Joy Diversion

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A 'Joy Diversion' is a method to run a workshop to introduce and involve the general public in mapping and OSM.

The first workshop was run in May 2018 by Open Data Manchester in the UK and they have run 7+ since. The format remains popular with some participants attending multiple times. It involves a psychogeography approach to connect participants with the history, layout, and mapping of their city.

In case you hadn't realised. The name is a play on words on the Manchester band Joy Division.


  • Copies of historical paper maps of the area are provided as a starting point (e.g. Manchester City Centre 1848). In the UK these are available to buy from a specialist company, you may have to search further.
  • People propose expeditions. This can be done by asking participants to stick post-it notes of ideas to a wall, then group them on similar theme.
  • Set off in groups spending the afternoon rambling, mapping and generally exploring the cities.
  • Each team is given a backpack containing notepads, compass, maps, string, and lots of other things useful for an expedition.
  • Teams are given a small toy plastic animal, which becomes their mascot. They are encouraged to document and photograph their expeditions along with their animal and team hashtag so we can follow them on Twitter.
  • Participants can use OSM to chart their journeys and note down any new discoveries. Edits can be carried out using mobile apps, or brought back to base to discuss with the group.
  • Teams then return to base at a given time, where they present their findings. The Twitter hashtags will help.
  • Informally group to edit findings on OSM


  • The general public are engaged by seeing their city how it used to be.
  • Give participants a 'sense of place'
  • Setup of the workshop is fairly easy
  • The content of the workshop is generated by the participants
  • Introduce participants to OSM
  • Introduce OSM editing
  • Participants gain an appreciation of mapping vs physical reality