[Osmf-talk] Our governance and our identity

Mikel Maron mikel.maron at gmail.com
Wed Dec 12 22:15:53 UTC 2018

I think we are seeing a lot of weaknesses in our governance structure, and we should think bigger about changes.
Currently and in all its history, no one on the Board represents any constituency. We are individuals with many experiences. OSM is a global project with many different factors by design. From the very beginning in 2004, it was about both hobbyists and professionals and artists and more, anyone with the passion for an open map. The notion that the core of OSM is one subset of that passion is a much more recent invention. So, the more perspectives and experiences an individual board member can bring, the better our decision making.
Now I love the HOT community and think the organization does a lot of good work for OSM, but that’s only a part of my identity — I’m also a craft mapper who biked every road in his town with GPS, an open source developer who set up the original website w slippy map and tilserver, I’ve helped people start to map on 5 continents in really tricky circumstances. I’ve worked with OSM in government roles and in roles at Mapbox. 
I don’t accept anyone limiting my identity. Categorizing people in OSM as one thing or another does our project a disservice. Saying it ultimately belongs to one type of person or another is sad. What matters is that we are all here because of our passion for the map and to comtribute to the amazing change OSM has had on the world for nearly 15 years. Bridge the map.
As we’ve grown, we may need more structure to board composition. However I don’t think the proposed idea of 1 person max per org will have an impact on that need, or be workable. We’ve only ever really been in that situation when we had two people from cloudmade on the Board way back. The HOT example does not apply — being a Voting Member is the same as being an OSMF member in terms of governance role. 
I’m encouraged by the growth of official local chapters. I think these bodies have the best chance of bringing together the 1000s of perspectives in OSM into a somewhat cohesive and stable whole.
It’s worth thinking about a board where local chapters have representation in some seats; where members have some; and some are reserved for appointment for needed board skills and continuity. There’s some elements of this in Wikimedia to consider.
Or other ideas. Let’s think bigger and openly in 2019 about what kind of OSMF will serve us best. And work to tell a story about ourselves with encompasses all the complexity of this crazy project.

On Wednesday, December 12, 2018, 3:55 PM, Tobias Knerr <osm at tobias-knerr.de> wrote:

On 12.12.2018 00:5 Nicolas chavent wrote:
> Tobias Knerr proposed in his manifesto to "Limit board members from
> the same org to 1 seat", since this manifesto item has not yet been
> picked up in the Questions/Answers section of the Board Elections wiki
> nor in the discussions, it would be great to hear about it from the
> other candidates and members.

Thanks for your support! I would also be interested in the opinions of
other candidates about this idea, as improving the representation of
unaffiliated volunteers on the board is an issue I strongly care about,
and I believe my proposed change could be an important step in that

Because your mail links this situation to a specific criticism of HOT,
however, I would like to emphasize the following, as I've already done
in my manifesto: I do not believe that any members of our community are
acting in bad faith. Nor is this about members of HOT, or any other
group, being instructed or obligated to act in a particular manner. None
of that is required to care about the composition of the board, though.
It's sufficient to recognize that our perspectives on OSM are inevitably
shaped by our background, and if many or most board members see OSM at
least partially through the lens of a particular organization or sector
(such as humanitarian work), this is bound to have a tangible effect on
the foundation's direction.

OSM enjoys a thriving ecosystem today, with thousands of organizations
making valuable contributions – large or small – to our project. In
light of that, I believe that no single organization is so important to
OSM on its own that it makes sense for its members to hold a majority,
or even a sizeable minority, of the seats on the board. That's my
motivation for making this suggestion. Having no more than one board
member from the same org doesn't mean that the board is balanced, as
Christoph and Simon rightly point out. But having several members of the
same third party serving on the board is a clear sign that it is not. As
such, I feel this would be a minimum standard for organizational
diversity on the board that most members of our community should be able
to agree with, which may not be the case for more far-reaching restrictions.

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