[Osmf-talk] Running

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Thu Oct 23 21:12:48 UTC 2014


On 10/23/2014 04:57 PM, steve at asklater.com wrote:
> I left a few years ago because I thought I was part of the problem and
> was holding things back. It doesn't look like that was entirely the
> case.

After leaving the OSMF board, you have started two initiatives that
were, at least partly, in competition with OSMF.

You started "MapClub" as a club for mappers to talk to each other and
perhaps buy a few servers to offer services of interest to members. I
gather that this has not really taken off and you're not pursuing that
any more. Please correct me if I am wrong.

You also started "OSM Plus" which was partly a conference but partly you
were also testing the waters for a membership-based organisation; I
don't know what the status is. "OSM Plus" posed as an elite circle for
business people to discuss OSM out of the public eye, and as a place
where questions were finally answered.

Both these initiatives were the result of a certain playful and
disruptive attitude that, years ago, helped you found OpenStreetMap
against players like the Ordnance Survey; in these cases, alas, the
target of the disruption was OSMF which in your eyes didn't do enough to
cater to these audiences. I can only guess why you didn't choose to set
up a "commercial users working group" in OSM instead - my guess is that
you felt it was a waste of your time to achieve something in OSMF when
you could also go it alone.

I was very uncomfortable from the start about having you listening in to
OSMF board communications as a "chairman emeritus" and at the same time
running something that I perceived as competing. But what was worse, you
even involved Henk and Oliver, two sitting board members, in your
something which in my mind was at least stretching their loyality and it
was thoroughly improper. It was one of those things where *everyone* who
heard about it said "uh that's a bit fishy" but my protests behind the
scenes were ignored. The whole thing culminated in the local organisers
of SOTM Birmingham threatening to pull out because you were having Henk
plan a OSM-Plus conference day right next to SOTM Birmingham and Henk
was essentially supposed to acquire sponsors for both organisations -
something which was perceived by everyone but those involved with
OSM-Plus as a giant conflict of interest. (Henk then announced he'd
pause his involvement with OSM Plus for the duration of the conference
but still maintained that there had not ever been any conflict of

SOTM Birmingham turned out to be the least commercially successful OSMF
SOTM conference to date, which could of course have had any number of
other reasons.

Even when OSMF started to take on corporate members, each of these
applications would go have to go through the hands of Henk (for signing
them up) and Oliver (for sending them an invoice) - precisely the two
board members whose portraits (at least until very recently) proudly
shone from the osmplus.co web site.

> Since approximately then I've got married and had kids and see
> things in a different light.

Does this different light now let you see how you made things difficult
for the whole board back then with the actions I described above, and
have your marriage and kids let you mature to a point where you can
honestly say that such scheming is now beneath you? Have you shut down
"OSM Plus", or will businesses continue to have to decide whether to
give money to OSMF or OSM Plus?


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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