TransforMap and MMM

I think it would also be important to mention somewhere that TransforMap is not one organization publishing one page. We’re a collective, an alliance of individuals working towards a common goal: interconnecting existing maps and databases to increase the visibility of alternatives.
However, in order to make our message clear for the different publics (normal and real mappers including those active in other communities) I think we need at some point to introduce some distinction about who we are, and what we are doing. I would propose the following way to distinguish two things that already exists (continuing the a in Potsdam that was never closed):

  • TransforMap is mainly the group of communities and individuals that publish TransforMap: a map of alternatives, one product under one URL. Not all, those that are coopted by the TransforMap community. So far this is very much embodied by the Taxonomy group. More than working on a taxonomy as programmers understand it, I believe the group is defining the normative boundaries of TransforMap: “what’s in, what’s out”. That doesn’t mean that under you wouldn’t be able to access other sub-maps or filter along your preferences.

  • MMM - Mother of Many Maps: I understand this as the open community (less normative) that is focusing on the technical challenge of connecting and aggregating maps by defining standards and frameworks, developing various bits of codes, input mask, databases. This is the less normative part of the current TransforMap. There, there is not one vision, one product, it’s multiple. There is no one page. This represents all the infrastructure TransforMap needs, but also potentially more. This would let the door open to try various technical solutions in parallel as we do now, but also engage with all programmers who are already active (like Yohan Boniface from Umap) in developing various mapping resources. Kind of formalizing a bit by naming an open collective for open mapping in the direction of linked data.

I think this distinction could help in communicating with different types of actors. It doesn’t have to be separate in how we work. In a way it’s to separate two distinct thread of activities that have emerged with time from the initial meetings.

What do you think?

interesting distinction, I need to think about it

@almereyda @species @josefkreitmayer any thinking about this?

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I see some advantages, some disadvantages.
think I would not go with mother of many maps, but see value in the idea of

  • map(s)
  • interoperability network

am not sure, if it would not be best to get that within the realm of transformap on the one side, on the other side, I see a lot of energy on the technical side lost with taxonomy issues, or trying to solve requests from that side.

@josefkreitmayer I do not understand your comment.
Lets put that on the agenda for our next call.

I don’t understand you neither.

@toka @alabaeye
which call would that fit?
I would postpone that after mapping month may is running.

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Vielleicht hilft es auch, wenn wir auch ab und zu deutsch schreiben :wink:

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this wasn’t about agreeing now, more mid-term thinking about what we do…

As @Giuliana said so nicely on the mailing list during the name discussion:

Mir ist MMM auch total recht. Transformap können wir auch gerne wieder vergessen.

Yet I see more than one meaning for this abbreviation, which was the message being replied to. I’d still love something like Mapa Mundi Multitudinem, if this was any close. But I’m not so good with old languages.

Unfortunately I didn’t find any sources who could show the development of this distinction. Maybe it was only orally conveyed?
Still MMM remains to be, first, and second, a bit rough on the edges. Trying to move the moose, TransforMap, and providing it with a solid foundation to build upon.

Of course both processes depend on each other, as TransforMap’s Community Story is the main input for any MMM related explorations. Where on the other hand TransforMap wouldn’t have any stand without the digital tools of MMM.

Seems similar to Linux / GNU.
Linux is (only) the kernel, but few people are aware of that.

I’m reviving that discussion because I think we have an increasing need to bring clarity in the different things that are being done by “TransforMap”.
For those who haven’t been very active some of this contribution may be a bit obscure, please hang on. You may scroll down and look for the “Proposal” and then come back to the beginning for understanding the background of my proposal (it is so far only my personal view).

So first let me explain my current thinking which stems from personal frustration as a core contributor, exchanges with people who feel like outsiders, and a my latest analysis of TransforMap.

It seems that some actors that are developing relevant maps are not so happy with the fact that TransforMap (as a whole) is at the same time:

  • an effort to improve interoperability of maps and exchange of data, in order to create a data commons/ecosystem about and for the transformation.
  • one map under a URL (now that the crowd can edit, embed in websites, with a proposed taxonomy. A map that has (blurry) borders (i.e. insiders and outsiders).
  • some kind of an informal service provider (through Get Active and Ecobytes) to SSEDAS partners by putting together their map (within a TransforMap database).

