[Osmf-talk] Orwell was right (was: Candidacy: OSMF Board)

Jean-Guilhem Cailton jgc at arkemie.org
Thu Dec 7 22:01:46 UTC 2017

Dear OSMF Members,

I hope that you are able to form your own judgments independently, and
not follow what could seem to be the dominant message, at least by the
strength of the media and of the position of those who relay it.

You have been informed of disturbing facts, about the concerted actions
of a small group of people, who have a dominating influence over HOT US
Inc, and possibly over OSMF, as one of them is a candidate to the
on-going election.

If these facts were not true, it should have been easy to prove it.
Instead, as you may have noticed, there has been no answer on the facts
themselves, but very strongly worded personal attacks against those who
reported them, intended to discredit them. And no answers either when
some of the witnesses of these ad hominem attacks asked what they were
based on.

What is really disturbing here is that these things did happen.

It is probably difficult to believe the things that others and i
reported here, as i couldn’t myself have believed that the things that
were happening could take place in the context of OSM. Yet they did. And
the scandal is not to report them, but that they happened. And that the
persons responsible for them have a growing influence within OSM Community.

The real issue is the Moon, not the fingers pointing at it, more or less

Yet there has been a large volume of discussion about CoCs. I can
understand that some may see some interest in them in certain contexts.
But please be aware that in the context of HOT US the CoC has been used
as a tool for censorship and abuse, by a dominating group who is still
very present in this discussion.

Blake, informing you that your actions could be considered as violation
of laws (including those against moral harassment) was not harassment.
And returning the accusations of harassment against those who complain
about it is a classical tactic of real harassers.

(And for those who don’t know me, i care for OSM as a volunteer. Not as
someone who earns his living in connection with OSM, and who may
obviously have a stronger motivation to defend this connection.)

What i remember specially strongly from one of these conversation with
you Blake was when you explained to me, explicitly referring to “1984”
by George Orwell, that things were going to end up badly for me. And
indeed, they did end much worse than i could have imagined. (Maybe
because i hadn’t yet read the novel to the end at the time – Or because
i felt it was “only” a novel).

But in fact i find it very illuminating to understand the world we live
in, in general, and the actions and communications of this small group
to which you belong in particular.

“History” gets rewritten, depending on the interests of the people in
power. (Or of those requesting grants, as in the example reported by
Séverin about the initial mapping for Ebola response).

Facts get ignored, or despised, along with those who report them.

The same person who once explained the wonders accomplished by the
self-organizing OSM mappers (right after the response to Haiti
earthquake), now explains with the same conviction that amateurs need to
be led by professional to do anything worthwhile. (Professional among
whom he is now, but this is of course only an irrelevant coincidence).

Mikel has had for a long time, indeed, this vision of OSM as a
“Mechanical Turk”, except than in Amazon version, people get paid, even
if not much, for their directed work. Not so in OSM, where those who
aren’t happy with this vision are free to leave. (So this version of
free labor can still be considered much better than slavery). “— Mappers
are expendable”.

So is it really surprising that there are now well established quality
problems with the data produced by the beginners that HOT US Inc manages
to mobilize? Who consciously wants to work for free, for “leaders” who
abuse entrusted power for private gain?

This is an obvious reason why HOT US is missing experienced mappers and
coordinators, after throwing away the experienced volunteers who had
successfully coordinated the activations for years. Respect is something
all human beings need, not just hypocritical nice words.

And this is the model you (as voters) are asked to believe is also good
for OSM in general. By the same person who enforced it in HOT US Inc… I
really hope that a majority of OSMF voters is able to see through the
good sounding, but misleading, discourse from this group.

There is a sample of that discourse that hopefully many of you can
relate and compare to your own experience, and thus you can check its
validity by yourself. It’s the story told by Blake, that in his eyes it
would be unsafe to suggest people (especially women) to attend a small
regular OSM meetup in his city. I was quite intrigued by this, as others
who have reacted too, as my experience in meeting OSM volunteers in real
life is that they are in general very nice people. (Emails might not
always reflect that, because of the nature of electronic and
intercultural communications). And then, if admitting that these people
could be more of a threat to women than the average citizen of the
place, the problem would be magically solved by a CoC… I have been
unsuccessfully trying to imagine in which part of Earth a situation so
remote from those I know could happen (†).

(†) for the curious, a quick web search shows that this city might be
(possibly in a parallel Orwellian universe to the one where i think i am

So here is a suggestion for those who haven’t voted yet and who don’t
know for who to vote, and who have read “1984”: if you feel that your
sympathy goes to O’Brien, and the efficient and well led society he
actively promotes, (especially if his methods could be softer, as made
possible by the advances since 1948, when the novel was written), vote
for Heather. Otherwise, don’t.

Best wishes,


P.S. : I remember a previous message of mine that was called a “screed”
(by Mikel), several years ago, on the hot list. In it, i had written in
particular that it didn’t seem ok that the Executive Director, who
received a salary from HOT US Inc, was also on the Board. That view was
later expressed by someone more important than me, and Kate resigned
from the Board, where she was replaced by her friend Heather…

“Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.”
Transparency International
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