at other people's work, getting ideas. There are many times when I've seen someone else's wiki entry or map work and it's given me some idea or reminder of something I wanted to work on. That is what has made OGF a hobby, and not just a tool to make geofictions.

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Comment from Kalh79 on 2 February 2016 at 08:32

Guau!! La verdad es que tu historia es impresionante, eres un ejemplo a seguir Luciano, como usario/administrador siempre podemos contar contigo. OGF es una gran comunidad donde podemos plasmar nuestra imaginación y creación, y además compartirla con varios usuarios. Mucho ánimo y muchas gracias por estar ahí siempre.

Feliz Mapeo,


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Comment from Sarepava on 2 February 2016 at 12:51

You've been a great help and inspiration to so many of us here. Fantastically detailed and believable maps and culture for your country, and valuable technical advice. I always love looking at the maps and articles about the Ardisphere because it's such a richly conceived idea, and the detail just goes deeper and deeper.

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Comment from Thunderbird on 2 February 2016 at 20:36

I know I only recently found OGF and cannot comment for the past, but even for the past two months i've been mapping here, Luciano you have been such an amazing source of knowledge. "Ardisphere" always reminds me of how good my country could someday look. The feedback you give to me and others is another big help and I always get good ideas from some of your comments. I would argue that you are one of the reasons the community is so amazing here!

Your story is truly inspirational and while I cannot compare any struggle in my life to yours, I am still so grateful for this community. I would have never thought there were so many other people who had an interest in creating fictional maps (something i've been doing since I was 4 or 5). I've always been interested in maps and now I finally have an outlet for that interest.

Thank you, Luciano, for volunteering so much of your time here helping others with their maps as an admin. Your feedback is always appreciated and I look forward to seeing more of your work!

In liberty (as they say in Jefferson) -Thunderbird

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Comment from BMSOUZA on 4 February 2016 at 02:29

What can I say about Luciano, "meu amigo gringo"?? Always ready to help anyone, I am very happy to find people like Luciano. Of course, in OGF, he (and his maps) are one of my inspirations to look for creating more detailed maps and wiki articles... The other users said all the best words I would say to this friend, hehehe, so... all I can do is wishing the best to Luciano, in all areas of his life!

Grande abraço, meu amigo gringo!!! Bruno Moreira

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Comment from wangi on 5 February 2016 at 01:21


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Comment from Luciano on 7 February 2016 at 00:48

Anyway thanks again for the all the positive notes and feedback - sorry if it was a bit too sefl-indulgent, I just wanted to commemorate my time in OGF up until now. Happy mapping!

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