Recent diary entries
A somewhat different topic than usual.
If anyone is looking for mapping inspiration, or just out of curiosity, there is a twitter account called @unchartedatlas. It is a "bot" which produces imaginary maps "randomly" - obviously the design of the algorithm is probably pretty complex - the creator discusses it here. Some of the maps aren't very realistic, but others are remarkable.
Tárrases is open for business!
The tiny city-state, in an ambiguous relationship with its giant, undemocratic neighbor Mahhal, has a history of laissez-faire capitalism and open borders. Because of this, it is a popular place for international brands seeking to get a foothold in Mahhal, and in any event there are almost no barriers to entry to the small domestic market for any international brand, manufacturer, franchise or retail chain.
The country's surprisingly well-educated, cosmopolitan workforce typically receives below-market wages due to the country's isolated location, uncertain political future, and cold, damp antarctic climate, with 20-hour-long winter nights. This is a capitalist paradise!
I have completed my landuse and landcover relations for Tárrases, and so I'm ready to get down to the business of business.
If you want to place your retail or manufacturing business in Tárrases, here's how to do it. I want to make it easy.
- 1) One-time application, on a "per user" basis rather than on a "per-business" basis. Essentially, I will approve you as a user and then trust you to place whatever you wish in the country. That said, if you place something without prior permission, it will be removed and I'll be less likely to approve you in the future.
- 2) Please place businesses logically. The ENTIRE COUNTRY is now "zoned". Retail businesses should be in commercially-zoned areas (landuse=commercial), although small retail chains like petrol stations, restaurants or convenience stores may be placed in residentially-zoned areas (landuse=residential); manufacturing or trading operations (warehouses) belong in industrially-zoned areas (landuse=industrial); if the spot you want is not zoned correctly, please consult with me first
- 3) For retail businesses of all kinds, place NODES - do not tag the buildings. Most of Tárrases is very high density, and most businesses share buildings with other businesses or apartments - even the little convenience store on the corner has an apartment on the second floor - so tagging the building doesn't make sense
- 4) For insdustrial operations, create a multipolygon relation, tagged man_made=works or other appropriate tag, around the building(s) and parking areas surrounding. However, if you're not comfortable working with relations, go ahead and place a node in a central location to your business complex, and I'll build the relation later.
- 5) You may "share" existing buildings (best idea) or make new ones as long as they fit with the character of their area.
- 6) Pay attention to the topography of an area when placing new buildings (see the TopoMap). Tárrases is VERY mountainous, and flat land is hard to find in some neighborhoods. Therefore do not make new roads (even service roads).
- 7) There are no rules about language - I want the country to have a cosmopolitan feel, so the more languages on businesses and signs, the better.
- 8) Save edits frequently and work in small areas (in e.g. JOSM), since this new approach will mean we'll all be overlapping some in our edits.
- 9) If you add multiple locations of a single brand, please add the business name to my work-in-progress business names listing.
If you're interested in placing businesses in Tárrases, send me a message
I have followed up with some additional thought about this challenge in my bliki.
For my challenge last month, "Let's do something blue," I think I did pretty well. Mostly, I'm proud of the Irhoborin Refugee Settlement, in Duvar, Commonia. I also did some work on administrative divisions in various blue countries, and I laid down a first draft for the Kshang Native Lands Area in Rhododactylia - but that last still needs a LOT of work.
How did you do? I saw some people doing some great stuff in blue areas this past month.
Actually, the main thing I worked on this past month has been my little city-state of Tárrases. I will post about that separately, at some point.
Thinking about names
I wasn't sure what to make as a challenge this month. So I decided to just think about what I would be working on.
For me, names on a map are important. Nothing is more disappointing for me than to see an area that looks well-mapped, realistic, and interesting, only to zoom in and find that most of the streets and other objects have no names attached to them. It detracts from the realism of the map, and makes the whole thing feel more like a kind abstract art that happens to be map-like. I know names are not interesting to everyone - if names are not your thing, then this challenge is not for you.
