[OSM-talk] OSM community organisation and decision-making process
tom at acrewoods.net
Sun Jul 1 23:21:47 BST 2007
On Sunday 01 July 2007 22:43:54 Steve Coast wrote:
> In the structure of scientific revolutions kuhn shattered the notion
> that scientific discovery and progress was a smooth process.
He also demonstrated that he didn't have a very good understanding of the
history of science, and mistakenly emphasised the theory of paradigms, but
that's an argument for another day ;-) I think your parallel is pretty much
spot on - OSM proceeds in fits and starts.
> 1) Announce some vague questions (When shall we have a mapping party?
> How shall we raise money?)
> 2) Wait for some equally vague and diverse answers (yes! no! july!
> 3) Nothing happens, or things don't reach their full potential.
There are lots of explanations for this, some of which you cover well. Another
that you pass over is structurelessness - if (god forbid) OSM was a
membership-based organisation with clearly defined rights and duties, where
only members could map, then this wouldn't happen. Those questions would go
through due process, and structures would channel people into effectively
responding rather than leaving it for the next person to do (so that
everybody passes the buck and nobody responds).
It's like the wiki process for map features. Unless somebody (Alex Mauer)
kicks everyone into commenting and voting, the lack of any structure makes it
an ineffective process.
> Apart from the fact that it doesn't work very well, it's not
> inherently wrong. It's how communities are often thought about in
> open source. But if you look about at other organisations with 8,000
> people like army units, schools, businesses, associations... they're
> all command and control.
Not really, there are lots of other interesting ways to organise large social
units, from workers' co-operatives to town/city/regional/national
governments, and even schools :) It's a question of structures and the values
Most large free software projects have been sensible enough to develop some
basic governance structures to handle matters like trademarks, finances,
event coordination and important technical decisions. We're relying on the
fantastic dedication of people like Steve & Etienne (to pick two people
already mentioned in this thread). Top-down bureaucracy won't help anyone,
but OSM's structurelessness that prevails *won't* scale.
| Green Party Speaker on Intellectual Property and Free Software |
| http://tom.acrewoods.net :: http://www.greenparty.org.uk |
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