[OSGeo-Discuss] OSGeo/LocationTech relationship

Jeff McKenna jmckenna at gatewaygeomatics.com
Thu Nov 12 12:58:40 PST 2015

Hi Cameron,

I am also glad to speak of this publicly, this is a very important topic.

I have been thinking more and more about Rob's response (thank you so 
much Rob for taking the time to speak with me on that).  I will speak 
honestly here again, and I don't mean to offend:

I am now left with a realization that, what I always thought of 
LocationTech as created to help commercially-friendly geospatial 
software, is wrong.  I always just assumed that they filled a nice hole 
in the equation, by focusing on business needs.  As was pointed out to 
me today, their goals now are in fact the exact same as OSGeo's.  In 
fact, I have to really dig now for the LocationTech's former tagline of 
"commercially-friendly.." on their website, but I found the initial 
press releases for LocationTech and there it is in the second sentence, 
and then entire paragraphs on that goal.  Did something change there 
that I missed?

So now, yes, I am confused.

And no wonder that, from those initial 2012/2013 press releases from 
LocationTech, fast forward to 2015 and they are contacting each of our 3 
bidding teams for FOSS4G 2017, I'm left with a sense of surprise and 
shock.  The overlap exists, we are the same foundation, and, to make 
matters more pressing, LocationTech has politely declined any interest 
in creating their own global event for their community, and set their 
sights on OSGeo's only real source of revenue and global publicity, our 
yearly FOSS4G event.  Now the pressure is on, as this 2017 discussion 
involves huge money, finances, brands, people's jobs, two communities, 
and our beloved FOSS4G event that we have painfully built to be a global 
brand.  And yes passions are flowing, strong words of "fear", 
"bullying", "muck" are being dropped, and I have no doubt someone soon 
will say "inclusive" or "exclusive", and then "code of conduct", oh 
let's not forget "trademark" and even "lawyer" (to be honest, in the 
past week I've heard each of these words about this topic).  It's all an 
absolute mess, if you ask my opinion.

My vision is to work with foundations and organizations all around the 
world, locally or globally.  OSGeo has done a great job on this, through 
our (admittedly slow process for some people) of MoUs, and building 
those relationships through designated committees or special sessions at 
FOSS4G events.

This sudden thrust of LocationTech, by contacting each of our 3 bidders 
for 2017, is very calculated on their side, but on OSGeo's side, this is 
a hard pill to swallow so fast.

I actually don't think it is OSGeo that should be the ones talking now. 
  We haven't changed, we have always put on FOSS4G each year, moving 
around the globe.  We put community first and foremost, our community is 
very strong.  I think our community is what attracts LocationTech to 
OSGeo, why they strategically contacted each 2017 bidders, but I'd love 
to hear it from their mouths.

So I don't believe it is OSGeo that should be the ones explaining 
ourselves now.  I think this is the time for LocationTech to explain 
their vision, how it has changed over the years, and how it sees itself 
in the ecosystem, because OSGeo has been around now a long time and 
their is no confusion about OSGeo.

In regards to the current situation, I wish we could start with an MoU, 
work slowly on building a relationship, do not strategically contact 
bidders or groups on either side, but work together on building this 
ecosystem - maybe offering each other a "topic talk" extended session at 
each of our events, maybe discussing becoming a sustaining sponsor of 
each other's foundation, maybe having a shared "working group" on this 
involving both LocationTech and OSGeo board members.

I've done a lot of writing the last couple of days.  I hope this at 
least helps explain what is on my mind.

Oh, as some privately enjoy writing to me and saying I am wrong, well 
yes, I am often wrong, but at least I am speaking publicly, and trying 
so hard always to make sure that OSGeo and FOSS4G are properly represented.


