Ben Gimpert ben at somethingmodern.com
Fri Mar 31 10:43:14 BST 2006

On Fri, Mar 31, 2006 at 06:06:23AM +0200, Lars Aronsson wrote:
> As for the comment (by someone else) that everything is fine now, 
> I disagree.  Without having met you, Steve, I estimate that your 
> genius is 80% technical innovator and 20% organizer.  For the best 
> of OSM, others should take care of the administration and you 
> should be allowed to keep your mind on the technical, visionary, 
> and innovative parts.

[snipped mostly irrelevant stuff about Jimbo]

If I'm the "someone else" to whom you refer, I don't think I ever meant
to imply that everything is fine now.  No, OSM is in desperate need of
motivation for unsexy development work and secondly, need of better
server hardware.  Steve and to a lesser extend Mikel and Imi and Nick,
seem to be the only people writing code right now, and I am personally
reticent to hand over money and the implied authority, especially when
its authority in-the-name-of OSM, to people who have not cut their teeth
writing code for OSM.

The comparisons to Wikipedia and Jimbo seem completely irrelevant.  This
is especially true at this point when I feel OSM should stay damn-near
100% focused on technical issues like development and hosting.  Yes, OSM
aims to be the "wikipedia of maps," but we know that's mostly marketing.
The model is completely different: we have different grassroots content
acquisition (GPS data tracks vs. pseudo-authorities wanking about their
favorite subjects), different interface (pretty maps vs. encyclopedic
text), different constituencies (smart and picky GIS community vs. kids
writing research papers), etc.

Again let me make it abundantly clear as the first person to publicly
commit to donating to OSMF:  I will not give a pence if the authority of
the foundation's decision-making is shared with anyone who does not help
write code or maintain servers.

At risk of sounding overly harsh let me justify me stubbornness.  My
friendship with the founders and lurking on these lists for a long while
has demonstrated a woeful tendency for the OSM community to get mired in
debates about shit that just doesn't matter.  For instance, I refer to
the recurring "schema" threads trying to define a non-grassroots data
standard independent of writing code, and some of the pie-in-the-sky
feature complaints.  I might run home crying if my money turned out to
indirectly support these debates -- though I very much wish to
monetarily commit to OSM having more implemented, tested and real
features and servers.

> OSM is a fine project now and in the next 2 or 3 years.  But where 
> is it 5 or 10 years from now?

We have to keep in mind the goals of the OSMF.  As I understand it, the
main goal is to have a more transparent means of giving money to support
OSM as a project.  Only in a secondary sense should the OSMF be worried
about publicity and lobbying.  In five to ten years, I recommend the
OSMF be scrapped and reborn as a bigger, potentially democratic

> Is the idea durable enough for a long-lasting organization?  Or should
> we widen the scope or join more people to get a broader,
> longer-lasting platform?  What other groups, e.g. Linux users grops,
> are there in London?  Is there a British Wikipedia chapter yet?
> Judging from http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_UK it almost
> seems so.  Does anybody here have any connection to these people?

I feel the complexity and implied idle-ness of yet another umbrella Free
Open Source Geospatial Wiki Server Map Making Foundation of Associations
of Europe (FOSGWSMMFAE) is the wrong course.  Let's keep it simple --
what is the absolute minimum infrastructre that allows people to
confidently donate money to OSM (must be transparent), and in a
secondary sense what enables a centralized effort for early publicity
and lobbying (must have a central party line).


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