FOSS4G 2009 announced its selection for paper presentations and my abstract was selected. Titled, "Getting a Pulse", its an attempt to get a census of active users of open source geospatial software. It was partly inspired by an earlier post about Neo vs Paleo geographers and a continuation ideas I presented at the MUM/EOGEO 2005 Conference titled Open Source vs Closed Source: 42 Midgets and a Lion. The tongue-in-cheek and politically incorrect title was from a popular 2005 internet meme based on a fake BBC news report and was meant frame the discussion in terms of the likelihood that any of the numerous open source geospatial projects could replace the major geospatial software vendors. Midgets and lions aside, I think that the geospatial industry is in a state of flux and that there are new contenders entering the market every day. The very nature of the geospatial market is changing dramatically.
For this presentation, I'm extracting the info from the user mailing lists and inserting them into PostgreSQL for giggles and because SQL is more fun for analysis than java. If I can figure a way to find the location from generic email addresses such as gmail, I'll add geometry to each record. So far I've written a module to extract information from mailman list archives, and extracting data from sourceforge list archives is next. I'll publish all the data and tools when I'm done.