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Public domain
All my contributions to OpenStreetMap are released into the public domain. This applies worldwide.
In case this is not legally possible, I grant anyone the right to use my contributions for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.

EricWolf Cray-1.JPG

I'm Eric B. Wolf. I am a Research Geographer in the Center of Excellence in GIScience at the US Geological Survey. I am currently pursuing my PhD under the advisement of Dr. Ken Foote. My dissertation topic explores how metadata influences participation in user generated maps.

In my work at the USGS, I am involved in the The National Map Corps which uses a modified copy of the OpenStreetMap software to engage citizens in the USGS mapping process.

My Relationship with OSM

OpenStreetMap represents, perhaps, a more fundamental shift than even WikiPedia. While WikiPedia leverages the crowd to generate content, ultimately the content creation has fallen more and more to "experts" like those employed in producing traditional encyclopedias. Geographic information is a more curious phenomena in that local awareness almost always trumps formal "expertise". Making maps is a very common human endeavor and despite a couple thousands of years of research in cartography, most people can make pretty good maps with no formal training. But the real kicker is no amount of formal training trumps local knowledge of geography. Your own backyard will never be mapped better by an "expert" (like me!) than by you! This is really significant for serious mapping efforts, like The National Map. This means that the best geographic information comes from local knowledge. OpenStreetMap attempts to tap that knowledge.

My primary relationship with OSM revolves around understanding how this shift impacts The National Map. And how The National Map might be able to tap local knowledge as well.

But that's not all! Fortunately, I'm more like Captain Kirk than Captain Picard. In the process of "studying" OSM Mappers, I have made many new friends and found an outlet for my passion for making maps. I get to hobnob regularly with great people like User:Steve, User:pmbatty, User:Rw,


You can contact me at