OSGeo scale and speed and sponsorship

Jo Walsh jo at frot.org
Fri Aug 4 16:55:19 PDT 2006

dear Arnulf, 

I wanted to ramble at you about the possible impact of expansion on OSGeo. 

I think the Foundation has the potential to do more good if it has more 
people/funds to do it, in a way that is of exponential benefit to projects,
members, everyone. Like recently the Mellon Foundation people were all
over OSGeo at OSCON about their development fund http://rit.mellon.org/criteria

Now this is the sort of fund that I reckon would provide 50-100K for
development of educational resources, data repackaging and
distribution tools. It's the sort of scene where one can't ask for
materially less, where smaller amounts of money are harder to spend.

I'd love to submit some application to this to develop services around
this simple metadata archive / crawler / API project that people have
been thrashing over on the geodata list. I see a clear need and useful
free software in it. But on a personal basis I don't have the resource
/ togetherness to start writing big grant applications with milestones
etc. I think a fund like this would also support the production of
educational literature - in the way Soros' OSI sponsored the 'Wireless
Networking in the Developing World' book - http://wndw.net/ 

Now maybe OSGeo isn't the right vector to be doing this sort of thing
through. Then where is? There is a world of "venture philanthropy"
which can be accessible outside of the traditional conduits of
corporations and academic institutions. OSGeo is in a good position to
take advantage of that - very worthy, stable-feeling, strong
application to civic and conservation processes. Some people have 
volunteered to help out with grantwriting for this type of project. 
Without encouragement / a plan though, they won't be able to engage.

Right now I would love to concentrate more time on the geodata group
and be writing software to support it - good ideas there which would 
benefit so much from a 'push' - to just know that the CMS/eventual list
and code repos. migration was being taken care of by someone who was
enjoying it a bit. I suspect Frank would rather be focusing on getting
more projects - including his own - out of the incubator and opening
the process to new projects who could create future benefit and add to
the group mind - rather than fiddling with news administration. 

Between all of us we wind up 'plugging the gaps'; all on too many mailing
lists and undergoing a lot of communications redundancy. I hope a new
set of tools - which that drupal thing is gesturing towards - can help
open up the activities of each committee/group to each other and to the
world a bit better - make member maps encourage local meetups etc -
but the tech can't do everything - there is so much difference that
having a remunerated / dedicated person could make to OSGeo activities.

be well, 


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