[OSGeo-Board] Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] OSGeo: Taking stock of OSGeo after six months

Gary Lang gary.lang at autodesk.com
Fri Aug 25 13:59:52 PDT 2006

Is this a result of tools or the committee structure and
responsibilities being to diffuse? 

-----Original Message-----
From: Jo Walsh [mailto:jo at frot.org] 
Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2006 4:26 AM
To: discuss at mail.osgeo.org
Cc: board at board.osgeo.org
Subject: [OSGeo-Board] Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] OSGeo: Taking stock of OSGeo
after six months

dear Gary, all,
On Wed, Aug 16, 2006 at 10:11:28AM -0700, Gary Lang wrote:
> As a board member, I'd like to throw out a question to our audience, 
> as we reach the six-month mark.
> I'd be very interested to hear the general public's description of the

> following, from their perspective:

As another board member i don't know if i count as 'general public', but
wanted to use this chance to write some stuff down.
> What's not working about OSGeo?

I have some issues with the internal mediating structure that organises
OSGeo and the communications which shape and reflect that. 
There at least 6 different internal committees all doing things which
affect the "outside world"'s relationship with the org in some way.
Does OSGeo benefit from such internal overcommittification?

So often when something interesting happens it needs to go to at least
2 or 3 of the different committee mailing lists - VisCom and FunCom, or
WebCom and SAC and Geodata, or... so i get 3 copies of each email, with
recursively more ridiculous cross-posting headers. Often a lot of the
conversation is just configuration-irrelevant to me. I proceed to forget
that others aren't also on the same ten $#?@!$ OSGeo lists (and spend
time searching through different sets of list archives for references -
i want them all to be integrated.)

This isn't just me bitching about tools that don't work right, though.
For one, we get a chance to fix a lot of that! [0] Maybe the fact that
people and topics in the committees overlap so much reflects that the
committees are not an optimal structure. There's work to do, and people
to do it. I understand that committees exist because of governance
process constraints about decision making powers. [1] But i wonder about
the extent to which they should be driving activity and do drive
activity. I would definitely rather go to One Big IRC Meeting of 2 or 3
hours with definite internal schedule once every 2 or 3 weeks, than the
weekly trickle of different topics i care more or less about but might
be interested in learning from or helping with. 

I think all the cross-posting on the committee lists also reflects a
kind of self-selecting meritocratic cabal, the core of which also talks
on IRC a lot. I think of jgarnett's complaint of something 'going
missing' to public view when it heads off onto the viscom list. But the
discuss list is too big and general-interest to get into the minutiae of
how many t-shirts to order for people at a conference. 

More technological fixes... start an osgeo-awareness RSS feed and
moderated list... have people write more down about what they are doing.
Try and keep stuff *off* the lists, omg, and not start too many more.
The board list, btw is open posting and some non-board-members
Make clearer about wiki etiquette - it really is okay to tear others'
stuff apart - to alter public opinion - that's what wiki is for. 
> What is working about OSGeo?

The enthusiasm for creating local chapters - what's being set up in
China and India and Germany and Canada - that OSGeo is providing a focus
for more people to get together more often and share ideas and do work
together - and this will lead to better internationalisation in more
software / documentation / data.

The way the Education and Geodata efforts are bringing more people
together - there should be open licensed tutorials and books coming out
of this - easy data discovery and packaging service. Though early days
this has the flavour of a really useful open knowledgebase, make it
easier for projects to get their software into peoples hands.

The fact that people are talking more through the incubation process -
there is definitely developer cross-pollination - better software for
all - perhaps this motivates people to stay in incubation - it is warm
and comfortable there - one has friends there. But growing up feels kind
of inevitable. More graduated projects = more energy flow.



[0] http://wiki.osgeo.org/index.php/Infrastructure_Proposal
[1] http://wiki.osgeo.org/index.php/Committee_Guidelines
[2] http://wiki.osgeo.org/index.php/Open_Letter

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