Eoghan <>
Sent: 3/15/2002 12:20:36 PM

"the Data" & "Geocaching" (long post)

There's been a lot of discussion about something called "the Data" recently.
Seems like there's a few additional things worth considering about this
disassociated idea. Although the coordinate data and descriptions for a
large number of the original geocaches which went into the Groundspeak
database were posted publicly and without any intention of them being
reserved to one site or business, the majority of the information in that
database now is NOT of that sort. It lies somewhere on the spectrum between
publicly posted and "member's only", with the majority of it being info
that was clearly submitted to by members who agreed to their
terms of service. Jeremy has revised those terms of service over time, and
people have been submitting information to his site with some very
different expectations of use and availability. For every person that wants
freely accessible and transportable data, there is a person who appreciates
or expects that their cache information be shepherded by Groundspeak. Some
people don't want their data exported. Part of the rub here seems to be
this vagary of intentions and expectations. There isn't a clear dividing
line between the two. Jeremy's given arguments about why he thinks it is
necessary to restrict copies and access to "the Data" which do hold water
(e.g. keeps cache info modification within easy reach of the person who hid
the cache, allows caches hidden in illegal locations to be more easily
deleted, keeps the cache data 'fresh' for people searching for it.) But
these apply only to the ones people submitted with these expectations or
under Groundspeak's terms. There are still those which were NOT submitted
with that in mind or which were submitted before that approach was clearly
spelled out, or the very very few which were completely public and were
imported into the database in the very beginning. The moral grounds for the
objection that these not be included is still valid but becomes of more and
more marginal importance as these caches disappear and as the total number
of caches in the database makes them insignificant. There are also great
arguments about why, given a clean slate, an open data base would be useful
for many people. There are definitely rabidly politicized voices on both
sides of the fence. Perhaps Jeremy should have been more straightforward
about his intentions, sympathetic to the valid concerns, and clear about
the distinctions in the beginning, but giving birth is never a clean
process so maybe we can cut him a little slack on this account even if
there are some reservations about possible disingenuousness on his part. In
addition, "data" contains considerably more than just a set
of coordinates. With the added functionality of the site, each cache has a
large amount of associated data - logs, pictures, maps, clues, ROT13
encoded spoilers, etc. Most of this stuff was clearly submitted to
geocaching alone and none of us has any claim at all on this data.

About "Geocaching" as a service or trade mark: I would encourage everyone
to put any bullying aside (actual and perceived) and use the term as freely
as they wish, particularly those with competing or complimentary cache
submission or mapping sites. I don't think Groundspeak has any more right
to threaten people for using the term than does to threaten
any other backpacking site. The only way they have an actual case to
expropriate the term is if everyone allows it to happen. Keep "geocaching"
no matter where you get your data.

my $0.02 (x10)