From:
David S April <april@syclo.com>
Sent: 3/14/2002 11:49:41 PM
To:
gpsstash@yahoogroups.com
Cc:
Bcc:
Subject:

Re: free access to the data


At 01:35 PM 3/14/2002 -0600, Neil R. Ormos wrote:

>Dave April wrote:
> > Call me crazy, but convenience and spiffy presentation
> > (ie, a well designed user interface experience) are good
> > things, in my opinion.
>
>I'll call your views selfish and myopic. I'll leave the
>clinical diagnosis about your sanity to the experts.

Oooh - name calling! How productive.

> > All the whiners on this list are complaining that

ok, so maybe I did it first. I apologize.

> > geocaching.com is not serving their (the whiners) needs by
> > making the data exportable. I disagree. I've seen at least
> > 2 occasions where Jeremy has responded to this particular
> > complaint:
> > 1. He made the data exportable into EasyGPS.
> > 2. He has a cooperative agreement with Ed Hall
>
>Thus, access to the data is controlled by Mr. Irish, and
>therefore, those seeking different presentations of the data
>are SOL. You hand-wave away what happened between
>Messrs. Hall and Irish prior to their later agreement.
>IIRC, Irish denied Hall's access to the geocaching.com web
>site and made noises about copyright infringement. Those
>paying attention might have noted that the data Hall was
>using was probably not subject to copyright protection.

And we also noticed that whatever hue and cry Jeremy raised at the time,
went away since Ed is still producing his maps. I ackowledge that Ed says
the relationship is not cordial, but he still has access to the data. I see
that Ed responded that he grabs it (via his scripts of course) the same way
that the rest of us do - that is, he does not have whatever you view as a
more convenient publicly accessible, publicly owned data store. But he can
still get to, and create a different (and better) presentation of the data.
I could write a perl script to grab the waypoint data of the caches as well
if I was so inclined. So is your argument that the data is not available to
*you* in the format *you* want? Or is it that *you* are not controlling the
data?

I see that we as a community have a steward who cares about the data
repository. Whether that is a volunteer steering group or a commercial
entity is not relevant to me, as long as they are responsive to the needs
of the community. It is my belief that geocaching.com has been responsive
to the community. You may not agree with that perspective. I can respect an
alternative opinion.

You don't seem to want to acknowledge that much of the credit for the size
of the repository is due to the promotional efforts of Jeremy and
geocaching.com on behalf of the sport. Navicache and other sites that seek
to be alternatives have not caught on or have not advertised their
existence with the same fervor.

> > This is a ridiculous perspective. Geocaching.com works
> > because Jeremy has created something that people find
> > useful. You may not like the web based discussion (nor do
> > I, for that matter) but clearly hundreds or thousands of
> > others find that having everything in one place is useful
> > and convenient for them. You succeed by giving your
> > customers what they want. You can't please everybody, but
> > if you please most of them, you become successful.
>
>I'm not selling anything. The entry of a commercial vendor
>should not render private what is essentially public-domain
>data.

Every cache I have hidden is still available to everyone. If I choose the
option of registering a private cache (which I won't), it will be because
geocaching.com has added that as a feature. For those who find that
appealing, they will take advantage of it.

> > For all of you who complain about not having access to the
> > data, put your money where your mouth is like Ed did. You
> > certainly have easy enough access to the data to put
> > together a prototype of any application that uses waypoint
> > data in an interesting way. Build one and let the market
> > decide if it is useful or interesting.
>
>You miss the point entirely. Read slowly so you'll get it
>this time. The point is to have a publicly accessible,
>volunteer-maintained repository of cache data so that anyone
>who wants to create some arbitrary view of the data is free
>to do so.

But you can. You just haven't tried. It might not be as nice and convenient
as you'd like it to be, but you can get to the data.

Why do you assume that the quality of a volunteer-maintained repository of
cache data is going to be better than a repository where someone has a
vested interest in keeping their customers happy?

>In such a model, the "market" is entirely
>irrelevant; users would have the freedom to create a view of
>the data that may be useful to them alone, without
>validation by others. In some cases, people might create
>presentations and supporting applications that are highly
>popular (e.g., the work of Ed "Buxley" Hall). But access to
>the data should not be conditioned on such popularity. The
>cost of the basic data, and of maintaining and distributing
>a database of such data, is almost nil, and therefore an
>extensive stream of supporting revenue would not be
>required.
>
>The "market" is further irrelevant in that those desiring to
>create a non-commercial database, so far, have not indicated
>an intention to buy or sell the data.

The market is not irrelevant. Your public access database is of no value if
there is no one who wants to use it. Whether or not you have paying
customers, the consumers of your data are still your market and you need to
be responsive to them or they will find an alternative. Geocaching.com has
been responsive to it's customers. And the vast majority of us have been,
and will continue to be, non paying customers. (Well, I guess I can't
claim that entirely - I bought a T-Shirt for my 10 year old son)

>This notion requires, of course, the ability to understand
>that the greater good is not always optimized through the
>local maximization of personal wealth or convenience.

Nor is it realized by some idealistic, designed-by-committee, resource
hampered volunteer group. I'm still waiting for that official Mozilla
browser release so I can view geocaching.com with it...

Ironically, I'm an idealist myself, because I believe this statement that
geocaching.com has posted on its web site at
http://www.geocaching.com/subscribe/

"Are you going to charge us to go Geocaching?
Never! The traditional Geocaching game will always be free."

So we'll have to see if my faith is misplaced. I don't think it is.

Dave


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David S. April Syclo LLC
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