[Osmf-talk] What if....

Allan Mustard allan at mustard.net
Thu Dec 21 02:32:42 UTC 2017

Seasons greetings to all:  Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy
Kwanzaa, and belated wishes for a joyous celebration of the Prophet's

I, too, have refrained from interceding until now.  Perhaps, however, it
is time for a professional diplomat (ahem, cough cough) to step in
(harrumph).  A few comments, and then I will get back to mapping the
country in which I work when my day job does not consume me. Please give
me a minute first to remove my tuxedo and top hat, and to put on my old
firefighter's Nomex bunker coat and pants from the Ballston Volunteer
Fire Department, and to lower the polycarbonate face shield on my
fireproof helmet before you read farther.

1.  It seems odd to me that a cartographic society (OSM) and its core
group (OSMF) are being redirected to social engineering.  May I naively
ask when that became OSM's mandate? 

    Opinion: A code of conduct is certainly a good idea, but it should
    not be so long that nobody reads it, so convoluted that few
    understand it, or so prescriptive that it drives people away.  It
    might just boil down to a few simple sentences: "Be courteous to
    fellow mappers.  Disagree and state your opinions politely.  Use
    facts, not emotions, when debating an issue.  Refrain from invective
    or name-calling.  Correct errors politely and offer help to
    newcomers to OSM.  Racism, sexism, and generally bad behavior that
    risk driving away volunteer mappers are not permitted and will be
    sanctioned."  Period.  Did I leave out anything really crucial?

2. Why is the rhetoric of these threads so overheated?  Over my 30+
years as a diplomat I have worked and lived in two totalitarian
dictatorships (USSR and Turkmenistan), an authoritarian regime
(President Putin's Russia), and a grab bag of sexist and racist
societies.  Any alleged discrimination within the OSM world pales by
comparison.  I do not perceive a huge problem here, particularly when
compared to the scope and scale of such problems globally.

    Side note: To illustrate, the Russian language includes the term
    "sekretutka", a portmanteau of the Russian words for "secretary"
    (sekretarsha) and "prostitute" (prostitutka), i.e., a secretary
    hired by a sexist male boss for purposes of both administrative
    support and sexual services. These exist and in fact there is an
    employment agency that recruits such employees for executives. 
    Twenty years ago in Bosnia, I initiated microcredit programs to fund
    startups by war widows who had been raped by Serbian nationalists
    after their husbands and sons older than 16 had been systematically
    murdered as part of ethnic cleansing.  OSM's "problems" simply don't
    hold a candle to these examples.  Incidentally, one reason the U.S.
    embassies and consulates are considered desirable places to work by
    local employees (particularly females and local ethnic minorities)
    is our enforcement of a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual
    harassment and racial and gender discrimination.  Say what you will
    about the United States, wish us lingering, painful death, even, but
    any such harassment or discrimination is illegal in the United
    States, and of late has been punished even in such hallowed and
    previously untouchable venues as Hollywood and the U.S. Congress
    (several members of which have resigned in the last couple of months
    over allegations of harassment; I assume you are following that news
    story in the online U.S. mass media).

3. Diversity is to be encouraged as it inherently strengthens
organizations, but the fact remains that OSM is a digital technology
platform and as such will tend to attract, forgive me the expression,
computer nerds (yes, I am one and freely admit it).  This subculture is
predominantly male (for whatever reason--pick yours and then go to work
to counter it by recruiting females).  Geographically, the OSM volunteer
pool will also be biased toward those countries with easy and cheap
Internet access--draw your own conclusions as to why.

    Side note: In that regard, making an easier editor (ID) available
    rather than JOSM or Potlatch is probably a bigger boost to diversity
    than anything else OSM does, simply because you don't have to be a
    tech wizard to master ID (Hey! Quit sneering at me for using ID,
    doggone it!)  As for regional diversity, recruiting volunteers in
    the developing world will always be a challenge due to the simple
    fact that in the developing world people have less leisure time to
    devote to a voluntary, unpaid pastime like OSM mapping than do
    populations in the developed world (I've lived and worked in
    third-world countries enough to know this from experience), so the
    pool of available recruits will tend to be proportionately smaller. 
    This is not something to be snarky about.  We just need to focus
    some effort on outreach to recruit the people out there who DO have
    some leisure time to devote and, in addition, can afford internet
    access in countries where the internet is expensive and not a cheap
    common utility.

    OSM as a voluntary effort cannot mandate diversity the way the U.S.
    government has in its salaried workforce.  That is simply a fact of
    life for voluntary associations--we don't pick them, they pick us. 
    We can recruit (believe me, I'm trying, just as over the past 30
    years I have recruited minorities and females to work for the
    Foreign Agricultural Service of USDA), but the pool of interested
    parties appears to be inherently biased as described above.  We have
    to live with that, work to overcome it, recognizing that it is not a
    problem that can be solved 100% but is rather a chronic disease to
    be ameliorated to the extent possible.  This is not something to
    fight over, or to exchange fiery posts over.  Enough
    finger-pointing!  (And before anybody counterattacks, please be
    aware that the embassy I run actively promotes women in STEM here in
    Turkmenistan, among other things).

I will stop here to wish one and all a joyous holiday season and every
success in 2018 and beyond.  I will continue to map Turkmenistan until
the end of my tour of duty here sometime next year, but hope the
overheated exchanges will cool down a bit.  With your permission, and if
you'll put down that flamethrower, I'll change out of my Nomex outerwear
and put the tux and top hat back on.

Allan Mustard

On 12/21/2017 4:20 AM, Tyler Radford wrote:
> Wishing all in the OSM community a happy holiday/end of year period
> and peaceful beginning to 2018.
> Best
> Tyler
> On Tue, Dec 19, 2017 at 10:10 AM, Jo Walsh <metazool at fastmail.net
> <mailto:metazool at fastmail.net>> wrote:
>     Hello all, 
>     On Tue, Dec 19, 2017, at 12:22 PM, Heather Leson wrote:
>>     What if we took pause to consider how we might move forward? 
>>     Before posting solutions, maybe take some time. 
>     I like this suggestion a lot. Last weekend I resubscribed to OSMF
>     and to this list, and read lots of backstory. This was prompted by
>     the recent angst spilling out into parts of my Twitter feed that
>     aren't OSM centric. I would like to help - to cut through the meta
>     discussion about conduct codes with some concrete proposals - to
>     volunteer to be part of any conflict resolution group that may form. 
>     I've held back posting to this list as yet because of the
>     back-and-forth, reactive nature of the threads. Waiting until the
>     holidays start and I have some relief from work and childcare, to
>     put on my flame-proof suit and barge in. I anticipated turning up
>     at a family holiday gathering only to disappear into the attic and
>     have internet arguments for several days. But this way would be
>     even better. 
>     Cheers,
>     Jo aka zool
>     _______________________________________________
>     osmf-talk mailing list
>     osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org <mailto:osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org>
>     https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/osmf-talk
>     <https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/osmf-talk>
> _______________________________________________
> osmf-talk mailing list
> osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/osmf-talk

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/osmf-talk/attachments/20171221/8a7d986f/attachment.html>

More information about the osmf-talk mailing list