The State of Maptime

Beth & Lyzi gathering info from the Maptime community at State of the Map

State of the Map came and went in a blur (as did the past few weeks). I flew in on a redeye on Saturday night, then operated solely on caffeine and adrenaline on Sunday. Even with the sleep dep and the neck cramps from plane sleeping, it was totally worth it for one big reason: finally getting to meet many of the Maptime organizers and enthusiasts from all over the country, in person, and actually talk face-to-face about Maptime. (OMG!)

This face time thing might seem like no big deal, but for me it really was. When I first started Maptime almost a year ago, I never in a million years would have imagined that it would blossom into a community that spans multiple cities. Seriously, all I was thinking about was making maps with my friends. (Important note: I’m endlessly humbled and amazed to learn that a whole network of people just want to make maps with their friends just like I do.) Anyway, organizational systems or guidelines or manifestos or codes of conduct weren’t exactly top of mind. As a result, I’ve found myself kind of stumped when suddenly new friends from all over the country started to ask about those things. Plus, since it’s really all of us who have made the thing together, those are questions that are not just for me to answer. I may have started the thing, but Maptime as a movement is a phenomenon that happened all on its own.

Meeting face-to-face allowed for at least the beginnings of that conversation to happen in a way that is simply impossible to do via hangout / Skype / phone. Technology, I love you, but no, you can’t replace the feeling of being with actual people in actual space. Not yet.

So have we come up with definitive answers? That hasn’t happened yet either, but we’re on our way. That said, we’re starting to get an idea. Lyzi, before the meeting, had a great idea of collecting answers to the following question from all Maptime organizers:

What does Maptime mean to you?


From the answers she collected, and from our open discussion at State of the Map, here’s the shape of what we’re thinking.

Maptime is about…

  • Helping each other
  • Learning from and teaching together
  • Making a safe space for learning
  • Making maps more democratic
  • Making the learning process for maps easier
  • Bringing the Geo community together

An important flip side to this is what Maptime is not, which we started to flesh out as well.

<img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-133” src=/img/maptime-not.jpg” alt=”maptime-not” width=”600” height=”450” />

Based on our discussions, Maptime is not about:

  • pyramid schemes
  • jargon
  • judgement
  • getting other people to do your work for free <–NO
  • being too technical
  • advertising
  • heckling
  • sales pitches
  • arguing
  • violence

(These are also just good guidelines for life.)

Next step here is to create a Maptime Manifesto and a code of conduct, all based on this community input. One thing we are all solid on: within the business landscape of the online geo community, Maptime is neutral ground. We’ll likely always have sponsorship and support from great companies like Stamen and Mapbox and Esri and others, but we want to remain an independent entity to keep the focus on learning and bringing people from all of these organizations (and more!) together in pursuit of open source geo education.

Organizers are also now really rallying behind getting content on this site and on, so keep an eye on these spots for more materials than even I can keep track of! Not to mention updates on how to create your own Maptime and more.

People creating their own Maptimes is probably the most exciting part of all of this. We are now popping up in more cities than ever! The pics above show all of the cities represented at the SOTM Maptime meeting, and here are all the cities that are currently getting started:

  • Atlanta // MY HOMETOWN! YEAH DIRTY SOUTH! coughs
  • Baltimore
  • Cape Cod
  • Chicago
  • DC
  • Toronto
  • Salt Lake City
  • Windsor-Ontario

This means we’re officially international (even if just in North America). In well under a year. Mind. Blown

I’m excited to see where we this experiment in teaching and learning together goes next. Thanks to everyone who has supported us so far.