Maptime Summit Group

First Ever Maptime Summit

By Katie Kowalsky   @katiekowalsky

It’s been over two years since the State of the Map US 2013, where Maptime was born. As of the first official Maptime in San Francisco at the time of the  Maptime Summit (Monday June 8th), we now have 60 chapters spread over five continents. That growth, all from volunteers who love to learn and teach about maps, is tremendous. The scale at which we’re growing is a testament to how great an idea this is. We’re a unique organization, with a handful of different descriptions of who we are and what we do. My personal favorite definition of Maptime is “hackerspace + knitting circle + maps = Maptime.”

What we do has been attempted and done by many before – there are amazing geo and map organizations all over the world. What makes Maptime special, at least to me, is the acceptance of beginners. Like many organizers, I have had experience in cartography, but there are constantly new things to learn. I had never edited OpenStreetMap and have a lot still to grasp. However, with Maptime, I’m able to delve into new, uncharted territory because integral to our mission is the idea that beginners are the best teachers. Having a community that helps each other and provides materials for beginners makes us incredible at what we do

For the rest of 2015, we’ll be building even more tutorials that are beginner-oriented, hands-on, and fun. Creating templates for organizers and giving a larger breadth of materials than what we currently offer is another important goal for us. The Maptime Summit highlighted that goal in most of the sessions we participated in. We got to hear from Lyzi Diamond, the new executive director for Maptime HQ, give her expert advice for building tutorials, and we all spent time working on tutorial ideas. Alan McConchie and Camille Teicheira walked through how to use Github as organizers and shared best practices for its use. Groups of Maptime organizers discussed topics for tutorials like Intro to Cartography, where we can go over the basic geographic and design principles required for making a great map. We also had a talk earlier that day at our first Unconference session about building accessible tutorials that make everyone with any skill level able to have fun and get something out of Maptime.

Speaking of teaching everyone, Maptime Amsterdam is starting the first Maptime Kids meetup, a tremendous idea that caught on at the summit and will hopefully be kicking off worldwide!

maptime-summit-group-lg (1)

The theme of the Maptime Summit was centered around the idea of growth. The amazing growth of Maptime around the world has meant so much great geo-education being spread to those who would never think they could make a map. With growth comes change, however, and Maptime is no different. How do we scale without burning out?

The key to answering this question is in being able to reach out to new people and ask for help. Maptime will always be an amazing resource for anyone who wants to participate, and any future growth will not hinder that. With this inevitable growth, we’re making a lot of changes. As mentioned earlier, Lyzi Diamond is stepping up to do more work for Maptime HQ in her new role as executive director. Beth Schechter is taking a bit of a step back from the operations of Maptime to take some much-needed time for herself, though she will continue as president of the board. She can’t quit us though – Beth’s role in getting us to a 501(c)(3) non-profit status is continuing until we get to be an official non-profit organization, and she hopes to help with as much organizational documentation as she can for the summer.We love everything she’s done for us and will continue to do and can’t wait to hear about her move to Portland!

The Maptime Summit was amazing for everyone who attended, whether you watched on the Google Hangout or in person at NYU’s Kimmel Center. Special thanks to everyone who works hard for Maptime every day, volunteering their time and resources to be an organizer or presenter. These people are the backbone of our organization and why we’re doing so well.

Another set of thanks goes out to our sponsors who made this possible: CartoDB, Mapzen, Mapbox, Stamen, State of the Map US, all are incredible for reaching out and helping us. We, as an open source mapping community, are only the sum of our parts and wouldn’t be possible without anyone and everyone who’s been involved with Maptime. 

About Maptime

Maptime is an open learning environment for all levels and degrees of knowledge, offering intentional educational support for the beginner in geospatial information technology, GIS, and open source geospatial and mapping tools and tech. Maptime chapters worldwide meet regularly to share, teach, learn, and develop – a fully inclusive community-based initiative. Maptime is simultaneously flexible and structured, creating space for mapping tutorials, workshops, ongoing projects with a shared goal, and independent/collaborative work time. Beginners most welcome!

For more information or to search for a chapter near you, visit: and follow on Twitter: @maptimehq

xyHt is a proud partner and promoter of Maptime



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *