My Reflections on OpenStreetMap


Through my module Humanities and New Technologies, it is my first time to access to a digital tool named OpenStreetMap. Created by Steve Coast in August 2004, OpenStreetMap (OSM) is an online map site allowing everyone to edit varieties of maps in the world at will. “Within the framework of Web 2.0 mapping application, the most striking example of a geographical application is the OpenStreetMap (OSM) project” (Haklay, 2010).

 Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 22.54.57



My OSM Process

For the assignment in the module, I have completed four tiles for the # 74 project. To begin with, I have chosen a project at beginner level from types of projects. As it required, I just needed map roads and buildings for this project. In order to start mapping, I have selected a tile on the map. After the selection, this tile was locked.


Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 22.53.39


Afterwards, I have chosen to edit with ID editor. By changing different background, the map was shown in diverse status. With the help of zooming in and out, it demonstrated buildings, lakes, roads and so forth distinctly.


Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 00.16.15


On the top of the page, there are three shortcuts—point, line as well as area. Point is for restaurants, monuments, postal boxes, etc. Line is for highways, streets, pedestrian paths and so on. Area is for parks, buildings and lakes as well. After using these shortcuts, I was asked to further select feature type.


Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 22.45.16


Subsequently, do not forget to save changes. As such, I have repeated these manipulations and finally marked the tile done. As a result, I have finished four tiles for this project.


Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 23.20.37


Also, I have validated another tile completed by Hannington Kakimon in the #167 project. By zooming in the map, I could check whether Kakimon’s previous work was correct or not in details. Since it was accurate, then I could validate his work.


Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 22.16.09



The Implications of My Contribution

“To encourage humanities scholars to work together on complex research problems, share data and references, and jointly author documents, they need tools that make the whole process easy”. OSM is one of such collaborative tool. Through OSM platform, I am able to collaborate with other researchers from time to time. In other words, OSM enables me to exchange what I have known with others in order to help others’ projects online. In general, persons are good at one area rather than another. Therefore, my contribution is inclined to make up the deficiency of others’ projects. Probably I am capable of saving others’ lives due to my contribution to the projects such as maps of earthquakes and floods, etc.

Furthermore, some projects are assumably more complicated and more time consuming. If the project merely relies on one person, it will last for more than several months or several years. However, the researcher is in a position to save a lot of time because of my contribution. As a result, the study is feasible to work in advance so that it becomes more significant in the specified field.


My Learning Experience from OSM

From the experience of OSM, I have learned a lot for this first time. On one hand, thanks to current digital world, offering help can be very convenient in reality. No matter where you are, the information can be shared with others by several simple clicks. Additionally, there is no limitation for the time when you receive knowledge from others. Besides, people can be informed of latest news in time. If you look carefully, you can figure out how to validate others’ work on OSM. When choosing projects, there are colored bars on the right in addition to the percentage. Green means that this project is validated thoroughly while yellow means that this project still needs to be validated. The validation of OSM is helpful for senior mappers to review the data so as to keep a high quality of these valuable resources. Moreover, people can leave messages to former editors when validating.

On the other hand, people should have their own judgments in this information age. The digital tools such as OSM contain amounts of information. However, the information comes from volunteers those whose background you are not familiar with. Therefore, it comes up with the question how to utilize these data. If it is correct, you can take fully advantage of the data in the research, which will benefit the research a lot in the future. Otherwise, your project tends to be misled to an incorrect direction in use of these data. This is the reason why I start with an OSM project at primary stage. More fortunately, people can invalidate the previous work if errors are found later on.


The Application in My Work

Since my research refers to a comparative study of digital marketing for fashion, I believe that OSM is bound to play an important role in my future project. Fashion is a multibillion-pound industry ranging from the contribution to the economic growth to the creation of jobs. In order to explore the core of dramatic fashion success in blogging, the study will compare fashion blogs in Ireland and in China where are well known for their fashion in the world. With the help of OSM, it will demonstrate a digital map of fashion blogging in Ireland and in China. Consequently, it will be helpful for me to trace the journeys of those who spend time on fashion blogs. Moreover, more people can assist me with the check for mistakes as well as the suggestions of the project by the application of OSM.



Haklay, M. “How good is volunteered geographical information?

A comparative study of OpenStreetMap and Ordnance Survey datasets”. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 2010(37): 682-703.


“Signs that social scholarship is catching on in the humanities”. WordPress. March 11, 2008. Feb 12, 2016. <>.