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Hi, I'm Nick Black.

  • Skype: nickb_sk (a great way to get a quick answer, or to arrange a time to meet)
  • UK Mobile: 07835 054292

More About Me

The first time I heard about OpenStreetMap I was blown away. It was March 2006 and the world, or my world at least, was going Google Maps crazy. Google Maps was cool, but I know that there was lots more to maps than the tiled pictures that Google server up. I'd also spent a lot of 2005 learning Linux - I was immersed in the world of open source software, though only from a users point of view. At that time I was studying for a Masters In Geographic Information Science at University College London where I was lucky enough to be introduced directly to Steve and the core of the OpenStreetMap. The passion of the few thousand people who were committed to OSM was incredible. I wanted to get involved right away, in any way I could. Over the summer of 2006, I went mapping, rebuilt OSM servers, helped organise the Isle of Wight mapping weekend, the first mapping party to be held and generally immersed myself in OSM. My Masters thesis looked at usability of OSM and involved developing a Java Mobile application.

By the end of the summer of 2006 we were making great progress towards setting up the OSM-F, through a series of IRC meetings (the Skype support for Linux really sucked in those days). One of the things I really regret is not getting involved in the Foundation back in 2006. I was about to graduate from a masters and thought I may be out of the country for a while, so didn't stand.

In the years following the summer of 2006, I've continued to be very involved with OSM. One of the highlights has been helping organize the State of the Map conference and then Chairing the SOTM09 working group this year. Organizing something like a conference is immense and it always amazes me how a group of "amateurs" pull of a professional event. I guess I shouldn't be surprised though - after seeing a group of "amateurs" build a "professional" map of the world :-)

I'd been working with user:steve for over a year, building websites and generally getting by when we founded CloudMade and secured enough funding to start building a business that would allow businesses and other organizations to make use of OSM. Since I first heard about OSM and to this day, I see the mainstream adoption of OSM data as a huge endorsement for the work of all of the OSM mappers out there. In the near future - I'd venture by 2012 - most consumers in the world will be touched by OSM data in one way or another. Most of them will probably never know it, but the OpenStreetMap community will be contributing to the lives of billions of people and to the success of thousands of businesses that will spring up to support consumer demand. This many eyeballs will reap huge benefits for OpenStreetMap - the maps will get richer and more complete beyond what we can imagine right now. Commercial users of OpenStreetMap want to contribute back - the companies I talk to in my role at CloudMade want to give back to the community. I want to be in the middle of the organisations that make this happen.

This brings us to the present. Right now I'm living in Islington, London. I'm doing a little bit of mapping and no coding any more. My time is taken up with OSM-Foundation matters and my position as Head of Products, Board member and director at CloudMade. And I'm happy with that. I don't believe that being a prolific mapper is a litmus test for being a successful Board member. Of course the OSM-Foundation needs dedicated people who truly believe in OpenStreetMap. But as OSM grows we need to carefully look for the skills we need to run the Foundation, to make sure we get the best leadership possible. I'll talk more about my thoughts on many of these areas as I prepare my election aims.

If at any time you would like more information, please get in touch at the numbers above.

I have responsibility for...

System Administrator on the 'dev' server. (Servers/dev)

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