User:Mackerski/OSMF Board Manifesto

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Dermot McNally's Board Manifesto

I'm Dermot McNally AKA OSM user mackerski. I started mapping in early 2007 and still haven't stopped. Pascal Neis says I am an “Über Mapper”, and who am I to disagree? I have mapped in many parts of the world that I have been lucky enough to visit, but mainly in my native Ireland with occasional spurts in Germany, Austria, UK, Italy, France and Estonia. From the beginning I have tried to be a “sociable mapper”, both in terms of contact and collaboration with other mappers and in evangelising OSM to those not yet participating.

In the Irish OSM community, much of my early mapping attempted to create a national skeleton of map data with pockets of excellence in order to demonstrate that it really is possible to map a country from scratch. I also engaged with other early mappers to establish strong tagging norms in the country, something the Irish map benefits from to this day. In the year running up to the OSM licence change, I engaged in extensive outreach to mappers, many of whom had become inactive, with very positive effects. Coupled with a campaign of timely remapping of problem data, this had the effect of making the Irish map close to 100% ODbL-ready over a month before the licence change itself.

I have attended each main SOTM event apart from Manchester and Denver, as well as SOTM-EU in Vienna, OSM-IT in Padova and most recently SOTM Baltics in Tartu, which I was privileged to address on behalf of the OSMF Board. I have, in addition, presented on the subject of OSM to non-OSM audiences from various disciplines: GIS, technology and academic.

I have been a board member of OSMF for the past 2 years, during which time I have also participated in the Licence Working Group and the Management Team. As part of the LWG I (along with many others) worked hard to make the difficult process of the licence change as smooth as it could possibly be. This included participation in the process of deciding which edge cases could and could not be deemed ODbL-ready. I contributed (a little) to the code and test cases of the redaction bot and co-ordinated the final timetable of the changeover itself.

As a board member, I have been privileged to serve alongside many fine mappers, all of whom I have engaged with in a constructive and friendly fashion. As with the OSM community itself, the OSMF board often represents a diversity of opinion on specific topics. My approach to difficult issues is one of tolerance and respect. Although every mapper has his or her own vision for what OSM should be, board participation requires us to heed also other board members and the community at large. Pragmatism and compromise are important to me in such situations and I believe that I have demonstrated both during my term.

As to my vision for OSM – as stated above, I don't believe in using a board position to promote my own pet ideas, but some of the things I care about in OSM are:

  • Growing the community, which as the project matures means lowering the barriers to entry for non-techies
  • Seeing our map data used in the real world
  • Demonstrating the virtuous cycle of “use map, spot problem, fix problem, use better map” better than most OSM use cases do today. Because this is what motivates many people to contribute.
  • Finding ways to capture postal addresses much more widely than we do today (many will disagree – that's OK)
  • Being true to our goal that OSM data should be usable in “creative, productive, or unexpected ways”. For me this means that, as a project, we must find ways to allow all mappers to map the reasonable things they want to in ways that don't impact negatively on others who care about different things. Freeform tagging is our usual answer to this problem, but in densely mapped areas we have already reached a practical limit...

I speak English natively, German excellently, French less excellently (I'm a bit rusty, to be honest) and random bits of Dutch, Italian and Estonian. At SOTM Limerick I wrote two non-winning entries in the Limerick competition, one English, one German. At SOTM Amsterdam I wrote one winning and one non-winning entry to the Haiku competition (my Dutch one didn't win, though I thought it was pretty good). I was, as a consequence, declared OSM Poet Laureate, a position which, since there has not been another SOTM poetry competition since, I still claim. For SOTM Girona I wrote the epic poem “The Girona Tales” and wrote and performed the two hit songs (citation required) “Maps! Maps! Maps!” (words) and “I've got a little list”. With any luck I'll have another song in Birmingham, I still have to write it...