[OSM-talk] Anyone who likes to organize an ID discussion panel at SotM?

Christoph Hormann osm at imagico.de
Wed May 29 17:33:41 UTC 2019

On Wednesday 29 May 2019, Christine Karch wrote:
> reading the discussions about the direction of ID development and how
> the community wants the ID at the OSM website I had the idea that
> there could perhaps be a panel at SotM. Does anyone want to organize
> an ID discussion panel at SotM? Please tell me or us (program
> committee in CC) and we can consider it. At the moment it would be
> sufficient to have someone (or more) who wants to organize it. All
> details could be defined later.

I think this is a good idea but it should be done based on the 
realization that however such panel is composed and no matter what 
specific questions it covers it will not be representative for the OSM 
community as a whole - if for no other reason than because it is being 
held in English language at a conference with a significant economic 
barrier of entry.

Underneath the specific issues with iD development that are being 
discussed right now lies a broader problem of ideas of cultural 
exceptionalism (that is the opinion that certain cultural values and 
preferences are inherently more significant than others and don't have 
to defend themselves in an open discourse) are increasingly pursued and 
advocated in and around the OSM community.  You can find this for 
example in Bryan Housels statements here and on the iD issue tracker 
engrossing a huge number of people here as "mailing list haters" - an 
attitude that is mirrored by quite a few other people including OSMF 
board members who have also made demeaning statements about using 
maining lists as communication channels.  This is to some extent 
understandable when people are overwhelmed with the diversity in views 
and positions as well as communication styles of a cross cultural 
international community like OSM and the difficulties of gauging 
opinions and developing consensus in such an environment.  This is even 
harder if you are professionally involved in the field and you get 
pressure from employers or business partners of course.  To retreat 
into a smaller and culturally more homogeneous community where it is 
much easier to find a consensus and possibly even developing a binary 
friend/ally vs. enemies image of the OSM community is to some extent a 
natural reaction.

Because these reactions will as explained inevitably happen when people 
are overwhelmed by the cultural diversity of OSM and the difficulties 
this creates in practical work what we really need to discuss is how we 
can cultivate and communicate the specific core ideas and values of the 
OpenStreetMap project (the idea that people from all over the world 
freely and without being steered by a central authority collect their 
local geographic knowledge into a database for the benefit of each 
other) and help people realize the immense value of this to help bridge 
the gaps between these cultural bubbles created by people in reaction 
to the challenges of the project.  

I think most individuals active in the OSM community as a hobby are 
aware of the immense value of the cultural diversity of OSM or at least 
are able to understand it and openly embrance the challenges this comes 
with.  The bigger challenge seems to be the organizational cultures of 
corporations and organizations around OSM which are often much more 
centralized and based on an exceptionalist principle.

Christoph Hormann

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