“Still I rise” – #MapLesotho

The words of the African American Maya Angelou in the aforementioned poem are appropriate in many ways for #MapLesotho.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard

……

“Still I rise”, Maya Angelou 1968

The mixture of tones conjured up by the poem are playful, suffering, frustration, disappointment, defiance, endurance and triumph and we are very sure all these have happened in the HOTOSM crowdsource quantified by Martin Dittus as being 237 human days of labour @ 8 hours per day in his excellent OSM diary entry. In it there are a number of insights, for example #MapLesotho has far more committment of time from its mappers (Mean = 16 hours) than the other large crowdsources.

Chart courtesy of Martin Dittus

Chart courtesy of Martin Dittus

Crowdsourcing is an unpredictable art, where large numbers of people involved (353) can mean really very different levels of committment. And as Martin points out, the “Pareto Principle” exists within #MapLesotho as the top 40% of committed mappers have produced almost 90% of the results. Rather than see that as a negative, or a neutral (social scientists and internet culture commentator use the term “participation bias” as a normal feature of online behaviour), this is surely a positive. It shows the strength, endurance and resilience of a small community of very committed local Basotho openstreetmap contributors. As this chart from Colin Broderick suggests the top 20% of 60 people are 12 people, and 9 of those 12 are Basotho. Exemplary among them is Tshedy, who has amassed over 700,000 node creates or edits since she started intensively mapping in May this year.

Nine of the top 12 contributors to #MapLesotho

9 of the top 12 contributors to #MapLesotho

The interest in #MapLesotho fluctuates based on all kinds of variables. The whims (sometimes) of international contributors, the next big mapping emergency somewhere else, the collapse of internet services in bad weather in Lesotho, distractions, and life in general have all slowed #MapLesotho down, but not stopped in rising as Soren Johanessen shows us week by week. At the time of writing the nodes increase by an average of 90,000 each week. This can be as low as 4,000 some weeks, and over 1 million on other weeks, again proving the flagging and unpredictable nature of crowdsourcing.

An alternative way to create an openstreetmap community was arrived at here. And Lesotho, if not the most mapped is now among the best mapped African nations. And those leading it are local people, who are overcoming problems with the internet not experienced in developed countries.

Referring back to the poem, the gold mine continues to be tapped. If #MapLesotho can have just a little more time from everyone involved it could have 8 million nodes by the end of this year. After February 2016 the calls for crowdsourcing will come from Lesotho, not Ireland or anywhere else.

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