[OSGeo-Discuss] Report from the OSGeo Board meeting

Seven (aka Arnulf) seven at arnulf.us
Wed Sep 21 00:34:49 PDT 2011

On 09/20/2011 11:11 PM, karsten vennemann wrote:
> Yes indeed I can only echo what Gary wrote in his email.

Then please read Frank's and my answer and come back here to say whether
this addressed your concerns or at least some of them.

> I might get ahead of myself with too many assumptions here - before the
> board even outlined the full reasoning for this decision of eliminating the
> executive directors position. 
> But in fact the reasons have not been clearly communicated in Arnulf's
> summary thus I am just continuing the discussion here. I am very curious how
> eliminating the only paid staff position that OSGeo had will really benefit
> the well being of the organization. Obviously there are as many opinions
> about how OSGEO should be run as OSGeo as we have members ;) 

In OGC they have "unanimous consent". Such thing would not work in OSGeo
for exactly your specified reasons, therefore we have a do-ocracy which
is enhanced by a slim overhead of structure including a board of
directors. On top of this we had one paid position. This role could not
satisfy all the opinions of how to run the organization. As a result the
board took this decision.

> For me as a GIS professional and business owner it is a
> "no-brainer"(american slang) that a global professional organization simply
> cannot be run professionally with out any paid staff, or at the very least
> not very well. 

I cannot see that your professional business is a sponsor of OSGeo - it
is a no-brainer that this is the simplest way of funding an ED position
- if you really believe that we need it. Sorry to be blunt (German style).

> Volunteers are great but can do only that much. I am thinking
> especially of the areas of professional
> Marketing,  Education,  and User support + outreach. 

...which in my opinion are exactly the areas where we did not do too
well in the past years - even with an ED position. By redirecting funds
to realize specific objectives I believe that we can achieve more in
these areas.

>>From my perspective it is imperative to have a well coordinated,
> professional (yes therefore paid!!!!!) position to support these and other
> tasks OSGeo performs day to day as a global entity.

I do not think that a single person can live up to the expectations
OSGeo has of such a role. Not Tyler and not anyone else. Instead we
should gear the funds towards professionals who can achieve more in
their very capacity. I believe that the critical part of your
perspective is summarized by "well coordinated". How are you going to do
this when there are as many opinions as there are members of OSGeo? Who
gives the coordination? So far it has been the board - and if this
coordination was bad then we should have replaced the board, not the ED.
I do not believe that one paid staff or even a team of paid staff can do
any better - why should they? The only way to find ideal coordination is
by excelling in communication - something that I believe we are quite
good at.

Ah - well, except me - I might appear somewhat agitated right now and
beg your forgiveness.

But I bluntly refuse to accept that a paid professional (professional
what?) will solve the issue of multiple opinions. Do you remember
OSGeo's very first staff member? He was the community manager of
CollabNet - the closest thing I can imagine to resemble a professional
in this field - and we wasted him within a few months.

Instead we are on to something new - I firmly believe that a community
of volunteers can achieve what we set out to do. I laughed at Wikipedia
when they started and did not quite believe OpenStreetMap would get
anywhere, both proved me wrong. It is only fair if you doubt that OSGeo
will get anywhere, I don't.

> If there are new directions the OSGeo board is planning to follow, that do
> really support OSGeo as an professional organization, I would encourage that
> the planning behind this and the details will communicated to the members.

Please don't take this personally - but experience shows that whenever
someone starts preach professionalism without being able to exactly
specify what this includes, only shows that the problem has not been

Having said that I challenge you to help plan OSGeo's future. This is
your chance.

Have fun,

> Cheers
> Karsten
> Karsten Vennemann
> Principal
> Terra GIS LTD
> 2119 Boyer Ave E 
> Seattle, WA  98112
> USA 
> www.terragis.net
> _______________________________________________
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> Discuss at lists.osgeo.org
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