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

Harry Wood mail at harrywood.co.uk
Sat Nov 28 13:54:36 UTC 2015

> preoccupation with actual mapping has created a cultural problem in OSMF

It's an interesting thing to ponder.

On the one hand I guess I'm preoccupied by it myself. I do find it weird that people sometimes want to have a voice in the community, at any level actually, when they haven't done *any* mapping. It's weird because I spend so much time and energy thinking about how to get new people to edit. How to persuade them to chip in a little bit. Convincing them that the editors are easy to use, and that they should have a go. How can it make sense to have somebody enthusing about OpenStreetMap, but who hasn't done this basic thing themselves? I don't think this actually applies to any of the board candidates though (they've all done *some* mapping, and actually they are all beyond beginner level)

But zero mapping contribution is an easy thing to fix by the way. Let me take this opportunity to invite *anyone* who is on this mailing list,  if you've not done any editing on OpenStreetMap, but you're interested enough to be a member, perhaps you have a corporate day job interest in OpenStreetMap, perhaps you're interested in helping in some other way. I invite you to get in touch we me personally and I will hand-hold through the process of making your first OpenStreetMap edit. If you're from a different background (not a white male aged 20-40) I'll be even more happy to hear from you!

But back to this...

> preoccupation with actual mapping has created a cultural problem in OSMF

There's truth in that, in so far as we should avoid getting preoccupied by it. We shouldn't look at edit counts and say candidate A is twice as good as candidate B because they did twice the number of map contributions. There are quite a few people who make fantastic contributions to OpenStreetMap (this includes developers and operations folks for example) who've stopped doing mapping themselves. Does it mean they have OpenStreetMap in their hearts to a lesser extent than the keen mappers? I don't think so. Not really.

But even having said that, I can't help feeling that a candidate who didn't do much mapping recently will have maybe a little more to prove to me (perhaps on some subconscious level) to earn my vote. Rightly or wrongly.

So I sit on the fence on this issue. I'm a little bit preoccupied by mapping contribution :-)


----- Original Message -----
From: Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org>
To: "osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org" <osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org>
Sent: Saturday, 28 November 2015, 11:30
Subject: [Osmf-talk] Street Cred - required for a board position?


   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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