I try very hard to name things on my maps as I build them, but I'm certainly not perfect in this respect. Sometimes my names can become repetitive or unimaginative - but sometimes names in the real-world are repetitive and unimaginative, too. How many places bear the name "Washington" in the US? 100s if not 1000s. How many places bear the name "Santa María" in Latin America? How many places bear the name "Gwangju" in Korea?
Anyway, the challenge this month is to try to increase the number of names on your map, and improve the quality, consistency and "story" behind your naming schemes, whether based on real-world languages or your own invented language.
"Name Density" - toward an objective measure of map quality
I have been trying to develop a concept of "name density" - the number of named objects per square kilometer. Here is an example.
I downloaded a typical, well-mapped area of OSM, in the northeast corner of the Basque Country in Spain. It's a small area, but it's a rectangle that's roughly 16.31 sq km, including about 10% water, with both urban and rural features.
I used osmfilter's statistics function, and very interestingly I got 1631 names. That means exactly 100 names/sq km.
That was such a suspcious first result that I grabbed an .osm file I have of Mexico City, Delegación Cuauhtemoc, the neighborhood where I used to live. It's a bit bigger, being 44.56 sq km, all urban. It has few open areas at all compared to the first area I did, but the quality of the mapping is also much less thorough.
I used the statistics function on this file and got 2793 names per sq km, or a name density of about 63 names/sq km.
After that, I got carried away, and I spent several hours doing a bunch of different areas. I also looked at some OGF locations. Here is a screenshot of the spreadsheet I made.
Obviously, the quality of mapping might also influence the name density of these areas. My current home in Ilsan, Korea, is a good example of this. There are probably a million residents in the enclosed area that I downloaded, yet the OSM mapping quality is notably sparse.
More importantly, however, is to remember that an urban area will obviously have a higher name density than a rural area. It might be more interesting to come up with a ratio of population density to name density. This would actually be a kind of indicator of map completeness and map quality. But it's beyond my current ability to do this, because it means getting downloaded OSM areas that match known population figures with some precision. I think it's an interesting goal.
For now, let's keep things simpler than that.
Luciano's Mapper's Challenge #5 - August, 2016 - WHAT'S IN A NAME?
As you can see, the last area I did in my spreadsheet was my current obsession, the city state of Tárrases. The result that I got, at 29 names/km sq, is about in line with what I would expect for this stage in my work there. I was not disappointed at all. But it gave me an idea for a goal for my challenge for this month.
The total land area of Tárrases is 203 km sq. My goal for this challenge is to raise the city-state's name density to 100 names/sq km. That means there need to be about 20,000 named objects on the map. I'm going to have to put in a lot of little shops and restaurants!
If you want to attempt this challenge, choose some area (whatever size you're comfortable working with), and try for a "real world" level of name density - whatever is appropriate for the type of mapping style and type of area (rural or urban) you're working on.
Happy mapping, and happy August
I have posted a rant on my Bliki.
I'm not going to work on blue countries for a while.
Like clockwork, on July first, the monsoon began here in the Korean Peninsula. It has rained for two days straight.
Regarding the June challenge: I didn't do great, but I will consider that I did the best I could. You can read my updates at my "bliki."
I'd love to see results of other people's work on this challenge - post a comment, a diary entry, or get creative in the wiki to show your progress.
Luciano's Mapper's Challenge #4 - July, 2016 - LET'S DO SOMETHING BLUE
This challenge is based on a suggestion from Ūdilugbulgidħū.
Some of our "blue," free-to-map, community territories are doing pretty well. Gobrassanya is an excellent example. On the other hand, many of the "blue" territories are depressingly messed up.
