[Geowanking] Using Google Mapmaker Data
steve at asklater.com
Fri May 29 10:23:59 PDT 2009
On 29 May 2009, at 17:25, Anselm Hook wrote:
> Are there any studies that show empirical benefits on opening up data?
Benkler posits that commons-based peer production is more efficient
than the market or the firm. I tend to agree.
> Like, improvements to financial bottom line, or improvements to other
> tangibles that a company would care about?
> It feels like sometimes organizations take a superstitious approach;
> assuming that holding data is best. As well in this case Google may be
> beholden to parties from whom they get the data. If those
> organizations are specialized around map data then convincing them to
> part with their primary asset seems dubious at best. The argument has
> to sway many parties.
If you believe the above, then it just doesn't matter. The natural
efficiency of the method will out pace the old practices, similarly to
wikipedia kissing goodbye to top down encyclopaedias. Things like edit
wars, locking articles, mediawiki are all just details from that point
> Clearly Yahoo has benefited from OSM - but OSM doesn't have the same
> kind of profit motive. How about the same between for-profits? How
> about in other topic domains?
Like I said in my talk there are two ways they make it work as a sort
of pseudo commons-based peer production, pseudo because they miss the
commons part. One, Google throws millions of users at it (say,
MapMaker), it has a high attrition rate but because of the huge volume
of people catches those gullible enough to make it work. Two, they
mistake those people for a community when they're really not.
> Eventually our governments might simply legislate a data sharing
> policy if this turns out to become a real barrier. But is there any
> way to bring participants to the table more quickly and voluntarily by
> showing real benefit to those participants?
Not really, they don't really give a shit about governments and
they're too slow anyway. I know I like quoting Stephenson here, but
"Harvard Li cranked out a few million PC clones in the early nineties
and loaded them all with Windows, Word, and Excel - but somehow forgot
to write any checks to Microsoft. About a year ago, Microsoft kicked
his ass in court and won a huge judgement. Harvard claimed bankruptcy:
he doesnt have a penny to his name. Microsoft has been trying to prove
he still has the odd billion or two salted away. Hardard Li has
clearly been thinking very hard about how to put money where guys like
Microsoft can't get it. There are many time-honored ways: the Swiss
bank account, the false-front corporation, the big real estate project
in the deepest, darkest China, bars of gold in a vault somewhere.
Those tricks might work with the average government, but Microsoft is
ten times smarter, a hundred times more agressive, and bound by no
particular rules. It gives Randy a little frission just to imagine
Harvard Li's situation: being chased across the planet by Microsoft's
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