There is some kind of a conflict of interest here. The one map we’re trying to put together may be seen as (and will de facto be) a competitor to other existing maps that may be very similar because they are crosscutting: Karte von Morgen, L’Italia che Cambia, OpenGreeeMap, Carte des Colibris, etc. And at the same time we would try to support inter-operability of those maps and channel their data to one map under one specific URL.

How far is this perception justified? I’m asking myself (this is a direct question to those who are operating (a) map(s) : @SamRossiter @Luca @Wendy @wellemut…).
Honestly, we have to recognize that we are trying to do a few different things at the same time. I believe we should spend the time to look at the broader picture and not just dive into the technical development where we just develop features without really systematically assessing the needs of our communities.
This is very much connected to the need to have a roadmap. We need to better define our mission, to avoid being sidetracked (how many hours are spent to import data from SSEDAS partners into OSM?).
More than ever we need to establish a distinction between the various activities we are involved in. From the initial call from Silke to create one map, our incremental understanding of the problem at hand led us to go much further: especially towards inter-operability. And it’s good. Because there is much more than just creating another map.

Concretely, in working together, we have also been experiencing the problem that we have a very heterogeneous community behind TransforMap: activists with no technical knowledge and maps specialists. We can’t get all those people to work together all the time, it’s not productive. We should make it clear. At the same time technicians cannot run and develop stuff that is disconnected from the needs of the activists and the existing maps we want to serve (those are completely missing in the discussion so far!).

#A rough proposal

So let me put together a proposal on how to reorganize ourselves, throwing some ideas that could look like some embryonary epic user stories.
[Note for those who are not familiar with agile development, a user story is a description of what a user could experience using a new system like an app, a website. When those require a lot of work they are called epics.]

Because we want to serve existing maps and not become a centralizing body, should we change the TransforMap name towards ‘TransforMapS’ and focus on showcasing the existing maps on a TransforMapS website?

  • Such website would allow to discover an existing map that may fit your needs by filtering along themes (epic 1)
  • or, if there isn’t anything that suits your needs, enable you to create one map with one click like Umap with per default an open license, using a data standard and the connection to the data commons/ecosystem of MMM (epic 2).
  • On this ‘TransforMapS’ website, once could also use a maps viewer (and data importer for scientists) by adding its own selection of maps and seeing the points aggregated from many maps (something like - epic 3.
  • This website would need some kind of a TransforMaps Assembly that decides which maps should be listed on the website. This Assembly is made of activists who don’t have necessarily technical skills. (epic 4)

##MMM (or any other name that would make sense)
MMM is the community/collective of transformation mappers. MMM is the discussion place (an evolved version/section of this current forum - epic 5) for transformation mappers to develop inter-operability standards, APIs, vizualize their taxonomies/ontologies to find alignment, develop new icons, etc. This is a hub that will direct towards other collaboration platforms that suits specficic needs (Github, ontology server, …). This is where the data commons of alternative economies as well as the technical stack is being aggregated and (when needed) partly co-produced.
The MMM inventory of maps ( would be (is) completely open (mini epic 6) No normative boundaries being set, just characteristics being specified (tech spec., licenses, normative characteristics…). From this crowd-sourced inventory, are chosen some maps to be displayed on TransforMaps.

#The issue of creating a new organization
We never really opened that discussion while we have often alluded to it (this also needs a specific discussion thread!). I believe that we need an independent organization to hold liabilities, trademarks, and manage funding in an independent manner, serving clear commons-oriented goals and identified constituencies (communities).
Form and governance: That would be a TransforMapS association or something similar (foundation maybe). Its membership should be mainly composed of the organizations/individuals that are active in mapping the transformation: the TransforMapS Assembly. New members would be coopted by the founding members.
Activities and mandate: It would not develop itself software, tools. It would subcontract service providers for the MMM forum, its website and vizualization tools, and give out mini grants to (MMM) mappers to build up shared infrastructure and develop inter-operability standards. It would have a mandate to raise funding and be mostly operated by volunteers. In its charter it would be clear that its goal is to support communities and individuals that are mapping the transformation by giving them visibility as well as contributing to a data commons and an open source mapping ecosystem.

