User:Wonderchook/2012 OSMF Board Elections Manifesto
I am standing this year for the Board of Directors of the OpenStreetMap Foundation. My impetus for running is that I think it is important to represent the varied views of the community. Often a few adamant voices can make other opinions difficult to be heard. I think for OSMF to continue to grow it is going to be important to have these varied opinions brought out and decisions made based on them.
I've been involved in OpenStreetMap for the past year and a half primarily through the U.S. Chapter of OpenStreetMap and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. Over that time OSM has gone from a part-time hobby for me, to a full-time effort with HOT. Through my work with HOT I've been able to teach OpenStreetMap in many places around the world, help fundraise to allow tools such as the Tasking Manager to be built, assist in the creation of OSM manuals (LearnOSM.org and OpenStreetMap a New Users Guide), and help advocate for open geospatial information in government. I hope both my passion and experience will be beneficial to the OSMF board.
I think sometimes debate within the community is halted by statements such as this. Conventions created 4 or 5 years ago aren't necessarily appropriate or what the greater community wants now. Language barriers however can make it difficult to determine what is desired. I would like to see better ways when the OSMF does need to make a decision to obtain a better gauge of what the opinions are.
Imports are a perfect example of this, perhaps in some countries imports kill community. There are places however that people would rather not map something that already exists just because it "helps build community." That is like saying you should walk to school in an icestorm because it "builds character." Different communities are going to choose different paths. I think that Foundation needs to foster this, while protecting the openness of the data and the stability of the servers.
Foundation membership has grown over the past year, but I still do not think it is what it should be. Better advertisement of both that you can join the OSMF and the benefits should be communicated further. This includes making it clear that people can ask for a waiver on the membership fee. Though the current fee is not very much for some of us, such as myself in the United States there are many places where £15 is quite a bit of money. I would like to look at the geographic dispersal of membership versus contributions to see if the current situation makes sense.
Supporting Not Controlling
Often people state that the OSMF is here to support the project and not control it. Of course nobody wants to be controlled, but what does this really mean? With the current make-up of the Foundation being far fewer individuals than actively contribute to OpenStreetMap I can see where concensus within the OSMF membership does not really mean concensus within the OpenStreetMap contributors.
Currently the OSMF provides very basic support to the community. Are there areas however where this support could improve the growth of OpenStreetMap? Could assistance be given to help with regional State of the Map events? State of the Map Europe was a community driven event and comments have suggested that no help was needed or desired for a future event. That is great, but what if State of the Map Africa or State of the Map Asia do want that help? I think this should be an option, especially for areas where OpenStreetMap is just beginning to grow.
Important board decisions should never be discovered through the minutes. I am not the first to say this, but if elected better communications will be my main goal over the next year. When people aren't surprised by decisions negative reactions often are lessened.
With HOT we have tried to balance communications between being a membership organization, having many volunteers, as well as people working on paid projects. HOT has tried a variety of ways to reach out, including surveys, voting, mailing list discussions, creation of policies, working on a strategy with paid meditators, as well was IRC chats. I've learned a lot from these various approaches and think some could be applied to assist in the work of the OSMF. Recently it was suggested, discussed if meetings could happen over IRC. I think it is important to investigate if different methods of meetings are possible and could enhance communication.
Conflict of Interest Disclosure
I currently serve on the Board of Directors of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, a United States Incorproated Non-profit Corporation. I am additionally employed as HOT's Acting Executive Director.