[Talk-in] OpenStreetMap workshops

Kiran Jonnalagadda jace at pobox.com
Sat Oct 3 18:55:01 BST 2009

On Sat, Oct 3, 2009 at 7:56 PM, Kenneth Gonsalves <lawgon at au-kbc.org> wrote:

> I am talking about
> sustainability - I have had decades of experience in dealing with this
> issue,
> and believe me, any movement not dependent on self generated funds lasts
> exactly as long as the funds last.

Thank you, Kenneth. I'm glad we agree 100% on this matter and I'm sorry I
did not make this much clearer in the proposal. We could have saved on the
mutual assumption of idiocy if you had stated this up front.

I appreciate what you mean by having events self funded. However, while
there does appear to be a poor correlation between sustainability and
external funding, correlation is not causation. As far as I can tell,
sustainability is an emergent property of internal accountability. This can
be disrupted by external funding because accountability can shift to the
funding source, but there are also numerous examples of how to do this

Second, the meaning of sustainability is variable depending on what is being
sustained. You no doubt understand this very well already, but I'm
elaborating for clarity:

In nature, where resources are limited, sustainability is about achieving a
ratio between what is consumed and what is recycled. In software and data
however, there is no theoretical upper limit to how much code or data can
exist. Sustainability is not making a map over and over again the way it is
about growing a crop or a forest back each year. Every node we add to the
map and every workshop we conduct builds on the previous. It's never the
same as the last time. The sustenance is in the act of doing it, not in the
manner of how it is done.

We were fortunate to have Schuyler and Mikel's presence for the Feb 2008
workshops. Their presence was a significant draw. Arun has acknowledged that
it was the Feb 2008 Bangalore workshop that got him started on OSM. Their
absence since has not impeded him from doing any of the things he has, nor
has it been a problem for anyone else organising a workshop. Funding for
another series of workshops will build on existing work and will create a
layer for future work. It need have no influence on the ability to run a
future workshop.

My goal in doing any of this is to expand the critical mass of mappers,
because the more we have, the greater their economic significance as a
collective, and thereby the easier it will get to raise internal funding.
You seem to indicate we have enough of a critical mass to be able to run
workshops without external funding. This is great, and we ought to be doing
those workshops then. I just see no reason to be satisfied with any
definition of enough. External funding can always help to expand the

I'm happy to have your thoughts on this.


PS: Harshad, just saw your message. Hope this clarifies things for you.
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