[Board] Thoughts on standing down from the Board of OSGeo

Jo Walsh jo at frot.org
Thu Sep 10 13:47:54 PDT 2009

dear all,

I have been meaning for ages to write a long reflective mail on
standing down from the board of OSGeo, but realise if I don't write
something short I'm in danger of writing nothing at all.

The role I have filled on OSGeo's Board has been an amazing learning
experience for me. I have felt honoured to be in a representative
position for such a large and powerful community.

FOSS4G is reaching a real maturity; I have seen a conservative ops
manager decide that this year it's safe to migrate the big systems to
PostGIS, and rebuild the interface with OpenLayers. OSGeo can work on
turning the most recent wave of adopters into advocates and
supporters. There is more work to be done for documentation and
packaging than there is for code, now. There is a lot to be done in
education, convincing people that free software is fine for
coursework, that skills transfer.

OSGeo has quite a unique structure now, with the flourishing of local
user groups and the solid, ASF-like core of projects. Decision-making
is delegated so comprehensively that a lot of the Board business is
rubber-stamping. Correspondingly it's been quite an activist Board
with at least a couple of members on each committee; rather than a
hands-free advisory style Board attempting to set "strategic"

The question of how does OSGeo Foundation support itself financially
has always recurred at Board meetings. This year due to the general
cuts in sponsorship and marketing budgets we have had a significant
financial shortfall, and next year may be little better. After that,
though, the "market" potentially there for open source geographic
applications will have grown, and OSGeo will be a great store of

How can we change OSGeo to sustain its running costs - whether we try
to generate more income from the conference (restricting where it can
be held), or we partner to run workshops commercially, or do some
consultancy work (and on what terms), or seek more or bigger sponsors
(which has proved precarious) - this is my biggest question to the
next Board.

Recently I've not been as engaged with OSGeo as I would like and don't
really feel that I am representative now; so I won't re-stand this
year in the Board elections. I am grateful to have had this concern
for three years, and will try to stay involved through OSGeo-Scotland,
OSGeo-UK, and ongoing effort towards open geodata.

be well!


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