[Osmf-talk] Past - present - future

Henk Hoff henk.hoff at osmfoundation.org
Tue Dec 1 01:41:58 UTC 2015

Hi all,


As you all have noticed, I’m not running for re-election for the Board of
the OSM Foundation. Although I think I still can bring my expertise to value
within the Board, I think I will not be able to dedicate enough time the
coming year. I have just started a new job, which will demand a lot of time
from me.


The OpenStreetMap project is a great project in which I have spent a lot of
my time and money. I’ve experienced a lot of happy moments, but also sad and
deeply frustrating. 

The saddest moment by far is hearing that a fellow Board member, Ulf Müller,
had been brutally murdered. I still have no words to describe the shock and
horror of how Ulf was taken from us. May he rest in peace.


Taking that moment aside, there are other not so great moments. We are all
passionate people. We are also different people; different upbringing,
culture, work/study, friends, etc. That creates the need to talk and listen
in order to understand each other and find the common ground to build upon.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many cases where the listening stopped and the
whole thing turned into a trench war. As a result, everyone loses. We can
and should do better.


But enough about sadness. There have also been plenty of highlights.
Starting with the State of the Map events. I am getting so much energy out
of these events. It’s a place to meet the people that make the community. To
talk with them, have fun with them, learn from them. Every single one has
been a success in its own way. Take SotM 2014 in Buenos Aires: it resulted
in a SotM LatAm 2015 in Chile and in having now two candidates for the Board
of the OSMF. Fantastic!

I’m glad to see a new group of people having joined the SotM organizing team
to make SotM 16 in Brussels yet another awesome event.


I’m thankful that I have also been able to work on the license change, the
rewrite of the Article of Association, setting up the structure for Local
Chapters, the membership registration (and moving it to CiviCRM), the
Management Team, and so many other things.


I would take the opportunity to give the following advice to the next Board:
Be a *Board*, not “yet another working group”. We have a structure of
Working Group doing the operational work. The Board should be busy with
giving direction to the Working Groups; set procedures to enhance
transparency throughout the organisation; think about how to strengthen the
organisation; have a vision of where you want to be in a couple of years and
work out a plan how to get there. But stay away from doing day-to-day work:
create functioning Working Groups to do that. 

Ideally a Board member should not be active in a Working Group. A volunteer
Board member will already need to spend plenty of time on his/her work
within the Board


We need a good functioning organisation in order to be able to protect the
project. The mantra “to support, not control” has let us into a situation
where other organisations get into a position where they can get control
over (parts of) the organisation. Which is not good. The OSMF should be
running the ship. Not by telling others what not to do, but take the
steering wheel and lead it in the right direction.

To be clear: I’m not talking about control in the way that the OSMF is going
to determine what and how to map. That should always be the community’s


To do that you need the resources to make that happen. At some point we
cannot compete as a low budget volunteer organisation with organisations who
have plenty of people and money to spend. We need to have full-time people
working on the organisation becoming better.

I’m definitely not suggestion we should become a big organisation like
Wikimedia. We are miles away from that. Let the fear for something not
prevent us from setting the first step to a better future.


Talking of Wikimedia: I personally think it is wrong to have Wikimedia Italy
represent the OSM community in Italy. (Wikimedia Italy has applied to become
the Local Chapter for OSM in Italy).


Let me end with a positive note: it is amazing to see how OpenStreetMap has
changed business, society and people. That is all thanks to you. Together we
are a strong community. And strong communities can achieve amazing things.
Now and in the future.


Happy mapping!



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