It would be great to see some focused effort on the part of LOTS OF COMPETENT USERS to add something to a community territory, or to help clean up badly conceived objects or "newbie-messes." This can take many forms. Some suggestions:
- adding some new administrative division, town or neighborhood
- cleaning up some specific feature across a broader area (rivers, roads, railroads, admin divisions, natural landcovers, etc.)
- setting up wiki articles or wiki Talk: pages to help the community more easily collaborate on community territories - the Gobras City collaboration page is an excellent example of a "blue" territory collaboration page.
The mapper's challenge:
- Easy - spend 25% of your July OGF time in somewhere "blue"
- Medium - spend 50% of your July OGF time in somewhere "blue"
- Hard - spend 100% of your July OGF time in somewhere "blue"
IMPORTANT ground rule: never significantly alter or delete work without first making some effort to find out who made it (this is easy both on the map window and in JOSM, where you have the ability to query any object's history) and make sure they are OK with it. Many of the "messes" in the blue territories are made by users who are no longer active, in which case, no need to worry. But if you recognize a user name attached to some work, common courtesy is to contact that person and find out what idea they might have about that object.
ALSO IMPORTANT: This is NOT an invitation to imperialistically expand your own country's influence or culture. Instead, try to think of ways to give these blue countries THEIR OWN character, history, etc. If your home country uses English, maybe work in a blue spot that isn't English-using. If your home country is rich, try to do something poor or "developing." Challenge yourself, and push your boundaries.
I am going to attempt the "Medium" challenge. I will probably work hard to rationalize admin divisions in Mecyna and Rhododactylia (maybe making some multimaps for them). I may also work on collaboration pages for these countries. Lastly, I have an idea to develop the Annosimia state in Commonia, which I created some time ago but never did much work on. It would be a very poor region - I would model it on interior rainforest-bordering-savannah in South America, perhaps Bolivia or Paraguay. I also want to try to think of ways, ON THE MAP, to represent the supposed ongoing Commonian conflict: AN bases, military checkpoints, refugee camps, vast brownfields of abandoned or failed industry. Look at the brownfields of Grozny, Chechnya, or the orphanages and police-station zones of Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
I have been experimenting with an extension to the wiki for about a month now, and I'm ready to present some results.
This extension makes it possible to show tabular information in the wiki which is sourced DIRECTLY from the OGF database. If you set things up correctly, you don't ever have to maintain a seperate wiki table of objects in the OGF database - you can add objects on the map, "enroll" them in the correct collection, then they will simply "appear" in the table in the wiki.
If you set up the "collection" relation (discussed HERE), and copy the manner of enrolling locations in the collection, with appropriate tags on the locations, you can list locations of any business, organization or agency you want.
It's quite complicated, and not really for beginners. However, if you're feeling brave, I welcome people to try it out. I present Ardisphere's international discount retailing chain Martímart as a working example, HERE.
You can open the wiki page for edit and study the wikicode. You can download a few of the Martímart locations and study them. Please try not to break anything - just look at how it's put together, but don't edit them until you're sure you understand. But then you can copy the way it is all set up and make your own.
One note: for it to work properly, no tags included in the table list are optional - thus in the Martímart example, in order for my "ldata:note" to work and show up in the table, I have to provide a value for each tag for each location. Hence "¡Discuentos impossibles!" as a note at each location.
Oh, and by the way... If you want to add Martímart locations to your country, PLEASE DO - NO PERMISSION NEEDED. Let's see if we can watch the chain grow without ever having to edit the wiki.
This diary entry started as comment on Yuanls's recent Commonia diary entry, but I decided to give it its own diary spot, to see what kind of comments it attracts. I think the conversation on that diary entry is very productive and valuable, but I wanted to approach the issues raised there in a slightly different way.
The point of entry for this discussion is: how can we better support new users in a way that leads to higher-quality mapping and less inadvertent vandalism? Just this morning, I had to send admin messages to two new users who clearly did not understand where it is OK to start mapping.