Question to all: what do you think? (don’t be shy to answer on just small bits or the whole, or just tell me that it’s too cryptic :smile: )

Specific question to core contributors: How far can the current activities under SSEDAS and CHEST could be rescoped under such a rationale (in case it would receive support) - please distinguish the TransforMapS and MMM from the organization part, they are different issues.

ping to core contributors (check some users have read thousands of posts: those are what I call “core contributors”) @almereyda @josefkreitmayer @Silke @species @gandhiano @toka
… and wider community @SamRossiter @Giuliana @Luca @Wendy @wellemut @klaus @rene @EllenFriedman @daniel @Simon_Sarazin @TDoennebrink


Great post @alabaeye. I’m taking it off as an inspiration for Die Welt der Commons, starting now. :running: Heading there.

Thank you @alabaeye. Some post make you believe, telepathy works.

First, I think this contribution has itself the quality to fit in the blog, which we should evolve to something to reflect current inside to outside.


I am not so sure about the aspect of competition. In a conversation with the IT-guys from Transition , especially with Abe the new webmaster, I got the idea, (@SamRossiter maybe you are also aware of that idea?) that, the aggregation is not a full aggregation, but the link at the point leads to the information on the site of the specific partner. Abe explained to me, that the map aggregation of the national Transition Hubs to the international Hub´s map could work like that.

That is quite similar in the aggregation project in Berlin about housing, that @alabaeye mentioned:

Have a look at the map of “Wirbleibenalle”.

  • Some data displayed, where they themselves are mentioned at source.
  • Some data categories mention other groups as source.
  • If you klick on the POIs of another source, each contains a link “details” which links to the description of the POI at the website of the cooperation partner.

So each partner in the network can stand fully alone and at the same time be stronger by cross-referencing in the network.

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For me personally, my driver is to have that one map (or many times with different names hosted by different actors, the quality of that one map) is a big driver for me, as well as the idea of interoperability to allow communities to act independently, but contribute to the bigger picture, as well as receiving from the bigger frame, in their specific areas of interest.

Has my full support.
I even think that is vital.

Updates on the SSEDAS, as well as on the CHEST project.

Which by the way I try to urge for opening a project category for quite some time, to publish more information on them, as well as enabling discussions in a structured way.


Originally it was a wish from SSEDAS to have the Data directly OSM hosted.

This week, as I had conversations with @alabaeye and @species we drastically reduced the time that needs to be spent by revisiting the data for accuracy. As it would sidetrack from the actual development, we reduce that part in SSEDAS to more practical deliverables, that serve the SSEDAS project, as well as the overall development. Now the use of OS-Software is a requirement of SSEDAS, the use of the OSM POI-Database is not. Besides this step is budgeted within the SSEDAS project.

The workflow is already quite refined and getting data into OSM is not a trivial thing, but should be a strategical decision, how much and when we want to concentrate on that, as OSM is currently by far the biggest communitybased open source mapping effort there is, and probably also has the best developed stack of mapping-tools available. (e.g. most OS based maps build on their geo-coder). Nevertheless, the decision to work OSM-based is now not bound anymore.


  • They need to be integrated as important stakeholders to be involved in the CHEST project.
  • There is a work-package in CHEST for that, and basically whatever we produce should be based on a sound understanding of what is actually needed.
  • I think it is e.g. important, to adress a relevant number of projects from our collection, (that fulfills the criteria of running and progressing mapping efforts), in a structured manner,
    • to find out, about their needs, interests,
    • and also bring in potential partners that want to be part of developing an interoperability network for Transformative maps.

I am not so much interested in the TransforMap, TransforMapS, MMM discussions, but more interested, how we get that running and what form (not names or such, but form) it could have:

@alabaeye bigup for your thoughfulness and getting that conversation going!

