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Is OpenStreetMap the next Linux or OpenOffice?

OpenStreetMap, a community-driven alternative to commercial mapping products like Google Maps, could be one of the most exciting open-source projects ever. Google, the top source for mapping data, charges for its data and, more importantly, owns all of its data. OpenStreetMap, on the other hand, allows free use of all its data for any purpose as long as you credit OpenStreetMap and its contributors.

“Free” sounds like a winning strategy, and yet it’s not at all clear that OpenStreetMap will win. While it has a chance to impact the world in a Linux-like way, it also runs the risk of falling flat like OpenOffice. Which will it be?