On 2015-11-12 4:04 PM, Cameron Shorter wrote:
> Hi Jeff, Venka, Jody, Rob,
> Thanks for initiating this discussion and starting to put ideas out for
> public discussion.
> Jeff, Venka, I get the impression from your emails that you are
> concerned that LocationTech might "steal" community mind-share, and in
> particular take control of key OSGeo tasks such as FOSS4G and in the
> process change focus of FOSS4G into a more commercial event, which
> increases prices, and looses core community driven focus. Am I right? Or
> could you please clarify.
> For the record, at the time I was disappointed at the time that Location
> Tech was created, and the functionality of Location Tech didn't get
> created under the umbrella of OSGeo. However both organisations exist
> now, and I can see that in moving forward that both organisations can
> exist successfully together and complement each other. (+1 to Rob's
> comments).
> A few years back, when both Jeff and I were on the board, we co-authored
> "Board Priorities" [1]. (Ok, I did a lot of writing, but the board did
> contribute and sign off on it).  Prior boards have similarly outlined
> OSGeo's priorities which have been embedded in our official documents.
> The "Board Priorities" include focus on OSGeo acting as a "low capital,
> volunteer focused organisation", and acknowledge that a the role of the
> "high capital" business model is better accomplished by LocationTech.
> Jeff, Venka, Jody and others on the board, what is your vision for
> OSGeo's future direction, and in particular, what is your vision for a
> future relationship with Location Tech? Should OSGeo revise our focus
> and goals? It might help to start by being specific. What should OSGeo
> take responsibility for? What should Location Tech take responsibility
> for? Are the organisations appropriately structured and resourced to
> take on that responsibility? If not, what should change to make that happen?
> With regards to private (and threatening emails), I suggest replying
> with something like:
> "Thanks for your comments, you have some valid concerns. I'd like to
> respond to your suggestions publicly so others can join in and we can
> deal with your suggestions appropriately. Is it ok if I do so?"
> If you don't get the ok, don't deal with the suggestion. But I suggest
> refrain from implication of bullying as it implies that LocationTech is
> playing dirty tactics, which reflects badly on LocationTech and OSGeo as
> it suggests that the two organisations are unable to resolve issues
> professionally. (I'm hoping that mentioned "bullying" is just a case of
> some people getting a bit more passionate that maybe they should).
> Warm regards, Cameron
> [1] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Board_of_Directors#Board_Priorities
> On 13/11/2015 3:53 am, Rob Emanuele wrote:
>> Hi Jeff,
>> You are right, commercial-friendliness certainly does play a part in
>> LocationTech. The way I've seen that enacted is by the use of the
>> Eclipse Foundation's legal department to ensure that the projects
>> which are supported by LocationTech are declared by a legal team to be
>> free of proprietary or wrongly-licensed code. In this way, commercial
>> entities can use the projects with some assurance that they will not
>> be sued down the line for code that was not actually open in the way
>> they thought it was.
>> Also, there is a steering committee that makes decisions about how the
>> budget will be used. The budget mainly consists of member company's
>> dues. The members of the steering committee are decided by membership
>> level (large membership gets representation on the steering committee)
>> as well as a lower-membership level elected committee. There is also
>> representation by the developers, who vote independently of any
>> company and are there to represent the committers on the project. For
>> more information, you can read through some links here:
>> https://www.locationtech.org/charter
>> https://www.locationtech.org/election2015
>> In practice, as a maintainer of an open source project and developer,
>> what LocationTech has meant to me is support for my project in ways
>> that are not centered around business. To me it's been a place where
>> I've gotten to collaborate with similar open source projects and have
>> my project be promoted through events and other channels; for instance
>> I participate in Google Summer of Code and Facebook Open Academy as a
>> mentor through the Eclipse Foundation. Perhaps these are needs that
>> can also be served by OSGeo, but they have in practice been met by
>> LocationTech. From my perspective as a project lead and open source
>> developer, that there are multiple channels that can potentially
>> support me and my project is a great thing and signs of a healthy domain.
>> I did not start LocationTech. So for me it's not a question of, why
>> should LocationTech be created when there is already OSGeo;
>> LocationTech already exists, and I don't think it's up to me to
>> question it's existence. Nor do I think it's a useful exercise to
>> question the existence of something that clearly has support and is
>> supporting others. I can only decide which organizations I believe in
>> and support, and what I can get out of those organizations as far as
>> them supporting me. So on a personal level, my thoughts are that both
>> OSGeo and LocationTech are good organizations. I'd like to find ways
>> to support both organizations, and find ways both organizations can
>> support me and my project.
>> On a more general level, I'm against centralization. Having diversity
>> in governance structures, funding models and support channels is a
>> good thing, and I don't want there to be only one "true" organization
>> that I can look to for support. However, like I mentioned, the ideal
>> would be that those organizations could figure out how to use their
>> difference skill sets to work together on making the community as a
>> whole move forward. And that is what I am hoping OSGeo and