Dear Adrien

Thanks for your mail!

For me it is hard to know, where to discuss the best data standard. Every
software engineer has a different view which tool or framework is the best.
So I stopped bothering about that. Markus called to Jon and Michael and
they discussed something.

The more important question for me is, which target group do we actually
reach? And how. This usecase question you pointed out.

I hope that you and Josef are aware about the different projects and target
groups and that you moderate a process and call the important people to
bring everything together. Checking all forums is just to much time. There
needs to be somebody sampling everything together.

We are open to any idea of collaboration.
Just the direct access to the osm database seems to be too complicated at
the moment.

Is there any body else developing any usable databases?

I think we should discuss concrete questions bilateral may be even by phone
which is faster.
I think more structure and panels slow down the process even more…

So just call me…

Great for your initiative for this mail, so I know a little bit more about

Send from my fairphone
0049 1573-4448245

hello all,

I’d like to contribute to this important conversation, and appreciate
Adrien’s ping @Wendy. Reading through the page linked at the bottom, and
this very thoughtful email, I concur this"resource is a permanent work
in progress". I’m trying to think outside the box that so many of us
with mapping platforms are struggling with. Regardless of how
well-funded and volunteer-supported the start up is, the ongoing reality
(marketing, user support, maintenance, new features, and all the
pollution, fossils etc.) is daunting.

My suggestion: approach, which is all about the
circular/sharing economy, and find a collaborative middle ground with
them to make this shared mapping platform their 2016 focus and put their
resources toward this effort. If you search for map, you’ll see it does not
come up very in their database - it’s a missing link. I watched this
Dutch round table
and it made me wonder if their forthcoming presidency of the EU might
lead to a giant leap forward for the sharing economy, and hence, the

I can’t really speak to the question of forming a new organization - of
course, you already have. Even if you don’t formalize it, it too, will
be a permanent work in progress.

I seek to support the capacity building aspects of mapmaking - this is
fueling the NYC Green Map project’s current expansion from mapping to
making green sites. This is putting us back in touch with the issues,
the people and the urgency of this work. And then, back around to mapping.

I’d like to share this with a few people in our network. If that’s not
OK, please let me know. Special thanks to Thomas Schwab in Munich, being
the connection between our platforms, and to each of you for making
progress on this challenge.

all the best, Wendy

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Hi everybody and thanks Adrien for the post. Of Course I agree with all your background considerations since we spoke about them in the last days :smile:
I only like to add that (in my opinion) the problem is that “Transformap” and “MMM” are not only two parallel projects, but also two completely different visions about approaching the main focus, hence they are in conflict one with the other. Both can lead to interessing and meaningful direction, that everybody has the right to follow. But they will have really different workflow and perception from the outside, particularly from the “already doing maps” community.
From my side for example, if you keep going in the direction “Transformap”, I will be open about discussing cooperation in the same way that I’m open to discuss cooperation with ANY OTHER map project on the web.
If you take the direction “MMM” I can imagine to step in in a more active and contributive way, since I’m working right now in Italy exactly about this topic - sharing data between different map projects.
What it’s important to me, is that nevermind which direction you guys decide to take (like I said, both can lead to interesting, right and meaningful projects), you will take a decision asap. I personally think that a scenario where the same team develop both projects it’s very untransparent.
It’s quite a urgent topic for me cause we are right now working active in Germany in different regions with our project, and some partners ask me about Transformap, and I am often in difficult position answering, having not a clear idea about what Transformap became in the last months, hence mixing facts with personal opinion, that could lead to misunderstanding particulary with people with less technical background that cannot really understand some of the points. And I really don’t like this position :smile:
Of course what I wrote it’s only my vision and opinion that could be different from the one of others.
We will meet on wednesday evening and I can share better my thoughs if it’s wished (somehow at solikon it didn’t work out very well)
Anyway I think that beside my thoughts, this is a discussion that should be faced internally between the core active people that worked daily on Transformap project in the past months.
See you

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