Open Source Computing and GIS in the UK

Travels in a digital world

Wherecamp EU

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Last weekend was the second Wherecamp EU Unconference, this time at the University of Nottingham. A mighty good time was had by all, I think! It attracted a different crowd to the previous event, back in February in London. There were less of the “big names” there, but a lot of new faces, which is encouraging. Again, the Unconference format worked well, with people doing talks on a range of subjects, some only after being persuaded to the night before!

There was a good contingent of open source and OSGeo-related material. Thanks go to the Centre for Geospatial Statistics at the University, who have been heavily involved with OSGeo (particularly the UK chapter) over the last couple of years for this – it was a great chance to give some new people the old “Introduction to OSGeo” talk, and also my hastily knocked together “10 open source geospatial myths debunked” (both will be up on slideshare when I get chance).

Of the talks I got to attend- I most enjoyed Jeremy Morley’s talk on Vernacular Geography based around people’s perception of place- what they call places, where the boundaries are, and whether they like a place or not. There was some interesting discussion on an open database of vernacular place names- though I think this would be better fitted with one of the existing efforts around place names rather than something new and separate. However with all this linked data goodness we keep hearing about, maybe being separate doesn’t really matter, as long as we can link things together.

Otherwise, of course OpenStreetMap got  a few mentions- a stand-out was on accuracy in OSM, and efforts around measuring this in various ingenious ways. Antony Scott did an interesting talk on (paraphrasing) “Things I got stuck on with open source web mapping and how I fixed them”. The conclusion from both his talk and audience reactions was that we still have some way to go with ease of use and documentation.

Thanks should also go to the AGI who provided us with geobeer money on Friday night!

All in all, a great couple of days- thanks to all involved.

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