>> LocationTech can do (as well as any other related organizations).
>> Jody did a talk at FOSS4G NA 2015 on some of the differences between
>> LocationTech and OSGeo, I recommend it:
>> https://youtu.be/sdpEa6XdQEo
>> Best,
>> Rob
>> On Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 10:54 AM, Jeff McKenna
>> <jmckenna at gatewaygeomatics.com <mailto:jmckenna at gatewaygeomatics.com>>
>> wrote:
>>     Hi Rob,
>>     Thank you for your very thoughtful response.  You summarize the
>>     situation very well.  I think talking openly like this on this
>>     topic, is the only way to make this all work.
>>     It sounds like I am wrong about LocationTech's goals; at the same
>>     time then, if that is the case, that LocationTech is not about
>>     commerce (doesn't "commercially friendly" encourage business
>>     interest?), then what was the need to create a separate new
>>     foundation, also focused on growing Open Source geospatial software?
>>     I hope we can speak openly here Rob, I do not mean any disrespect
>>     to you personally or to LocationTech (some take it personal).
>>     Please share here the reasons you see to have 2 foundations
>>     focused on the same goal.
>>     Thanks,
>>     -jeff
>>     On 2015-11-12 11:37 AM, Rob Emanuele wrote:
>>         Hi Jeff,
>>         I'm sorry to hear you are being bullied in private messages. It is
>>         perhaps best to bring in the Code of Conduct committee to help
>>         handle
>>         this; direct threats and private bulling tactics seem in
>>         violation with
>>         the CoC, and there should be steps taken to ensure that our
>>         community
>>         doesn't have bulling in our midst that goes unaddressed.
>>         I'm disappointed that you take LocationTech's core goal as "to
>>         promote
>>         business and give those businesses a stage". Your point of
>>         view and
>>         behavior on the lists makes more sense knowing that, though;
>>         if you
>>         believe that LocationTech is really about promoting the
>>         businesses, and
>>         not the greater community, then having LocationTech involved
>>         in the
>>         FOSS4G conferences would diminish the non-business community
>>         members'
>>         role in the conference, which would be a Bad thing. However,
>>         as a member
>>         of the LocationTech PMC and someone who was/is involved in the
>>         FOSS4G NA
>>         2015 and FOSS4G NA 2016 process, as well as someone involved
>>         in the
>>         FOSS4G 2017 Philadelphia bid, I want to assure you that is not
>>         the case.
>>         There is real focus and real work being done at LocationTech
>>         to help the
>>         community of developers and users of FOSS4G. In this instance
>>         I'm using
>>         FOSS4G for what the acronym actually means, Free and Open Source
>>         Software for Geospatial, not referring to the conference that has
>>         captured that name. Both LocationTech and OSGeo exist to
>>         support FOSS4G,
>>         and the greater community (greater then both of those
>>         organizations)
>>         that use and develop FOSS4G. There are differences in the
>>         organizations
>>         for sure, and I think highlighting those differences and really
>>         understanding how they serve the community in different ways is
>>         important. The ideal scenario that I see is that both
>>         organizations
>>         would use those differences to collaborate and have a
>>         sum-greater-than-it's-parts type of support system for FOSS4G.
>>         Instead,
>>         we have a situation where there's distrust, finger pointing, and
>>         political "power plays" against each other. We have the
>>         president of one
>>         of the organizations characterizing the core goal of the other
>>         organization in a dangerously wrong way. We have decisions and
>>         discussions about a million dollar revenue generating
>>         conference focused
>>         on that million dollars, rather then how to ensure that
>>         conference does
>>         the best job possible at supporting and pushing forward the
>>         community.
>>         We have the precious resource that is the energy of volunteers
>>         being
>>         spent on political infighting rather than on collaboration towards
>>         serving the community. I'm not sure the best path forward for
>>         this, but
>>         I want to declare that the situation as I see it is bad for the
>>         community, collaboration between OSGeo and LocationTech would
>>         be good
>>         for the community, and I hope as a whole we can move towards
>>         that better
>>         future.
>>         I hear your concerns for the price of the FOSS4G NA tickets,
>>         though I'll
>>         point out to people who are following along that it's not as
>>         simple as a
>>         flat $1000 dollar rate. I encourage you to look at the
>>         registration
>>         pricing breakdown when it's published for FOSS4G NA 2016, be
>>         sure to
>>         apply for a non-corporate pass if you will not be reimbursed by a
>>         company, and to apply for a scholarship if the cost is still
>>         too high.
>>         Also, if you are giving a talk, registration is free, so
>>         please submit!
>>         The Call For Proposals is now open
>>         (<https://2016.foss4g-na.org/cfp>https://2016.foss4g-na.org/cfp).
>>         Jeff, your presence was missed at FOSS4G NA 2015 and I hope
>>         that you can
>>         come to Raleigh for FOSS4G NA 2016.
>>         Best,
>>         Rob
>>         On Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 8:40 AM, Jeff McKenna
>>         <jmckenna at gatewaygeomatics.com
>>         <mailto:jmckenna at gatewaygeomatics.com>
>>         <mailto:jmckenna at gatewaygeomatics.com
>>         <mailto:jmckenna at gatewaygeomatics.com>>>
>>         wrote:
