User:Toffehoff/2012 OSMF Board Elections Manifesto

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The last 1.5 years I've been active in the OSMF board in the position of Secretary. Most of the work I've done is behind the scenes to keep the organisation running. For example: Preparation of (board) meetings and keeping the membership registration up-to-date.

It's a great project to be working for. And I'd like to continue with that if you all would give me the chance to do so.

If you want to know what I've done the last year. Have a look my answers to the questions on the Board Election page.


OSMF vs OSM

The OSM project and the OSM Foundation are two different entities. The OSM project is run by a community of 600K+ volunteers who create the most awesome map of the world. A self regulating community that decides themselves whether they want to map via on the ground surveying or by armchair mapping or by importing other open datasets. Sets the tagging standards, etc. Next to the mapping community, there is also a user community emerging. People and organisations who are making great use of the OSM data. Both communities need each other to be able to grow.

I see the OSM Foundation as the entity that facilitates the OSM project in order to make it happen. Next to doing the basic tasks like buying and running the servers, it should stimulate the further growth of the project. Publishing the data, promoting the project, creating the necessary resources for the (mapping and user) community, setting out long-term goals, etc. All the things needed for OSM to continue to grow and become the world's most used map.

As already noted, OpenStreetMap is a community project. That means a team; not bunch of individuals who want to do whatever they like to do. We all need to work together to create our common goal. Where we, despite our differences in opinion, respect each other.

And let's also not forget that the world is bigger than only Europe or the USA. There are OpenStreetMappers on all continents (although I'm not completely sure about Antarctica ....)

Volunteers vs Accountability

The OSMF is a voluntary organisation. That results in people having limited amount of time available to do work for the organisation. Some things will just take longer to finish. However, that should not be an excuse to never get things done. A voluntary organisation does not necessarily mean that you can just simple do whatever and whenever you feel like it. It's a team working together in making things happen. If, within a Working Group, you cannot commit much time at a certain time, that is understandable. But make it clear, so other can help.

There is talk about paid staff. That is a huge step for the Foundation. Not least of the long term (financial) commitment. The Foundation has recently hired help on project basis, to push the license change forward. The process had come to a halt, due to limited time available. It worked well: the goals were clear; there was a match in expertise needed and the communication with the Working Group on how to proceed went smoothly. Similar ways of hiring help to get some tedious work done might be considered for future projects. For each instance we need to think about the expertise needed and the duration. This will help us get things done, getting the right expertise and without a long-term (financial) commitment.

Now to the Board. I'm of the opinion you should expect more from Board members, than from regular volunteers in e.g. the Working Groups. Board members are legally responsible for the Foundation. They are people who voluntarily stepped forward and whom the membership elected and have put their faith in. Members may expect Board members to do their job. If they don't have the time to do their work, they should resign so somebody else can take over.

Growth

OpenStreetMap is still rapidly growing. It's more and more seen as a worthy alternative to commercial data available. The success of OSM has also affected existing geo-data providers. Google MapMaker is shaping itself more and more as a competitor of OSM. Just saying that we have an open license and therefore are better is not compelling enough. The ballgame is changing, we need to adapt.

There will be other mappers joining the community. Mappers who may need some more help, mappers who are not smart enough to understand the JOSM editor. Mappers who haven't been active with the project from the beginning and therefore not familiar with the fundamentals of the project. We need to be ready for them. For example by creating more intuitive editors, or creating specialty editors. By having good resources for new mappers where they can get help; by having a sound landing page for people who want to know more about OSM. There is a lot of information already available, but too hard to find.

How is our infrastructure going to look in the coming years? What will the demands be and how can we be ready in time? What will be the financial outlook of the project? How can we manage to raise enough money to keep the project running; even if we've grown x times the current size?

It's like a frog and boiling water. If you put a frog in boiling water it jumps out. If you put a frog in cold water and slowly cook the water, the frog will stay in the water and be cooked. Let's not get cooked.

This is what the Foundation (and the Board especially) should work on.

Openness vs Control

The Foundation is and will be an open organisation. Members have a right to know what's going on and to have influence over this. The OSMF should work openly and transparently where it can. However, it should also uphold the privacy of individuals and be able to handle confidentiality if needed. Currently there is no structured procedure how, what and when to publish things to the membership. There are different expectations within the membership on what and how to be informed. This needs to be structured. Partly on my initiative, the board is working on a framework to publish a regular report. A quarterly financial report will be published once the systems are in place. Earlier this month I started with publishing a monthly membership update. If more information is wanted, the board should look into that in how to make that available in a structured way. Just blurting out ad hoc messages gives an unsatisfying feeling; with the membership/community as well with the Foundation.

This does not take away the need to announce important news whenever it happens.


If you feel that the organisation is still not open enough to it's members, please join the Communication Working Group and help us make things better.


I would like to continue to help make OSM the most used map in the world. In order to do so, I need your vote.

There is so much more to explore. Together we can make it happen!