Anyway, I think the thing we need to remember is that not all new users are the same. Some have a vision clear in their minds, and the blank spaces in Commonia are what they need - a place to try to realize their vision. With time, they can learn the tools and do a great job creating a new place out of whole cloth, while a place like Gobrassanya feels restrictive. Other new mappers, however, clearly prefer or need a more detailed framework.
When I arrived at OGF, the blue territories existed but there was no waiting period for a new territory. Thus my first mapping was in my first territory. If forced to, I would have contribued first not to Gobrassanya but in trying to build a completely new town in a "blank" place such as Commonia.
I have frequently thought that returning to a "no waiting period" system might actually work out better. The reason the waiting period was adopted was because it was a lot of work for for admin to assign territories to users who by and large would map a few motorways-to-nowhere and then promptly disappear. But... if we could develop an automated system for assigning free territories... OK, I'm just daydreaming. But I'd like to encourage thinking "out of the box" about what I think of as the "newbie problem."
Just a question for speculation: what if there were no blue territories, and we made them all purple, but with different degrees of management? Gobrassanya is blue, but it has several de facto "managers" including indyroads, isleño, and more recently wangi and Bstn have played excellent roles there. Likewise I have taken that role, to some degree, with Rhododactylia and Drull. Yuanls and Udi have stepped to the plate with Commonia.
What if we changed the "manner of entry" for OGF to one which explicitly required users to seek permission to draw their first bits? For example, imagine an alternate "sign up" path where you choose a territory BEFORE you get a user id and begin mapping. Could this work without being too much of an admin burden? I'm not sure this would be a popular idea, but again, if we could broaden the responsiblity for granting those first permissions to a wider group of users, not just the so-called admins...
Again, it's all speculation and brainstorming. Thoughts? Let's focus on ideas or suggestions for improving the new user experience and lessening the impact of "badly informed" and "uncommitted mappers" (both in blue territories and in badly-mapped claimed and unclaimed territories).
This is just a short announcement. Last week I made a new "Power User's Dashboard" on the wiki. I was trying to create an alternative homepage for "experienced users." I have been very pleased with it. It's now my home landing page for OGF when I log on.
Give it a try.
Let me know what you think. Is it useful? Any suggestions for additions or changes (keeping in mind what's technically feasible)?
Regarding the May challenge: I believe I failed - mostly due to lack of time. Nevertheless, I feel much happier with Tárrases now than I felt before - I have a better idea how it will finally look. You can read my updates at my "bliki."
Others have made better progress. Comment below or at your own diary entry or wiki sandbox (as Sarepava or BMSOUZA have done) about your results for May.
Luciano's Mapper's Challenge #3 - June, 2016
My new challenge is a focus on administrative divisions.
In fact, I've already done a lot of work on this, but I'd like to take it further, toward completion.
So first, an intro-level discussion of the administrative divisions of countries.
Most countries have administrative divisions - of many different names, levels, and functions. The list is very long: states, provinces, counties, municipalities, etc.
It's best to think in terms of levels:
- 1st level: states (US, Mexico), provinces (Canada, South Korea), federal subjects (Russia)...
- 2nd level: counties/parishes/boroughs (US), municipalities (Mexico), counties/cities (South Korea) ...
- 3rd level: cities/townships (US), districts and townships (South Korea) ...
In the OSM tagging system, these are indicated by the admin_level tag. Each country uses the admin_level tag differently, both in the real world and in OGF (see here for the way some people have deployed admin_level in OGF).
The best practice is to set up relations for each administrative division. I have set up almost 500 administrative divisions in Mahhal for 1st and 2nd levels, and almost that number in the Ardisphere.
1st level divisions are complete in both countries, and not likely to change much. 2nd level divisions are mostly complete, too. What I really want to focus on is the 3rd level divisions, especially in the Ardisphere.
I have conceptualized a system with both "autonomous" cities and towns (i.e. with independent city and town legislatures and governments) and "non-autonomous" "municipalities," rather like townships in the US, which are really just ways for the next higher-level governments to organize community services (rural schools, clinics, roads, etc.).