>>             On 2015-11-12 7:01 AM, Jody Garnett wrote:
>>                 I have gotten a number of private emails expressing
>>         concerns about
>>                 LocationTech being involved in several of the foss4g
>>         bids. I
>>                 guess I had
>>                 the opposite concern last year when there was the
>>         joint OSGeo /
>>                 LocationTech foss4gna conference. I was kind of
>>         embarrassed our
>>                 behavior
>>                 as a community - would prefer to see us as welcoming
>>         and supportive
>>                 (especially as we had a first time organizer that
>>         could use our
>>                 support).
>>             Hi Jody,
>>             I am very glad that you brought this up publicly. Lately I
>>         too have
>>             received very disturbing direct emails, containing threats
>>         of "if
>>             this happens you watch" "karma you watch yourself" "if we
>>         lose you
>>             watch out" and direct bullying tactics, for speaking my
>>         mind on this
>>             issue.  The same people sending these threats will not speak
>>             publicly on this, so I have asked them to stop sending me
>>         these
>>             messages, but the messages continue, so I have stopped
>>         answering
>>             them.  These are "power-play" emails sent directly to me,
>>         but I will
>>             tell them here publicly, bullying me will not stop me from
>>         speaking
>>             openly about OSGeo's one event all year, the global
>>         FOSS4G. (for
>>             those not following the 2017 conference discussions, you
>>         would have
>>             to read a long thread to get caught up
>>         http://osgeo-org.1560.x6.nabble.com/Call-to-discuss-FOSS4G-2017-proposals-prior-to-voting-td5234235.html).
>>             As someone just wrote last night on another list, likely
>>         there would
>>             be no one else that has attended more FOSS4G events, regional,
>>             global, anything, than myself. I make a point of going to
>>         a FOSS4G
>>             event, to help grow the local community, no matter what
>>         size of the
>>             event or where it is.  Lately in my FOSS4G travels I have
>>         noticed a
>>             return to our FOSS4G roots, where the popular events are
>>         very low
>>             cost, aimed at developers, users, students, researchers,
>>         and the
>>             smaller companies trying to make a living (a great recent
>>         example is
>>             the FOSS4G-Como event this past July).  Getting back to
>>         the topic of
>>             your message: I too have been embarrassed by recent
>>             FOSS4G-NorthAmerica events; I was shocked to see the 1,000 USD
>>             registration fee there.
>>             But I was not too upset, because no one is traveling the small
>>             FOSS4Gs like me to see the difference, and I didn't see
>>         complaints
>>             voiced from the local NorthAmerican community. LocationTech
>>             involved in FOSS4G-NA is a good thing, to promote business
>>         and give
>>             those businesses a stage; the core goal of LocationTech.
>>             However now we are in the process for deciding the global
>>         FOSS4G
>>             event for 2017, OSGeo's flagship event, attended by the
>>             international community, and we must be very careful.
>>         Working with
>>             foundations is good (hence all of OSGeo's great MoUs), and
>>         I'll use
>>             the upcoming example that the 2016 team is considering, giving
>>             LocationTech a 90 minute slot in the program for their
>>         projects (and
>>             the same for OSGeo, UN, likely OGC, and other
>>         organizations).  This
>>             is a wonderful way for OSGeo's FOSS4G event to involve other
>>             organizations.  I hope that LocationTech will also give
>>         OSGeo a 90
>>             minute slot in their big conference someday as well; this
>>         would be
>>             exactly what I see as best-case scenario.
>>             On the other hand, not signing an MoU, and then just
>>         contacting all
>>             of our 2017 bidders, is quite a different method to get to the
>>             table. Instead of a long-standing MoU agreement that would
>>         foster
>>             the relationship throughout the years, as we have with so many
>>             organizations, we are faced with a decision now that
>>         involves both
>>             foundations and 1,000,000 USD (the annual FOSS4G event
>>         generates a
>>             lot of revenue, making this very attractive to professional
>>             conference companies all over the world, I was phoned
>>         yesterday by
>>             one from Europe, for example).  The money is there, huge
>>         money, and
>>             huge exposure for these companies.  And their jobs are on
>>         the line,
>>             in their minds.  Hence this situation we are forced to
>>         deal with
>>             now, and these nasty private messages being sent to me.
>>             Let's try to remain positive though, as we have 3 great
>>         bids for
>>             FOSS4G 2017, and a solid team working hard already to make
>>             FOSS4G-2016 in Bonn another amazing event.  OSGeo has
>>         never been so
>>             active and vibrant as so many initiatives and location
>>         chapters grow
>>             all around the world.
>>             Thanks for listening, and thank you Jody for bringing this
>>         topic to
>>             the public lists.
>>             -jeff
>>             --
>>             Jeff McKenna
>>             President, OSGeo
>>         http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Jeff_McKenna

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