[Osmf-talk] OSMF and Evangelism

Rafael Morales rafael_o_morales at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 30 20:09:26 UTC 2009

I agree that the foundation cannot be expected to evangelize the entire world on the "goodness of OSM," to quote Nick,  but I do feel strongly that the OSM Foundation should bring leadership and guidance to the project.  As members of the OSM Foundation, we should then have an opportunity to weigh-in/vote on the Foundation's goals, and by consensus decide what if will focus on.

I personally feel strongly that should include among its primary goals, actively promoting OSM in parts of the world were there is little map data (and I'm referring to the developing world).  It is in those regions that access to quality maps could be most empowering; think Palestine mapping project and humanitarian crisis assistance. After all, it was Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that launched Google Earth into the day-to-day lexicon of the common American, and I would argue that OSM's work in those areas could do much more to promote the project, than mapping every single power line in Germany.  (Sorry German OSM mappers, I give you incredible props for the completeness of your map, it is amazing, but I'm just making a point here).

That said, this does not necessarily mean that the foundation has to devote huge amounts of resources to achieve this. There are certainly a lot of low-cost, high-impact projects it could support, such as setting up micro-grants to support mapping initiatives in the developing world; partnering with companies to provide hand-held GPS units (ex. Garmin) and  laptops (ex. One Laptop Per Child) to mappers in those countries; working with microfinance organizations in those countries to expand the use of OSM in the field; asking OSM mappers from the developed world to donate their old GPS units when they upgrade; setting up challenge/matching grant programs to encourage the OSM community itself to support some of these initiatives; etc., etc.  My point is that the cost need not be extravagant in order to achieve real and significant results.

As those of us that attended SOtM saw, there are a lot of folks doing amazing work in their home countries with access to literally one or two GPS units, imagine what could be done if we can provide some of these mappers with additional resources!  The foundation needs to by servers to allow for the massive amounts of detail in OSM, I understand that, but give people a reason to feel good about contributing to the map and they will participate.  If they think their contribution to the map is only going to make private companies and developers wealthy, where's the incentive?

My two cents,

Rafael Morales
San Francisco, CA

From: Nick Black <nick at blacksworld.net>
To: Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org>
Cc: osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2009 10:00:29 AM
Subject: Re: [Osmf-talk] OSMF and evangelism (was: Conflict of interest)

On 30 Jul 2009, at 16:28, Frederik Ramm wrote:

> Hi,
> This is developing into a nice discussion on the very question of what
> OSMF should be and what it shouldn't. I wish we had had this long ago.

Agree :-)

> Nick Black wrote:
>> I want a project that actively goes out,
>> finds mappers who don't know they are mappers yet and helps them  
>> learn
>> how to map.
> Nice if individuals do this - but it cannot be, in my eyes, the job of
> OSMF. We (OSMF) are not there to preach to the world about the  
> goodness
> of OSM. We are not there to carry OSM into countries that are not
> interested.

Just because someone hasn't heard of us doesn't make them not  
interested.  Its up to all of us to evangelize our community to the  

> We are not in the business of selling OSM to the world.

I think we are :-)

> If
> there are places where OSM doesn't work as good as it could, then our
> natural reaction should be to just wait until they're ready rather  
> than
> spending time and money to inseminate them with something that didn't
> come to them naturally. (You of all people should know that this is a
> difficult undertaking at the very least.)

I think this attitude is completely at odds with what OSM is all  
about.  If Steve had sat around waiting for everyone in the UK to  
realize that there were better ways for people to make and share maps,  
where would we be.  I can safely say that I would not have invented  
OSM myself - I'm incredibly glad that someone came to me and told me  
about OSM.  The same argument can be made for any of the big  
contributions to OSM.

Surely all the guys in Germany who got a leaflet through their door of  
in their pizza box are glad that someone took the time to reach out  
for them and we're glad that they are now contributing the project.

The point of spending time and money is a good one though.  The OSM-F  
needs to look at how best to spend its funds.

> We, OSMF, are in the business of helping OSMers reach *their* goals -
> but it is *them* who set these goals, not us.
>> A project that helps as many people as possible join the fun.
> No, not really my thinking. Once they knock on our door and *want* to
> join the fun - yes. But I don't see *us* knocking on doors to tell
> people how great OSM is.

But how do they find us?  And what if our door is actually the  
drawbridge of a medieval castle.  The castle is gleaming in the  
sunlight, but getting through the doorway is too intimidating.  That's  
the way OSM and the OSM-F appear to a lot of people.  Even the sign-up  
process for the OSM-F scare the life out of a some people and plain  
confuses others.  I want OSM to lower its drawbridge, go out into the  
villages and share the feast :-)

>> When you've got great news isn't it natural to want to share it with
>> people?
> Too much PR speak for my taste.

^ see above for PR speak ;-)

> *If* OSM project members want to go out
> and share their good news with the world - all right, it's something I
> do all the time. If someone comes to OSMF and says "I'm a lone mapper
> here in Kenya and can you help me to get some leaflets printed" - I
> wouldn't hesitate for a moment to allocate funds and find people to  
> help
> him. But that's where I draw the line. If I see that the map in Kenya
> leaves things to be desired, I would *not* want OSMF to allocate funds
> to go search for people we can send to Kenya to improve mapping there,
> or whatever.

Ok, there's a source of mis-understanding perhaps.  What I would  
advocate - and I'm being quite serious - is that we reach out to a few  
Kenyan mappers (there are some on the OSM Dev list for example) and  
see if they need any help.  The Foundation could sponsor some of the  
lead mappers to attend SOTM.  The Foundation could develop an  
educational syllabus for Kenyan university students so that they can  
use OSM data and OSM tools in the classroom.  The Foundation could put  
its support behind renderings of the map in Swahili, or provide money  
so that Kenyan mappers can host tile servers in Nairobi, rather than  
pulling tiles from the OSM London tile server - and suffering from  
terrible latency.

All of this, I believe, is in the roll of the OSM Foundation.  Maybe  
not today, but in the future.

> I believe the OSMF must be a catalyst - helping out where OSM project
> members are active and ask for help. Also, if we go away from the
> regional thinking into thematic areas: If there are some people in the
> community who say "we should really do a hacking weekend to get X  
> done",
> and they ask OSMF for help in organising the event or perhaps stepping
> in for some of the travel costs or whatever - good idea. I would not
> want OSMF, however, to try and second guess, or even lead, the project
> ("we really think the community should work more on X so let's sponsor
> them a hacking weekend they haven't asked for").

I agree that the OSM-F should be community lead - absolutely.  So we  
should offer support to the events you describe.  But I don't think  
giving a talk to the Nairobi Linux Users Group is trying to second  
guess the community at all.  Its what OSM is all about.

> OSMF can afford to let the community lead and simply follow whereever
> they go. A business couldn't, or at least would be expected to be more
> in control than OSMF ever has to be.

There's a big difference between leading and controlling.  I don't  
think the OSM-F should control.  I do think it should lead, but be  
lead by the community.


> Bye
> Frederik
> -- 
> Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09"  
> E008°23'33"
> _______________________________________________
> osmf-talk mailing list
> osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
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Nick Black
nick at blacksworld.net

osmf-talk mailing list
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