There are roughly 70 2nd level divisions in the Ardisphere, and if I create between 10 and 20 towns, cities and municipalities for each 2nd level division (commune/county/shire/borough), then I will need between 700 and 1400 named 3rd level divisions (with corresponding relations) for the Ardisphere.
Compare this with, say, Argentina, which has a similar population (but much larger territory) to the Ardisphere. Argentina has about 360 2nd level divisions, and maybe 1000 3rd level divisions, but the category is incomplete. The US has approx. 3100 2nd level divisions and almost 20,000 "incorporated places" (3rd level divisions, but not complete coverage, i.e. that doesn't count rural townships).
My goal is to complete this schema for the Ardisphere, and create some fun multimaps to support the results (see my multimap of 2nd level divisions, here - it needs updating as there have been some changes).
The mapper's challenge:
- Easy - work on "completing" your administrative divisions for your country, with correct relations, down to 1st level, including wiki lists and articles (perhaps stubs but with infoboxes in place)
- Medium - work on "completing" your administrative divisions for your country, with correct relations, down to 2nd level, including wiki lists and articles (perhaps stubs but with infoboxes in place)
Hard - work on "completing" your administrative divisions for your country, with correct relations, down to 3rd level, including wiki lists and articles (perhaps stubs but with infoboxes in place)
((edit: of course, creating so many wiki articles is not a requirement!))
I am going to attempt some mix between "Medium" and "Hard" for the Ardisphere - I've already done "Easy."
If you follow my "recommended tagging practices" (alluded to here and here, but admittedly not very clear) I would even be happy to create a multimap for you for your divisions. The main point is that the multimaps are generated using only map-data and tags, so if you have the right info tagged in your relations, a multimap like I made for Commonia is a trivial matter of running the script.
Note that creating even only stub articles for 3rd level divisions would entail making maybe more than 1000 wiki articles. This may require my inventing OGF wiki's first "bot" - but I've been thinking about that, anyway.
I hope everyone is having a great Northern-Hemisphere-Spring-Southern-Hemisphere-Fall.
Last year, I created our wikipedia-style Main Page for our wiki, with its "featured" sections. At first, I updated each of the featured sections every week, and later I transitioned to doing so once a month.
Recently, I have been neglecting this aspect of my work on OGF, and I think it is time to say I would like to focus on other projects and priorities in OGF.
So I am hoping we can find one or more volunteers to take over the curatorial responsibility for the four "featured" sections of the Main Page. You don't need "admin" privileges on the wiki to do this job - I created the new Main Page before I joined the admin team.
The main things that are needed are:
- 1) A basic-level understanding of the concepts behind markup (i.e. HTML and wiki-markup)
- 2) A willingness to learn how to do the updates - your first update might take a few hours, since you'll be learning the process.
- 3) A willingness to commit about an hour of your time for each subsequent update - if you update once a month, that's one hour a month.
- 4) A willingness to try to be diverse, fair and objective in choosing materials to feature
- 5) A desire to contribute to the OGF community and make a great "gateway" for new visitors
- 6) In the event that we have more than one volunteer, you need to be willing to work well with each other (i.e. share responsibilities, etc.)
I have already created some very detailed documentation for how to update the "Featured Article" section. I will try to add documentation for the other sections when I have time, but I think it is less necessary, since all the "featured" sections follow the same pattern as the "Featured Article" section - so once you understand how to update the "Featured Article," understanding how to do the other sections is fairly easy.
Here is the documentation for how to update the "Featured Article."
If you're interested in volunteering, take a long look at the documentation, to make sure you feel like you can do the job. Then send me a message (@Luciano) and we can discuss.
I have received three messages, so far, showing interest. I have put some thought into how to coordinate having multiple users updating the Main Page, and made a proposal here:
Other ideas are welcome.
