Timothy Subbotin: “The French counted the money and realized: it’s better to invest in OSM once than to pay someone every month”

    After the success of the interview with Sergey Golubev about OpenStreetMap, I decided to continue and make a series of materials with the most active and prominent participants in this project. This time Timofey Subbotin (Sadless74), a civil engineer from Chelyabinsk who has been participating in OSM for more than 10 years, answered my questions. How popular is OSM in Russia, is it necessary to have its official representation in our country, and why should the osmerians communicate? He told all this in an interview.

    - How did you find out about OSM?

    - This is due to hiking. My hobbies are alloys. In 2008, I purchased the Garmin 60CSx Travel Navigator. He needed cards. So I found out that there is OpenStreetMap. After hiking, I began to make my observations: parking lots, springs, sights, etc. - in order to use this myself and help other tourists. It seems that it was so recently, but in the past 2018, it marked 10 years with daily mapping.

    - Why was this project interesting for you?

    - In OSM, you can not only make edits, but also always download them freely. This is an important advantage that distinguishes it from other similar projects. For me, drawing houses in OSM is a pleasant vacation. I was seriously carried away by this project when I drew roads and houses in my native village, and then decided to mark all the settlements of the Chelyabinsk region and the roads to them on the OSM map.

    In all this, I also like the fact that it allows me to discover and recognize the world. I can never visit all the settlements of the Chelyabinsk region, but thanks to OSM I can at least see how they look on satellite images.

    Even before OSM, he experimented with Linux, was versed in websites, and did some programming. But participation in the OSM pushed to deal with this deeper.

    - What was the RU-OSM community then? What is it now?

    - Previously, in RU-OSM, the forum appeared more enthusiastic participants and there were more discussions.

    - For a long time you translated and published on Habré the weekly newsletter about OSM - “WeeklyOSM”. Why did you do this?

    - Firstly, in Russia, few know English. Secondly, before I started translating WeeklyOSM , only Ilya Zverev wrote about OSM in Russian on his STOSM blog . From it, by the way, I learned about this project and that they are looking for volunteers to translate news into other languages. This idea seemed interesting to me and I decided to try it. I wanted to “pump” my English and was just curious to find out what is happening in the OSM world.

    Gradually, I began to get tired of this social burden and make translations less and less, until I completely left this business. There is safety in numbers. It took me about 4 hours to translate one issue. In addition, I could not do it in pieces, that is, every day for a little bit. As it turned out, I have a different character warehouse, if I translate, then the entire issue at once. Several other osmeri helped me several times, but this was not a tradition. If someone decides to help me with the translation of "WeeklyOSM" - write , I will be glad to try to revive its release in Russian.

    - When you were still translating WeeklyOSM, what impressions did the OSM communities of other countries make? Maybe there are some personal observations about this?

    - I noticed that gradually communities began to appear in Africa, Asia and South America. Previously, OSM was mostly Europe and the United States. If we talk about Europe, then the first place in activity will take England and Germany, the second - France and Belgium. As I could understand, they have more free time and a slightly different attitude to life - they are more open, they are given easier social communication. OSM is a hobby for them, and a hobby is unthinkable without communication. In Germany, for example, in large cities once a week (!) An OSM meeting takes place.

    - Is something similar organized in Russia?

    - In Moscow, Ilya Zverev was engaged in this, but now I have not heard about the meetings. I will tell you about my experience. In 2011, I tried to organize a meeting of osmeri in Chelyabinsk. Only 7 people came to her. I prepared a report, shared my achievements in OSM, discussed how and where others map. Then we talked mainly on the forum and chat.

    Why it happens? I suppose that OSM enthusiastic participants are scattered all over the country, and even in large cities prefer to communicate via the Internet, it is also possible that OSM participants use it in their work, drawing a map for them is not a hobby, and therefore they are not interested in discussing work after work .

    Many draw, someone communicates, but why so little? Unclear.

    - What do offline meetings give? What are they needed for? What is the use of them? Maybe if they do not pass in the Russian Federation, they are not needed? Does the community have no such need?

