Google SoC organization application 2008

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This is the application for OpenStreetMap to become a Google Summer of Code mentor organisation in 2008 (See Google Summer of Code/2008)


In addition to anything else your organization would like to submit as an application, Google will be asking (at least) the following questions as part of the application process:

Q:Describe your organization.

"OpenStreetMap is a project aimed squarely at creating and providing free geographic data such as street maps to anyone who wants them. The project was started because most maps you think of as free actually have legal or technical restrictions on their use, holding back people from using them in creative, productive or unexpected ways."

Contributors to OpenStreetMap take handheld GPS devices with them on journeys, or go out specially to record GPS tracks. They record street names, village names and other features using notebooks, digital cameras, and voice-recorders. Back at the computer, contributors upload those GPS logs showing where they travelled, and trace-out the roads on OpenStreetMap's collaborative database. Using their notes, contributors add the street names, information such as the type of road or path, and the connections between roads.

That data is then processed to produce detailed street-level maps, which can be published freely on sites such as Wikipedia, used to create handheld or in-car navigation devices, or printed and copied without restriction.

Q: Why is your organization applying to participate in GSoC 2008? What do you hope to gain by participating?

We strongly believe that free to use geographical data will be important for organizations such as Google as well as for individuals that want to use the data in creative ways (such as writing routing software). While we have plenty of map data contributors by now, we have a shortage of programmers that are willing to experiment and implement many of the ideas that are floating around.

By getting motivated students to work on these projects we hope to gain experience with what will work and what not. Additionally we hope to implement features, such as history rollback, conflict management, or a voting/reputation system that we think is crucial in order to grow further and deal with future conflicts.

Q: Did your organization participate in past GSoCs? If so, please summarize your involvement and the successes and challenges of your participation.

We have not participated in previous GSoCs.

Q: If your organization has not previously participated in GSoC, have you applied in the past? If so, for what year(s)?

We have never applied in the past.

Q: Who will your organization administrator be? Please include Google Account information.

Sebastian Spaeth. Google account: spaetz

Q:What license(s) does your project use?

  • map data is currently licences under a creative commons license: CC-BY-SA 2.0 (discussions ongoing on whether to use the Open Data Commons Database Licence)
  • software within OSM is licensed under GNU GPL or as public domain

Q: What is the URL for your ideas page?

Q: What is the main development mailing list or forum for your organization?

dev at openstreetmap org

Q: What is the main IRC channel for your organization?

irc:// (channel #osm on server

Q: Does your organization have an application template you would like to see students use? If so, please provide it now.

No Do we need one?

Q: Who will be your backup organization administrator? Please include Google Account information.

Q: Who will your mentors be? Please include Google Account information.


Q: What criteria did you use to select these individuals as mentors? Please be as specific as possible.

Mentors have to be known in the OSM community, that is they cannot be absolute newcomers. They need to have been active for a while to make sure they are familiar with the project and that they have the network necessary within the community (so they can e.g. point to relevant people, or ask persons who might have specific knowledge on issues).

Q: What is your plan for dealing with disappearing students?

Students will have to regularly report on their ongoing work. If mentors do not receive any progress reports they will contact the students reminding them of their ongoing work. Mentors and/or the GSoC admin should be able to help the students with getting focused on the project again. If students cannot be contacted electronically, we will need to call them by phone.

Q: What is your plan for dealing with disappearing mentors?

Students who are not able to contact their mentor or who feel that their mentor does not invest enough time into coaching students can contact the GSoC administrator of the project (spaetz) who will try to contact the mentor and clarify the situation. Mentors should not need to baby-sit their students all the time, however they should be responsive and helpful. Some prodding of mentors by a non-student might help.

We will hopefully be able to provide a spare mentor who could take over if everything fails.

Q: What steps will you take to encourage students to interact with your project's community before, during and after the program?

OpenStreetMap is a very addictive project, and the community is quite open to discussions. We will encourage students to report regularly (eg through mail and their blog) about their progress and experiences during the program. Blog entries would get shown on a planet page.

Mentors will handhold students before the start of the project, giving them advice, introducing them to people in the community and make sure they get a warm welcome.

After the end of the program, successful projects would be incorporated into OpenStreetMap and developers be encouraged to continue to maintain and improve their "brain children".

Q: What will you do to ensure that your accepted students stick with the project after GSoC concludes?

See previous reply. After the end of the program, successful projects would be incorporated into OpenStreetMap and developers be encouraged to continue to maintain and improve their "brain children". We have the advantage that many GSoC improvement would result into user-visible improvements and features, meaning that students would publically get credit and become visible within the community.

A few notes on the mentoring organization application: If you take a look at the program timeline, we've left a week for students to get to know you before taking a week to submit their applications. It is critical that it be obvious how students should reach you to discuss applying to your organization; plan to link this information from your "Ideas" list at the very least. The email addresses associated with the Google Account information provided during application process will be used as the primary mode of contact by Google throughout the program, e.g. the email address which we will use to subscribe you to the GSoC mentors/admins-only mailing list.