One other thought worth bearing in mind:
I am not an experienced wiki coder. The Main Page was really the first time I ever coded a complex wiki page. As such, I apologize for the rather baroque nature of its organization. If other users have better ideas for a less complicated architecture, they are more than welcome to put it together in a Sandbox and, pending community approval, make it the official, "new and improved" Main Page.
Sorry that this new challenge is a little bit late. I have been very busy offline, and have set a new record, this past week: I haven't opened JOSM for 6 days straight. That seems like a record for me, since discovering OGF.
Luciano's Mapper's Challenge #2 - May, 2016
Some mappers are very good at focusing on a specific area and mapping it to an extremely complete level of detail. This challenge will probably be useless for those kinds of mappers. But for me, and I know for many others, it can be hard to find "focus" and hard to really, truly complete a given area. It's too easy to flit around the map, working on various things, and never really reach a sense of completion with a given area.
Arguably, the ONLY time I've really, truly completed an area is with my little Ardispherian exclave of Sarangdo. And that was more than a year ago, now, and further, it still could use more work.
So the challenge for the month of May is to try to concentrate on mapping on a single area. I would say maybe a maximum of 100km²(which is the size of a compact city)
The challenge has two levels.
- Advanced Challenge: for the month of May, ONLY map in your chosen, focused area. There is always more to map. If streets feel complete, work on buildings. If land covers feel complete, work on naming things. If building outlines are complete, work on putting detailed information about shops, banks, schools, etc. You can go into micromapping, adding housenumbers or sidewalks or traffic lights and turn lanes.
- Easy Challenge: for the month of May, chose some smallish area that you consider well-mapped and more-or-less complete in a way that you like, and try to reach that same level of completeness for your working area.
Like last time, this challenge is on the "honor system" - no one is going to check the accuracy of your claim. If you are interested in trying this challenge, just leave a note below, in the next few days. At the end of the month, we can make another diary post to see how poeple did.
This new challenge may be a bit "easy" for me, but only because I expect to continue to be very busy this month offline, so it will not require much work to avoid working on mapping other things. The area where I will be working is the western end of the Sovereign Duchy Tárrases - I want to see what it is like to now try to develop an area in detail having already put in place a complete set of contours.
Well, I'm a little bit late closing this out. I ended up extremely busy this past weekend, and spent a new record minimum amount of time on my OGF hobby - less than an hour.
Let's hear the results!
I know BMSOUZA kept a record of his challenge progress here - a very inspiring idea:
Seeing his idea, I "blikied" my work on the challenge here:
I achieved the advanced challenge, I think, with only two "highway" tags the whole month, and both were "highway=pedestrian" so I don't feel too guilty.
Everyone else, post your results, thoughts, achievements, etc., in comments.
Coming soon: May challenge!
A draft of contours for my city-state of Tárrases (off the coast of Mahhal) has gone "live." There are some small artefacts of the conversion process, but overall the result is quite pleasing. More contours for Mahhal coming soon!
Several users have asked about contours, and there have been discussions before.
I have made a "contours discussion" page in my sandbox, which users may consult.
For a while now, I have had this idea of creating a "Monthly Mapper's Challenge." I think it could be a way to challenge ourselves and develop our map-making skills in OGF.
So I have decided to give a try at creating one.
Luciano's Mapper's Challenge #1 - April, 2016
Many people would agree, OGF has too many roads. I don't mean in absolute terms - clearly, the real world, as seen in OSM, has even more roads than OGF. What I mean is that the proportion of roads to other objects is too high. Much of our world has almost ONLY roads. So I decided to make my first OGF mapping challenge about roads - or rather, anti-roads.
The challenge is simple. For the month of April, try to concentrate on mapping things other than roads.
By roads, I mean any use of the "highway" tag, (except perhaps highway=pedestrian, highway=path, highway=footway, or other non-automotive uses of the tag).