    - If something is not there, then this does not mean that it is not necessary. It's just not there yet. As for the meetings, here you need to be patient and continue to organize them. But, as I understand it, so far everyone has run out of enthusiasm and no free time.

    If we talk about why such meetings are needed, I recall the “State of the map” conference, which I visited in 2018. The very first evening I met with the authors of the WeeklyOSM project. We sat in a cafe, ate pizza and chatted. I don’t know about you, but live communication gives me more emotions. If you look at pictures from such events, then most often people smile at them.

    - What else interesting happens in the OSM communities of other countries?

    - There were news from France in the issues of OSM Weekly. The OSM Foundation’s local representative office recently opened there. This is partly due to the fact that the French authorities are gradually moving from Google maps to OSM. So now France has begun to actively draw herself. Also, their local OSM fund raises donations to rent more powerful servers. In addition, he regularly organizes various events related to both data collection and the correct import of open data into OSM. Similar processes are taking place in Belgium. The communities of these countries have gradually grown from an informal mapping club to an official organization.

    - Why did the French authorities decide to switch to OSM?

    - A year ago, Google began to charge for the use of its cards. I suppose the French have counted the money and understood: it is better to invest in OSM once than to pay someone every month. It would be nice if members of the RU-OSM community conveyed this idea to our authorities. Although, it is worth noting that OSM cards began to appear on sites.

    - You have repeatedly expressed in the chat of OSM-RU in Telegram and in the forum that it would be nice if your OSM representative office appeared in Russia. Can you tell us more about this?

    - Yes, I said that. I can even imagine how this could be done, but there is not enough courage and determination. Moreover, until a team of like-minded people was gathered.

    What could such a representation do? As in other countries - to popularize and promote OSM every day. This should be a job. To be the point where people or organizations, including representatives of the authorities, are addressing with different suggestions: to help draw a settlement, to qualitatively import data, etc. On the one hand, there is an official representation, on the other hand, it is not responsible for what happens inside the project itself.

    Now, such communication takes place through a forum or chat on Telegram, but still this is not the case, as these are communication channels for internal communication of the osmeri themselves. There you can learn how to correctly map a store or school, configure JOSM and load the displacement database.

    In 2012, they created the Council of the Russian OSM. This was a significant step towards the emergence of an official OSM office in Russia. Unfortunately, by the end of 2012, the council ceased to function.

    - What are the benefits to society from OSM?

    - Do not exaggerate the value of OSM, as well as downplay. This is not an elite and not the most important thing in the world, but just the only free alternative to proprietary card services from all the famous IT giants. But the most important thing is the passion of thousands of people around the world. This is a hobby.

    In addition, I believe that this benefit could be greater if more people knew about all the opportunities that OSM provides. Indeed, OSM is often perceived only as a free card. When you tell and show how it can still be used, this fundamentally changes the idea of ​​OSM.

    - What is the current state of the RU-OSM community: is it developing or stagnating?

    - Every day in Russia, the map rules and adds new information to about 150-200 people. New users are registered. Everything is relative. When compared with foreign communities: then we have confident stability, which has been going on for several years. This is not to say that there is no development, but it is very leisurely. There are no bright events, but there are no failures. The main goal of the project is achieved - people draw a map for their pleasure. Everyone does something that he likes, but in the end it benefits the entire project.

    I am glad that lately there are more and more services that use OSM data: urbanists, websites, businessmen, etc. This is an important indicator. If they take the data, it means that people are aware of the project and they are to some extent satisfied with the quality of the information received. Sometimes you can see, if you come from the Russian IP, that the tiles on the official OSM website load a little longer. This is due to the fact that the load on the Russian OSM proxy server, where the cache with tiles is stored, has increased significantly. What is this talking about? The fact that OSM in Russia, as a data source, is quite popular and actively used.

    But despite this popularity, it is still rare that those who use data from OSM become part of the community. I would really like them not to be shy and join RU-OSM.

    PS After the interview, Timothy decided to continue translating WeeklyOSM.

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