Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Thu Aug 20 07:34:40 UTC 2009


Peter Batty wrote:
> One other brief comment I would make about all this sudden alarm at the
> prospect of Cloudmade having two board members is just to observe that this
> has already been the case for the past year. During this time the OSMF board
> seems to have functioned perfectly well as far as I can see. 

This is a comment that has been made by other before you: "Conflict of 
interest? There's been no proven wrongdoing in the past, so why would 
there in the future?"

First of all, if you think that the board has functioned "perfectly" 
then you really don't see very far. Indeed it only takes a thorough 
reading of those meeting minutes that are published to see lots of room 
for improvement and quite some stress among members of the board - and 
that is only what made into the written records.

Second, assuming for a moment that things indeed worked perfectly, this 
is no reason to drop all checks and balances because things are not 
going to stay the same. For example, as you know, there are plans on the 
table to turn the Foundation from a meagre organisation of 200 members 
and a little donation money into something with 10000 members (meaning a 
six-figure yearly budget) and several employed staff; the Foundation 
will have a big influence on how the relicensing processs will be 
handled, and so on. I see *lots* of potential for conflict of interest 
here (e.g. how much funds will the Foundation allocate to improving 
community building in which regions of the world, what people will be 
employed and in whose office will they sit...?).

This is simply not a situation where I want any business entity to 
dominate the OSM foundation. (And, if I were a business entity involved 
in OSM-F, I would stay the hell clear of maneuovring myself into a 
dominant position!)

> I agree with James that it is really inappropriate to
> suddenly raise such a big fuss 24 hours before the vote closes, when we have
> already been in the situation that is supposedly such a concern for a year,

This is not true. According to my information, which as I explained is 
one step removed from the truth because I only see mailing list 
subscriptions, Cloudmade employees made up less than 10% of all members 
until yesterday, and more than 20% of members since yesterday. My 
(entirely personal) assumption that all of them actually want to vote, 
whereas only 25% of the other members vote, heightens that disparity.

Believe me, I would have discussed this much earlier had I known these 
numbers, but the additional 20 persons were subscribed to the list just 
two hours before I wrote the E-mail you are replying to.

So you may hate me for raising a fuss - I know many would like this to 
be quiet and peaceful - but the one thing you cannot accuse me of is 
tactically holding back information. I have held things back only long 
enough to think about what I should write. I don't know which people 
knew of these numbers before me; it is them you should talk to about 
keeping this (IMHO vital) information away from us.

(Someone talked of the data protection act, but this only deals with 
information where an individual can be identified, so releasing a number 
like "x% of members are CM employees" has nothing to do with data 

> I reiterate that it is my opinion that Nick and Steve both have made and
> will continue to make outstanding contributions as individuals to OSMF, and
> that their company affiliation is incidental to the work they do in this
> regard. I support both of them continuing as board members.

What makes us different is not that I think Nick or Steve are unable or 
unwilling to make good contributions in the future. I am not arguing 
against them on a personal basis - I am against them because of their 
affiliation with a large commercial entity that is ultimately controlled 
by its investors and whose primary allegiance has to be with the market, 
not the project.


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