Steve Coast: "OSM is Inside TeleAtlas' and NAVTEQ's OODA Loop"

Steve Coast gave a good talk at the LI conference. I've seen and heard Steve present several times in the past six months leading up to LI, and to be frank, expected some of the same types of Wikipedia stories, Berners-Lee quotes on remapping, a few slides on openness with regards to Google and TomTom, the 2008 year of edits video, and so on. If you've seen Steve tell the OSM story before, you're familiar with these items...

Steve included all these in his LI storyboard, but to my surprise also included a new topic - OODA loops. OODA stands for Observation, Orientation, Decision, and Action. An OODA loop is a sensory and mental process, and is the premise for a combat-competition theory originally conceived by the late Colonel John Boyd. I knew John Boyd. He was a dear friend and mentor to my father, Chuck Spinney. Of course, as the son of an Acolyte I'm intimately familiar with OODA loops both in business from what family friend Chet Richards covers in Certain to Win and in philosophical contexts from my Dad's own interpretation of Boyd's theories and work. 

Conceptually, an OODA process is simple, but most are rarely conscious of applying it as events unfold. Having an OODA loop consciousness or Fingerspitzengefuhl is key to winning. 

According to Boyd, whoever can process an OODA loop fastest, wins. To Coast's point in his talk, he thinks OSM is now operating inside the decision making cycles and OODA loops of TeleAtlas and NAVTEQ. They can't keep up, they are confused, disoriented, and can't make decisions - all the mental afflictions 40-second Boyd imposed on his opponents. I think it's perhaps too early to assume this, but certainly over time, OSM may be capable of it primarily because central command and control is distributed across an OSM community of resilience and as a result it's completely unpredictable - it's 'a moving target', and therefore confuses the hell out of opponents trying to predict its next move.

In appreciation of Coast's mention of Boyd, I asked Robert Coram, author of Boyd, to send Steve a signed copy of the book.