[OSGeo-Board] Some whining from the outside

Jo Walsh jo at frot.org
Sat Aug 12 13:46:13 PDT 2006

dear mpg, thanks for airing concerns! Here's some more responses.

On Fri, Aug 11, 2006 at 04:19:22PM -0700, Gary Lang wrote:
> - What is the status of getting an Executive Director?  Several weeks
> ago at the F2F some consensus was reached, and some candidate names were
> mentioned, but we have not seen any action on this.
> GL> Based on the F2F meeting and budget we came up with, as per the
> above, I went and got that money approved. Now the board is revisiting
> this decision. I would like to move forward so that we could support the
> projects. 

There has been a *lot* of discussion about this over the last week on
the board-priv list. This discussion has been mostly in an un-archived
forum because a/ it has mentioned possible candidates, and 'naming names'
where Google can easily find them may damage peoples' existing careers,
b/ it has concerned sums of money whose existence is provisional, not
definite. (For this latter reason FunCom has also asked if it can
maintain a private list for 'sensitive' discussions if they need held)

A lot of the ED revisit-discussion has not touched on these topics. But 
once a discussion begins on a thread, it tends to stay there despite 'topic
drift'. When one is reading/sending messages to explicitly private forum 
it becomes unethical to rearchive publically anything that one has not
written oneself and got explicit permission from others in the discussion.

I dropped some of my own initial feedback on the wiki page you saw mpg,
http://wiki.osgeo.org/index.php/Talk:Executive_Director . And a lot of
this is just request-for-feedback about stuff that i personally have
no experience with; i have never been on the board of a nonprofit
foundation before. (Well, technically OKFN, but that has been a very
low-key organic-growth effort, i have no involvement in its finances.)

I agree with Markus that a lot of work needs to be done on extending
and adapting http://wiki.osgeo.org/index.php/Executive_Director 
which was extrapolated from the discussion at the F2F and definitely
is incomplete, lacking in appropriate detail, unreflective of priorities.

> - What is the status of doing a binary stack?  Again, this was discussed
> at the F2F but I'm not sure what action has been taken.

A project like this needs marshalling and monitoring. It's not within the
remit of any of the committees. There is "ideal budget" for it but no
definite plan as to where the budget comes from. In order to fundraise
for it, there ought to be a more detailed implementation plan - who
will do the work, on what basis they will be supported, what hardware
and hard media may be needed, how communication is going to be managed.

I don't know of any action that has been taken towards realising this. 

> - What is the process for approving a move to the new Drupal-based site
> Jo and Tyler are working on?  It appears to be the right move, and
> people are putting time and effort into it as we speak, but I'm not sure
> this has been "blessed" yet.  What needs to be done?

is a recent status update i wrote for WebCom about this. In short,
what started as a 'thought experiment' quickly gained momentum of its own.
I'm really happy with the kind of feedback we've got from IRC. Before
we can really set this out in front of the community - get people
using it for a while as community.osgeo.org so we can be sure it
really is working for those who need it to be right (partic. WebCom,
VisCom and FunCom) - it needs a design overhaul. I want to talk more
about this in response to the Infrastructure thread. 
> - It appears that the board only posts minutes to the Wiki, but no real
> summary of what is transpiring (not everyone reads the Wiki updates or
> watches IRC or subscribes to the board list, for example)  This gives
> the appearance of either inactivity or behind-the-curtain activity,
> neither of which are desirable.

I'd refer to both Tyler's points about process / delegation, and
Markus's about communication - not only from the Board but also from
the committees - and i hope that the community.osgeo.org site will
provide an easy means to collect updates in one place and make this
process easier, and work out as an alternative to www.osgeo.org of now.

I am a very, very IRC oriented person. I know a lot gets talked over
there that doesn't easily find its way back into other channels,
that reading IRC logs after the fact is a very different experience
from being in a realtime conversation there. http://usefulinc.com/chump/ 
is a bot that might help this - allow us to make annotations about
important topics and URLs from IRC that can be easily sucked into an RSS
aggregator/website and obviate the need to 'always be there'. I'll set one up.

> - Did we ever formally announce when the next board will be elected?  At
> least one person has (privately) suggested the current board is not
> optimal anymore.

:O *weep* ;P

At Chicago it was suggested that the initial Board term, after the
Interim Board was selected at the end of March, would be until
September. At the F2F there was a consensus that having yet another
election in September would generate an awful lot of heat and not much
light, and that the next round should be held in March. No, i don't
think a formal announcement of this was ever made :/ It is probably
really important to update the governance docs to reflect this. I
would hate for anyone to think that the Board was acting undemocratically. 
Feeling grateful for the reality check which you are providing here. 

> - What is the role of Lisa L? 

> GL> Lisa L is a contractor to help Autodesk with MapGuide. I myself just
> heard of her and met her at OSCON. I think we had role confusion there.
> She has been realigned with her role within Autodesk. Hey, it's a big
> company.

This *is* a shame - she gave out really good vibes and had some very
sane things to say about nonprofit foundation management. I hope that
the realignment works out well for her and that she gets into a position
where she can prove her chops within Autodesk and gain more time for us. 

thanks all, 


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