[Board] Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Thoughts on standing down from the Board of OSGeo
maplabs at light42.com
Fri Sep 11 09:01:13 PDT 2009
recently, here in the United States, I had proposed to the Board of
OSGeo a project .. That proposal pushes OSGeo out of its "comfort zone"
I think, and calls for some thinking about what OSGeo might look like
in five years..
The vast majority of non-profit organizations are unfunded. They are
purpose driven, may have important assets or place in a vital decision
making process, but, no employees, no offices, no "market activity" in
I'll briefly mention two things, but I think this might be the right
time to talk about it a bit - the downside of a pure volunteer
organization, and creating capacity ...
Volunteers are a great feeling when it works ! but it doesnt always
work.. and, as we discussed in detail at the Wiki Conference in
Portland with Ward Cunningham, inventor of the Wiki, there are
somethings that will *never happen* with volunteers, even if they are
really needed! Because some things are just not interesting enough,
easy enough, need additional resources, and a long list of other
criteria yet to be discovered...
Creating capacity is hard to think about, yet absolutely real when it
happens. I will avoid the example that I am not part of, Sports, and
instead bring an example that I am closer to, Medicine. You may have
heard Arnulf say that he discovered that the National Hockey League is
a non-profit. I dont know about "sports economics", but I know enough
that there would not be a team branded shirt for every 7th grade boy
that wants one, or a place strong enough to hold 10,000 screaming adult
men safely, without capacity..
I will talk about a hospital.. Many hospitals world wide are founded
by religious or other public service organizations, who see the
absolute need for providing quality medical care. Basics, like when
someone is in urgent need of care, there is some else with training and
materials, in a clean safe place, who is ready. And, since there are a
lot of people, those places have to be very large. And, since the very
best medicine involves very special and expensive tools and supplies,
there has to be the ability to get them, etc.. This is capacity.. not
an idea of health in the abstract, but the real ability to execute
something in the real world..
Many on this list will know about the software movement called Open
Source.. far larger than just RMS and GNU, I have done some reading
about it. Books like "The Success of Open Source" by Steven Weber, and
"Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software" MIT Press do some
justice to this large and growing topic. Here in California we have
OSCon, a commercial convention, started as the Perl Conference, where
this year, OSGeo presented as an OSS org for the first time.
I present to the Board of OSGeo that there are opportunities to build
capacity, and to have an organization that is not only a volunteer
organization. It is up to the Board to decide if that is where OSGeo
wants to go, and how.. As technical practitioners, there is sometimes a
tendency to look at the work. I suggest that there is also an
organizational opportunity to look at, and that is part of the role of
an OSGeo Board member, too.
best regards from Berkeley, California
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