[OSGeo-Discuss] Proposed OSGeo Vision

Suchith Anand Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk
Mon Nov 16 03:58:08 PST 2015

Thank you Jeff for your dedication and efforts for OSGeo and taking time to put together your ideas for the proposed OSGeo vision and thanks to Cameron for excellent comments/suggestions to help refine this.

This proposed OSGeo vision ideas are a good start to discuss and brainstorm ideas of how we can expand OSGeo for the future. I suggest that this should be something the OSGeo Board should also look into and input.

Best wishes,


From: Discuss [discuss-bounces at lists.osgeo.org] on behalf of Cameron Shorter [cameron.shorter at gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2015 11:20 AM
To: discuss at lists.osgeo.org
Subject: Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Proposed OSGeo Vision

Hi Jeff,
I've renamed this email thread to "Proposed OSGeo Vision", and have
selected out your text specifically related the Vision.

I'm re-reading the text more slowly on my second pass.
Firstly, I think you have done a great first pass. Please consider my
comments as suggested refinements.

In general:
I question the emphasis on face-to-face meetings over email.
I agree that face-to-face meetings can be very effective and empowering
for the people within the room, however it comes at a cost.
1. Only the people in the room are empowered. This lends itself well to
a hierarchical command-and-control power structure. Decisions are made
by the powerful, while the masses are disenfranchised.
2. For a global organisation, it is expensive to fly everyone into one
3. For a low-capital organisation (like OSGeo), it is difficult to
justify travel expenses over many other valuable low cost and effective
4. Decentralised communication is very effective at attracting large and
active communities.

Open Source communities thrive on leaderless organisation, email lists,
IRC channels, and other cheap communication channels. (I blogged on this
decades ago when the internet was just starting to become main stream [1]).


On 16/11/2015 6:13 am, Jeff McKenna wrote:
> Vision For OSGeo
> ================
> (I should first state that I have called a face to face meeting with
> the OSGeo Board members to work together on topics such as vision and
> the goals of OSGeo, and how to achieve those goals, and that meeting
> will be in January, attended by all members of this new OSGeo board)
<suggest trim above comment from final text>
> "My vision is for OSGeo to be the Open Source geospatial community all
> across the globe, everywhere and anywhere, and have fun doing it.  The
> OSGeo community is special, we are unique, we do great things for the
> world, we are open, and we have fun.  We accept anyone into our
> community and will give them the spotlight, to help their local
> community and the world share its spatial information.  We are OSGeo."
<In the final version, I suggest removing all "personal" terms to
"group" terms. Ie, it should not be "MY vision" any more, but rather
"The OSGeo Vision">

<Some word tweaking required here. I'm not sure we "accept anyone". We
encourage ideas from everyone, we encourage supportive communities, ...
We don't accept discrimination, or people who promote discrimination.>

> Many have seen me speak about "community" all around the world since
> about 2008, and it is OSGeo's community that is so valued. This vision
> puts our community in that spotlight, and is something that I already
> know that we all follow in our hearts.  It is the OSGeo spirit that
> drives us all, that some may not understand, but we can teach them and
> help them share their geospatial information openly, and, show them
> how fun it is.

<I'd suggest above sentence can be removed from an OSGeo vision. (There
are 2 messages through this text: 1. OSGeo's Vision. 2. Jeff's
commentary. The OSGeo Vision should be separate text without the

> How to get there
> ================
> Focus on Developing Regions
> ---------------------------
> Over the next 5 or 10 years, various developing regions ("developing"
> in the sense of in-progress of becoming world leaders in open) across
> the globe, not known globally for their OSGeo chapters yet, will be
> given the OSGeo spotlight.  These are important regions of the world,
> extremely active locally but not as well known globally for their
> efforts in Open Source geospatial.  Some possible examples are South
> America, South Asia, Russia, China, Middle East, North Africa, and
> India.  OSGeo will help give them the world stage for Open Source
> geospatial.

I suggest avoiding time based terms (next 5 to 10 years) for a vision
statement. A vision statement might be getting read in 5 years time, and
unless you know when the statement was written, you don't have a
framework for knowing if the timeframe is still valid.

I suggest for a vision statement, stay generic and don't specifically
name regions to focus on. State instead that OSGeo aims to give multiple
regions, including developing regions the opportunity of an
international spotlight.

How do you plan to give regions a spotlight? This should be explained at
least in general terms. Will OSGeo be encouraging FOSS4G to be held in
developing regions? This should have some practical ideas which can be
implemented and questioned to see if it is technically achievable.

> Local Chapters
> --------------
> All of the fun happens locally, it is through local chapters that
> OSGeo can grow Open Source geospatial software, learn, share, and have
> fun. We currently have about 30 official chapters, and about 30 in
> formation, but we have so much more work to do to help chapters grow
> in other communities.  Let's help them! :)
Suggest revisit "All of the fun happens locally". "Fun" can happen anywhere.
Who is going to help the local chapters?
With what resources?
How do the local chapters need help?
Note that OSGeo is volunteer driven, and is not in a position to direct
The board can allocate money from a limited budget toward activities,
but that is not much, and it is limited.

