[Osmf-talk] a receding opportunity

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemeD.net
Mon Oct 1 22:30:20 UTC 2012


A slight step back from this thread, and an alternative view.

OSM has a respectable enough media presence. Not brilliant, not 
terrible. We know journalists who we can (and do) approach with our 
point of view. We feed stuff out via Twitter and elsewhere - our Apple 
cash-in tweet, which I'm disappointed Mikel didn't mention, got our 
highest ever number of retweets 
(http://twitter.com/openstreetmap/status/248759285801185281).

There's a lot more we can do, and it would be great to have more 
volunteers to help us do so. I run the Twitter feed pretty much 
single-handed. I see 20 people weighing in on this thread but only five 
people doing the hard work at the Communications Working Group this 
evening. That is, I would gently suggest, the wrong way round.


But - sometimes you also have to recognise that what you want to 
communicate doesn't fit into the narrative that the media is running 
with. Yes, it would be lovely to get OSM inserted into all those Apple 
vs Google stories, but the narrative is essentially "Apple fails" and 
not much more. Noam Bardin has said really outrageous media-baiting 
stuff and barely anyone's picked up on his quotes. What they have picked 
up is that there's an app called "Waze" in the app store, and it's a 
good alternative to Apple Maps; that's why Waze has had more of an 
uptick from the Apple episode than us.

Why aren't all these disgruntled Apple Maps users flocking to contribute 
to OSM? Well, it might help if we had an app that actually allowed them 
to do so.


Two lessons, and they're not about PR. One's about mailing lists and 
one's about OSMF.

This endless wanking on mailing lists is a time-sink. It really is. I'll 
point the finger at myself first to save picking on anyone else - if I 
had a penny for every OSM list posting I've made, I'd be able to employ 
a full-time codemonkey to work on Potlatch, or something. It's 
disheartening, too. When we've been working to get the story out there, 
reading "we haven't been able to do anything" on some list really makes 
you think "fuck it, I'll give up".

So this might be the biggest challenge for OSMF in the year to come. Fix 
the community, and OSMF itself. Get us back so we're building stuff, not 
just talking about it. Stop the cancer that is killing talk@ 
(https://encyclopediadramatica.se/File:CANCER2.jpg).

Here's a suggestion. Before writing a mailing list message about 
something, consider whether your five minutes would be better spent 
actually _doing_ something to fix the situation. The answer is pretty 
much always going to be yes. I shall now take my own advice and STFU. :)

cheers
Richard





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