The challenge has three levels.
- Advanced Challenge: for the month of April, create NO new roads in your territory; focus on other objects: rivers, lakes, coastlines, land cover, building, schools, churches, anything you want.
- Medium Challenge: for the month of April, for each road you create, also create some other non-road object. You don't have to keep exact count, just try to emphasize other objects.
- Easy Challenge: for the month of April, create at least one interesting feature for your territory that has no roads; examples could be a nature reserve or conservation area, an island or neighborhood that bans automobiles, a botanic garden or zoo, etc.
This challenge is on the "honor system" - no one is going to check the accuracy of your claim. If you are interested in trying this challenge, just leave a note below, in the next few days. At the end of the month, we can make another diary post to see how poeple did. If there is a lot of interest, we could do "challenges" every month, and maybe make a wiki page to record results.
I will be attempting the "Advanced" challenge, above. I might even go on a road-deletion binge, to get rid of the boring grids I made in my early mapping period.
Happy (northern hemisphere) Spring, and happy mapping!
I won't take up a lot of room here, but I have posted a technical discussion of JOSM, osmconvert, and "polygon format files" at the wiki:
Since I had the day off for the Lunar New Year holiday (Year of the Monkey), I decided to complete the creation of Commonia's 1st level political divisions. Commonia now has 75 "constituent regions" - I conceptualize the country as having a kind of "assymetric federalism" in the style of the Russian Federation.
Since the main map doesn't update often at low zooms, I made one of my "polygon overlay maps" so people can take a look:
Since Commonia is a "blue" territory open to all, none of these choices are written in stone. If you don't like something, you are free to change it. However, please don't change things "just because" - try to have a well-thought-out reason, or some interest in the territory in question.
Hopefully these relations can be maintained despite newbies working the territory - everyone is invited to help out if you notice something amiss.
I made up almost none of the names. I would surf across the map and choose names from towns or other mapped objects placed by various users, and apply them to the regions. The borders in many areas are completely made up, however - and in several areas I added some major rivers to give some shape and reason territories.
Only in a few areas did I find substantial "legacy" boundaries to work with, but in those cases, I tried very hard to respect them.
Only in some blank areas did I make up names. I tried to give the country a wide cultural diversity. To commemorate the start of the "Year of the Monkey" I named a fairly empty southwestern state "Annosimia" - Latin for "Year of the Monkey."
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!
Lately, I have seen a lot of people worrying about coastline edits "not showing up on the map."
Both the "admin" account and my personal account see a few messages every day, lately, asking "where are my coastline edits!?"
So rather than trying to keep answering those messages, I will post a reminder here.
The "render" - the program that makes what you edit show up on the map - is divided into parts. The "coastline render" is a separate part from other parts. As a result, if you make an edit involving the coastline - for example, you build a new little seaside town, on some new islands - the result can be temporarily strange, if the main render and the coastline render run at different times. You will see your new island town, but sitting in the water, because the coastline hasn't rendered yet.
Recently, the coastline render has been very slow. This is due to the large amount of work the coastline program has to do, and admin's efforts to make the best use of limited server resources. As a result, the coastline update can take a long time - even several days. Once I waited a week for a coastline edit to show up on the main map.
Also, it can look strange, because each "zoom level" of the map might render at a different time. So you might see your new island at zoom 15, but not at zoom 14, etc., for a while. And it makes our continental "floods" (when someone breaks the coastline) weird (only flooded at some zoom levels, for example) and harder to fix (because the coastline render is delayed, so a "flood" might be the result of some mistake someone made many days ago).
All of this is nobody's fault - it's just the situation with the server, right now.
Please be patient.
Nothing is broken. As many of you have noticed, there is nothing actually missing or broken with your edits - your new coastline work will immediately show up in an edit window (iD, potlatch, JOSM) - because the edit window renders the data in "live time" rather than waiting for the server. The problem is just a delayed update of the main map on the server.