[Board] more on organisational cross-subsidy

Jo Walsh jo at frot.org
Sun Sep 12 04:32:01 PDT 2010

dear all,

To talk more about organisational cross-subsidy. Easiest is to give an 
example of what would be a fantasy scenario for me:

EDINA could find a way to contribute, in a set and short timescale, a 
day a week of my time to work on organising data and education outreach 
for OSGeo, setting up communications and finding people to get involved.
OSGeo could dedicate a day a week of Tyler's time to working on 
OGC-OSGeo relations and communications strategy. And OGC could 
contribute a day of Athina's time to working with OSGeo on open 
government liaison, and Raj's to working with OSGeo and EDINA on FOSS4G 
in research and education.

Consider the model of the gvSIG association where one has a group of 
protective companies around the project. Prodevelop are committing half 
of Amelia's time to coordinating the gvSIG association.

Genis Roca talked about this sort of thing at the last Jornadas SIG 
http://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/osmf-talk/2010-April/000850.html using 
a word "rentability" for which there is no real English-language 

On OKF's fun organisational problems; for detail on the work, see the 
mail included below (know a hotshot Python programmer with free hands?).
So the foundation has gone from a budget of a few grand a year for 
hosting and the conference, to a surplus as big as OSGeo ever had, in 
less than a year. The founders are responsible for a lot of detail and 
it can be hard to step back and get perspective, to watch the players at 
play, as Ivan put it.

So a lot of the board want to hire an ED, i have been resisting because 
it seems as if the role is to be dumped on; to do pick-up project 
management (one difference is that the Foundation is taking on paid 
project work directly), to do coordination, to fiddle with accountancy 
packages, to be ambassador... it seems of more benefit to have the tasks 
be fairly specialised, and to employ more people for less time to have 
more focus. If the aim is to end up with a distributed network, a 
self-coordinating organisation that needs as little organisation as 
possible, then distributing competence around quite a few people seems a 
necessary condition thereto.

Adrian pointed out that it is too easy to overfocus on the failures, to 
notice all the small things that are going wrong, rather than enjoy the 
bigger things that are going amazingly.

Anyway, this is quite speculative and reflective, i don't know if 
there's anything to act on, i just enjoy talking really ;)


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Fwd: Python hackers sought
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 2010 22:24:33 +0100
From: William Waites <ww at styx.org>
Organization: Idiosyntactix Research Laboratories
To: Jo Walsh <jo at frot.org>


I've been working with the Open Knowledge Foundation [0]
for the past little while. We're involved in projects
such as the CKAN [1], Where Does My Money Go [2], the
UK Government data distribution project [3] and are now
members of the LOD2 consortium [4]. What started out as
a non-profit on a shoestring interested in promoting
open data a few years ago now has more work than we can

So we're looking for python programmers interested in
paid work on interesting and socially useful projects.
Familiarity with Pylons and SQLAlchemy, environments
built with virtualenv, unit tests with nose, packaging
and distribution, data models, representations and
transformations are all useful. Familiarity with RDF,
and description logics would be interesting. Some
exposure to things like RabbitMQ and Solr nice but not
at all necessary. A love of and talent for creating
intuitively useful user interfaces would be *extremely*
helpful (possibly even without any python experience).

Remote work, free software, friendly people, trac, irc,

Feel free to contact me or pass this on to anyone who
you think might be interested. Best to contact me at
william.waites at okfn.org for this purpose.

[0] http://okfn.org/
[1] http://ckan.net/
[2] http://wheredoesmymoneygo.org/
[3] http://data.gov.uk/
[4] http://lod2.eu

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