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OSMF Board manifesto

Hello everyone,

My name is Kai Krueger and I would like to announce my candidacy for the OSMF Board this year.

The foundation is an organization in support of OpenStreetMap and overall has a very limited scope in its current form. It has limited budget and limited influence in many aspects of the project and often nearly has the mantra of “if it can be done outside of the foundation it should be done outside of the foundation”. As such the influence of any OSMF Board member is also limited. Although I am not always the strongest supporter of a “minimalist OSMF”. I think this does ensure that OSM has the freedom and ability to cater for and evolve with the diversity of the ever growing global community of mappers but also community of users of the data and their various interests.

Never-the-less, OSMF does have an important role to play to support a technically and socially thriving community and there are certain aspects where a centrally recognized organization offers unique benefits.

Improved support

One of the key principles of OSMF is that it “supports, but not controls” the community. However, I think OSMF could further improve in its support for the community in form of providing the community with the tools it needs to be innovative. Mappers, developers, advocates and other members of the community put an incredible amount of precious time, passion and effort into constantly improving OSM, its data and its use to people. However, as many in the community do it entirely as a hobby, they might not have the material resources to implement their ideas and improvements. With past and present projects like gpstogo, which lent GPS units to mapping parties and individuals, or the dev server infrastructure, which provides server resources to those who have great project ideas, but not the means to deal with 100s of GB of databases, OSMF has always supported this idea.

As a board member I would like to work to expand this kind of support further. As mentioned to begin with, OSMF has limited financial resources itself and so unfortunately can't just pay to provide for these kind of projects. However, what I believe OSMF can and should do is help connect members of the community that have spare resources, e.g. unused hardware, old gps units or no longer needed OSM banners to decorate conference booths and those members of the community who have great ideas of how best to take advantage of them. OSMF might also work together with members of the community and help them apply for third party funding by “lending its name”, assuming the goals are fully aligned with that of OSMF.

Improved feedback

OSM is a large global community with very diverse interests and views of the project. In order to best support this community, it is important to understand “what the community wants”. Although there are already more than enough different communications channels, the perception of the community is still largely dominated by a few “who can shout the loudest” on lists or through personal real life contact which by its nature is very limited and often not representative of the diversity in the greater community and their wishes.

I would therefore like to attempt to establish more “numerical” feedback mechanisms to get a more objective and representative view of “what the community wants”. This can range from proper democratic voting in the full community for critical decisions like e.g. the license change in the past to up/down voting of ideas, to simple “like” or “dislike” buttons for smaller decisions and changes.

When attempting to implement such feedback, it is important for everyone to remember that OSM fundamentally remains a do-ocracy. i.e. just because many people wish for a “unicorn” it isn't magically going to appear.

But if there are two alternatives (and yes “do-nothing” can sometimes be an alternative as well), then such feedback could provide valuable information in making decisions. It also can provide a valuable motivational tool for developers in helping judge where best to focus efforts on. It is often much more rewarding to work on a highly sought after feature than one that no one cares about.

Integrate third part developers and end users into “the community”

OSM is seeing an increasing interest from all sorts of big and small companies for whom OSM provides new business opportunities, as well as other third party projects. This is great as third parties play an important part of turning the unwieldy, human unfriendly map database that OSM creates into something its community can directly use and benefit from. I would therefore like to facilitate that all three groups find shelter in the “osm community” and try and help them to work together.

About me

I started with OSM sometime in mid 2007. I always got lost while cycling through London where I lived at the time. I was therefore looking for an offline map I could use on my old little feature phone. OpenStreetMap based applications were the only option I found and I quickly grew fond of the idea and have “stuck” with OSM ever since. Especially as I would consider my self as an open source advocate. I have since increasingly been involved in various technical aspects of the project and with mod_tile and osm2pgsql currently maintain two parts of the central tile serving stack. I am also helping with some of Wikipedia's efforts in an improved integration of osm on their site. In the past I have worked on the Strategic Working Group and am currently member of the Engineering Working Group.

OpenStreetMap is a passion to me, but I do it entirely as a hobby. My “day job” is as a university researcher in computational neuroscience and so I have no personal financial or commercial interests in OpenStreetMap or any geo related industries.

One thing I can not really offer to the board is diversity. As a “white German male living in the USA with a technical background and in his early 30s”, I possibly fall into as typical a demographic as OSM has. However, I hope that with my passion for OSM and my long standing involvement in OSM and its community, I could never-the-less offer the board and OSM in general valuable services if you elect me.

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