Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Revealing the making of OpenStreetMap: A limited account

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Wen Lin



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


OpenStreetMap (OSM), an open source mapping platform aiming to provide a free world map by registered users, has often been recognized as one of the prime examples of volunteered geographic information (VGI) construction. This is reflective of the recent exponential growth of user-generated geographic data facilitated by Web 2.0 technologies and location-aware devices. Notable efforts have been taken to investigate OSM developments and associated sociopolitical implications. However, still little is known about those less active contributors who constitute the majority of the contributors or long tail contributors in OSM and many other VGI initiatives. I therefore present an account of the dynamics of OSM mapping practices including these long tail contributors. Based on this investigation, I argue for a broader conceptualization of ‘interactivity’ in VGI mappings, one that moves beyond a narrow focus on the mapping interface regarding the encounters between these VGI contributors and VGI initiatives. I suggest that this is helpful to better capture these dynamic and heterogeneous mapping practices constituting the data and representation in OSM, which in turn may have wider implications for everyday mapping and knowledge production.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lin W

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: The Canadian Geographer

Year: 2015

Volume: 59

Issue: 1

Pages: 69-81

Print publication date: 01/01/2015

Online publication date: 16/10/2014

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900

Date deposited: 04/12/2014

ISSN (print): 0008-3658

ISSN (electronic): 1541-0064

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.


DOI: 10.1111/cag.12137


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric