dear Mark, all,
I was halfway through this long-postponed mail when the responses
started flooding through to the list. It only half-applies to me as I
don't run a Guide - at least not currently - but here you are.
On Wed, Mar 29, 2006 at 10:37:19AM +0100, M.B.Gaved wrote:
1. How would you describe the Open Guide you work on
to somebody who wanted to find
out about it?
I'd describe it as a collaborative guide to a city, which everyone is
welcome to contribute to. To a geek, i'd say that it was a wiki with
spatial metadata, designed to provide a very simple location oriented
2. Who is the anticipated audience for your Open
Guide? Who are your
users right now?
This doesn't really apply to me, as really I don't run a Guide myself,
i only harass other peoples' :) I'd say that i don't anticipate an audience,
hope that anyone who's motivated to, should find it as easy as
possible to contribute.
3. What do you see as the purpose of the open guides?
(feel free to get
philosophical!) e.g. how is it different from other wikis/city guides?
How is it different?
It was the first spatial wiki project that i am aware of; a lot of
things a bit like it have come along since (wikitravel, wikistreets etc)
Its emphasis is "by locals, for locals"; it's not a guide for
outsiders, like many city guides and travel guides are.
Its emphasis isn't on editorialising or promotion - no commercial
affiliation, no advertising, not trying to direct its users.
It offers really detailed feeds of its data+metadata, and encourages
others to reuse the data, unlike a lot of other spatial annotation sites
which are trying to lock their data up in silos and just provide a
neat web view that will bring more 'eyeballs' along.
4. Are there rules and regulations users must follow?
How about your
admin team (e.g. how do you make decisions)?
Doesn't apply to me... in general i would say, the fewer rules, the
fewer bars to contribution. Keeping copyrighted data away is
important, to make sure the content in an Open Guide can be freely
B. Your role in the Open Guide
1. How did you come to be involved in the Open Guide?- can you tell me
what you do?
I got involved back in summer 2002 when the original London Guide was
just moving from moinmoin to a complete rewrite in perl by Kate Pugh based
on CGI::Wiki. At the time, i was getting really heavily into RDF and
playing with spatial annotation / collaborative mapping ideas;
Earle, the Guide's originator, and quite a few of our friends picked up
the RDF bug from Dan Brickley together.
Since then i've found the London and then the Boston guide a really
useful resource in my feed aggregation / spatial modelling projects.
I did start a San Francisco Guide when i was staying there.
I didn't really know the town or have a community of people around me
who were into contributing, so the Guide quickly died when i moved away :/
[quick break while reinstating http://sf.openguides.org/
2. What was your goal when your Open Guide (or your
involvement in it)
started? What are the current goals?
My personal goal was to get more spatial information modelled in RDF
into the world, and to help prove concepts for "collaborative mapping"
approaches. My current goals are to help provide a drop-in replacement
for some of the Google Maps API dependencies; this involves more
talking to people who are working on open source web mapping clients
and waiting for someone else to write the silver bullet :)
3. How long do you see yourself being involved in your
cf the SF guide; it's hard for me to make maps of somewhere that i'm
not physically in, all the time. So a Guide is dependent on its owner
and most active contributors sticking around. I didn't need to start a
Guide when i moved to Boston, because Chris Schmidt was way ahead of
me. I've socialised it a bit, but not really practically helped.
D. Future of the Guide
1. How successful do you think the project is? Which goals have been
met? Which remain elusive?
I think the amount of things "a bit like" the Open Guide that are now
in the world, is an indicator that the project has been a real
success. Dom's work on packaging and installability has really helped.
I think that's still the main bar to entry, though, and that running a
Guide hosted service would help more people get on board. I've
wondered about 'writeability' in the interface - to what extent can
non-geeks feel empowered to contribute, not scared off by too many
form fields, too many potential places to put information. Chris's
tweaks to the UI have helped with that a bit.
3. If someone told you they were planning to start an
Open Guide, what
advice would you give them?
To get at least 2 other people involved, to keep it alive; to look at
what other kinds of sites and location services are around to connect
to; to hook up with people making maps of the area, and not rely on
"Google Will Provide" too much; at this point, to think hard about mobile
(GPRS,wireless portal) interfaces to their Guide to help bring the
information nearer to where it describes.
sorry this was briefer than most, piles to do, hth :)