[OSGeo-Discuss] Where to, OSGeo?

Seven (aka Arnulf) seven at arnulf.us
Sun Sep 12 11:54:22 PDT 2010

On 09/12/2010 05:12 PM, Ari Jolma wrote:
> Where to, OSGeo?
> I've seen, heard, and discussed now twice Tyler's (Tyler Mitchell, OSGeo
> CEO) presentation on OSGeo strategy. First in Nottingham in June and now
> in Barcelona. The presentation is a mind map, and it introduces the
> phases organizations go through as they evolve. OSGeo has clearly been a
> success so far with several successful conferences in a row, growing
> number of foundation projects, and a community that is recognized and
> respected. The question Tyler asks, is, where OSGeo wants to be in, say,
> 5 years from now, and how do we know if we have reached our goals.
> What I present below draws from those meetings and others and I don't
> claim that any of the ideas below is mine or even new in any way.
> Opinions are mine of course.
> OSGeo surely wants to live, and to live means to grow and evolve. Grow
> older, stronger, or bigger? Stronger, think I.
> OSGeo is mostly a voluntary organization, which relies on working
> together and openly. Sometimes this means not so efficient decision
> making and confusion. That's ok, but it doesn't mean that we shouldn't
> try to improve our institutions. For example confidentiality is
> sometimes an issue. Who receives the next Sol Katz award can't be
> discussed openly. But what if somebody comes to us and makes a proposal?
> I feel that it is the business of the proposer to make it public unless
> something else is agreed together. Board is well-defined and it has
> mechanisms for private conversations, but what if the issue should be
> taken to a committee. Committees are not always well-defined. Our
> openness needs to be communicated to others but delicate issues must be
> handled with care.
> OSGeo needs funds for its operations. Both growing stronger and bigger
> require money. Some say a lot of new support money can be found, we just
> need to try harder or be more skilled in asking for it. Some say our
> members and partners in the broad sense (subscribers to this list for
> example and perhaps companies) can give money on a voluntary basis. I
> must say I believe more in the latter (but don't dismiss the first) and
> I personally feel more comfortable with it. Another idea is to create a
> new revenue stream from events or other new products.
> The concept of "a product" is interesting, although it is business
> terminology. What is the product of OSGeo? And who are its clients?
> Currently OSGeo has, IMO, two main products: FOSS4G conference and it
> itself, and two main clients: the community (i.e., OSGeo itself) and
> donors. I point out that I don't see the clients or users of the OSGeo
> software projects as clients of OSGeo (unless they are or want to be a
> part of the community). The projects are more like clients and OSGeo
> provides service products to them. How much revenue should play a role
> when new products are considered? If OSGeo wants to grow stronger, then
> the new products should be planned and "sold" with partners, maybe OSGeo
> itself having only a small role (OSGeo members can have a much bigger
> role). This then would mean that OSGeo needs a more clear idea of what
> an OSGeo partner is (and who can be a partner) and what kind of
> contracts or memorandums to sign with them.
> OSGeo is, at least its core is, a foundation for FOS software. How much
> OSGeo should care and work for FOS data, FOS educational content, etc?
> IMO, the baseline is that OSGeo should, and it is already very much
> doing so, feel very deeply about standards-based access to data. This
> will also sometimes mean authenticated access to non-free data. OSGeo
> should also feel very deeply about FOS geospatial software having at
> least an equal footing in educational institutions, both in teaching and
> in research, and both in the sense of using software and software as a
> result of research. OSGeo should encourage going beyond the baseline,
> but that should not be in its main mission.
> On a train to Davos, Switzerland,
> Ari Jolma
> charter member 2006->
> board member 2008-2010

thanks for this! It feels so useful to me that I added it to the talk 
page of the meeting [1] to make it accessible for further editing and to 
maybe encourage more comments.

our [2] task is now to build on the meeting minutes, Ari's ideas and 
whatever else we come up with and follow up with a constructive dialog 
on where we [3] are going. This is definitely not crisis management or 
anything like that but instead just a great chance to step back and look 
sideways to get a new perspective and see where we are headed. It will 
be good to break this down into several threads, parallel Wiki hacking 
and so on...

Have fun,

[1] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Talk:Face_to_Face_Meeting_Barcelona_2010
[2] "our" in this context is not just the board or some elite group of 
officers but all who consider themselves a member of OSGeo. So basically 
[3] "we" in this context is not just the board or some elite group of 
officers but all who consider themselves to have a valid stake in where 
OSGeo is headed. So basically you all.

Sorry to be dense on this but I want try really hard to prevent "us" 
from becoming a boring centrally driven org as any other. We are 
special, or is it "spacial" or "spatial"? Ugh. Language. Whatever, you 
know what I mean to say...

Exploring Space, Time and Mind

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