[OSGeo-Discuss] Board member position statement

Jo Walsh jo at frot.org
Wed Mar 15 07:26:12 PST 2006

On Mon, Mar 13, 2006 at 02:51:51PM -0800, Michael P. Gerlek wrote:
> I encourage the other nominees to submit their own position statements to the list as well.

I second that encouragement, and so to help support it, i wrote one.


What factors external to code make open source projects really successful? 

- Brilliant documentation
- Engaging demos
- A supportive community

How can OSGeo take these factors to a meta level?

Documentation which is driven by real-world examples helps a lot;
providing a bootstrap for people new to a language or a domain, and
letting them work their way through to expert status. OSGeo should be
providing an index into all the different projects' documentation
sets, that helps potential new users to make better decisions, causing
as little impact on their existing platform and storage as possible.
Overview documentation can offer an analysis of likely situations that
proprietary software users find themselves in, with "paths out" to a
more open platform; this can be propaganda, but of a practical, not
obfuscatory, nature. 

I never thought i would meet a technical community as friendly,
helpful and vocal as the perlmongers, until i met this one. I'd like
to see regular discussion summaries from different project lists, for
those who don't have time to follow all the discussions, as the core
perl lists have done. Clearer communication helps organisational
structures to build themselves organically. But nothing can replace
meeting face to face for building conversational energy around any
project. I liked Schuyler's idea of providing support resources for
people to start local osgeo-users groups. I think the OSGeo core can
benefit from meeting up for workshops and sprints, in different spaces
at the same time.

People become engaged with applications when they can see a reflection
of the world around them. Everyone looks for their house on an aerial
map; we all want to see where we are more clearly. When i started
trying to build RDF-based collaborative mapping tools in the UK, i ran
head-on into the geodata access problem, and i'm still running. As we
start to get more access, either to state-collected bodies of geodata,
or open licensed community contributed efforts, we'll need better
means of describing that data, collecting and correlating the
descriptions. This is where i hope RDF will become really useful
alongside the OGC standards base, as a "parallel stream" of metadata
expressed in something that's already a strong web-oriented standard.
Directories or "discovery services" for data are something that more
and more people are looking for; now that we have free software, what
are we going to process with it? Demos are only as engaging as the
world model they contain. Everyone here knows they can do better than
mainstream web mapping, 

I see all of these aspects as moving towards a peer-based education process.

I want being in a foundation to be fun.


Best regards,


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