[Osmf-talk] Street Cred - required for a board position?

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Sat Nov 28 11:30:36 UTC 2015


   in the run-up to previous elections, at OSMF but also elsewhere like
OSM-US, there has been much discussion about in how far mapping
experience should be an essential ingredient in a successful candidate.

I've been reading manifestoes and at least one candidate not only asked
to refrain from judging him by his mapping work, he went as far as
claiming that a preoccupation with actual mapping has created a cultural
problem in OSMF. The word "diversity" has been used.

I've been thinking about this.

At our last board face-to-face meeting, we had an external facilitator
who knew next to nothing about OSM and had, as far as I know, zero
mapping experience. Nonetheless he did a good job and in his way
advanced our cause. The same is true for our financial accountant with
whom I have a monthly telephone call; she's probably using Google maps
and certainly won't know her nodes from her relations.

It would certainly go too far to request that everyone who does anything
for OSM(F) needs to be a mapper.

But what about board members?

While it is convenient to have board members who actually do operational
tasks - like fundraising, communicating, maintaining servers, organising
conferences, or keeping track of finances - this is not the core job of
the board; these things can be outsourced to working groups or paid
professionals. The core job is of a more strategic nature - i'd perhaps
paraphrase it as "keeping the project healthy". (A list of things that
current board thought to be part of this is here
but in theory this can change with every new board.)

To keep OSM healthy, you have to understand OSM, and I believe that the
idea of recording your physical environment and your local knowledge and
contributing that to a global, open database is the very essence of what
we do. You don't need knowledge of arcane public transport relations and
you don't have to have traced 10,000 building outlines. Perhaps you're
new to OSM and you're fascinated but you're only starting your mapping.
All that is no problem. But if someone doesn't *care* about mapping then
they obviously don't get OSM. If someone has a few hours to kill in a
foreign city and doesn't think about mapping at least a few post boxes
or opening times (or street names if they're in some
aerial-imagery-tracing region) - they're obviously not one of us! (I
have once heard someone applying for a board position - not this year
and not OSMF - say: "I think mapping would not be a good use of my time.")

The OSMF board, and OSMF altogether, can certainly use a wide range of
skills. We could use good communicators, we could use people with a good
network who help us bring in more funding, we can use people who are
strong on teaching or strong on organising. But to help keep (or if your
outlook is more negative: help *make*) the project healthy as a member
of the OSMF board, you must understand what this is about, and it *is*
about mapping at its core. If you think that mapping is somehow
uninteresting, unimportant, silly, or not worth your time because your
time is better used with something else: then the OSMF can still use
your help, perhaps as a contractor or as a specialist in a working group
or elsewhere, but not on the board of directors of the OSMF.

Which is, as always, just my personal opinion.


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

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