Watch How Open-Source OpenStreetMap Mapped the Globe in Just Seven Years

By Alissa Walker on at

A decade ago, OpenStreetMaps launched as a free, open-source alternative to the other mapping tools you may encounter on the internet. Turns out that the collaborative experiment worked exceptionally well, and thanks to a new site, you can see for yourself how the Wikipedia of mapping has covered the whole planet.

Developer Martijn van Exel has created OSM Then And Now to show how OpenStreetMap has grown since 2007. Like a time machine taking us back to the great unknown, you can zoom to any place on the globe and use the sliders to go backwards and forwards in time, watching as the uncharted lands begin to reveal themselves thanks to the contributions of volunteers. For another perspective, check out this visualisation of every OpenStreetMap edit made since 2008.

OpenStreetMap now counts over 1.6 million contributors; for comparison, in 2007 there were 9,000 contributors. Sites like Foursquare and Craigslist use it as well as plenty of developers who make gorgeous things like these watercolour maps by Stamen. The depth and detail of this resource is a testament to the open web, and it's a beautiful thing, indeed. [Gizmodo en EspaƱol]