> Projects
> --------
> OSGeo projects and those in incubation are very stable and have
> vibrant communities.  OSGeo must help these projects grow, and also
> help incoming projects find a home in our community.  We must be
> accepting to changing trends and styles in the global industry.

Suggest change "must" to "aim to".
"must" implies you have control over a workforce, when the best you have
is the ability to inspire volunteers.

> Charter Members
> ---------------
> OSGeo charter members will drive the formation of the Open Source
> geospatial community.
The OSGeo Community is already formed.
Maybe mention "From time to time, charter members will be INVITED to
take a more active role in OSGeo decision making, by being polled on key
strategic decisions, as identified by the board.

> Diversity
> ---------
> OSGeo must from now on have 50% women on its Board of Directors. This
> year's board has the first women ever on its board, but for 2016/2017
> and beyond, women will again be strongly represented at the board
> level of the OSGeo foundation.  This will help provide strong
> leadership from OSGeo throughout the world.
Again, suggest avoid word "must". Suggest aim for "diversity in
background and gender in board of directors". It is good to have equal
representation from women, but I think it more important to have the
best people for the job, regardless of gender. If there are more men
than women involved in OSGeo, statistics would suggest that there should
be more men on the board too.
> Education and Training
> ----------------------
> OSGeo will continue to spread Open Source geospatial to students and
> educators around the world, through the GeoForAll initiative. Focus
> will also change from post-secondary institutions to
> secondary/high-school, getting the young minds excited and interested
> in sharing and being open.

OSGeo can encourage Education initiatives, but again, we don't have
resources to allocate.
> Professional Service Providers
> ------------------------------
> OSGeo will begin to focus on its service providers, and give them the
> spotlight they deserve, for choosing to operate their business around
> OSGeo projects.  Focus will not only be placed on the larger
> businesses, but for the first time ever, small businesses will be
> given the spotlight from OSGeo.

OSGeo has been promoting OSGeo Service providers (big and small) for
years through this (dated) search:

How else do you propose that Service Providers are promoted?

Do Service Providers need to pay for such promotion?

> (in my travels, I estimate that 90% of OSGeo's service providers have
> <10 employees, yet we are not giving these businesses any spotlight)
<trim commentary from final version>
> ------
> OSGeo's hugely successful yearly event, the global FOSS4G, will
> continue to travel around the world each year.  The goal of OSGeo's
> global FOSS4G event over the next 5 to 10 years will be to expand to
> new areas, plant the OSGeo seed locally, learn, share, and have fun.
> The goal will be to share this passion as much as possible, by having
> low-cost FOSS4G events.  Regional FOSS4G events will satisfy local
> needs, in however the local chapters desire.

I suggest invite the conference committee to contribute to this section.
I'd like to see collective knowledge from conferences passed between
events more effectively.
I think building up the FOSS4G Handbook would help achieve that:

I think this section should be revisited after conversations with

> Code Sprints
> ------------
> OSGeo will actively promote its ability to support all code sprints of
> any size, no matter if there is only one project being enhanced.

I suggest that this statement should not be quite as Open Ended. As it
stands, this could be interpreted to mean that any code sprint will be
funded by OSGeo. There are limits to OSGeo's budget, and this should be
acknowledged in the words we select.

> Working with other organizations
> --------------------------------
> Working closely with other organizations will continue to be important
> for OSGeo.  MoUs with organizations encourage communication, and
> usually have the 2 leaders of the parties sit down face to face once a
> year and talk (which is really priceless in the long-term for the
> commmunity) and review the agreement. Admittedly these agreements are
> not liked by the business-types, for not offering any firm details up
> front (like financial benefits), but in the long term these agreements
> help change opinions, give momentum to both parties, and end up
> creating jobs in the industry.

I think we can find better words here.
"OSGeo will continue to work with external organisations which share
common goals with OSGeo.
This will typically start with the collaborative development of a MoU
which highlights areas where collaboration will be mutually beneficial,
and the nature of such collaboration."

> Standards
> ---------
> Standards in geospatial software and data will continue to be one of
> the core parts of every OSGeo project.
> Financial Focus
> ---------------
> OSGeo has never been about generating revenue.  OSGeo is and will be
> about being the Open Source geospatial community, sharing, learning,
> and having fun.  OSGeo will continue to be lean, earning enough
> funding to help its annual FOSS4G and other events, maintain OSGeo's
> infrastructure, and other critical needs.  The OSGeo foundation will
> continue to be volunteer driven.
> Discussion
> ==========
> In terms of what I would do to foster working with LocationTech, I
> would work with Andrea directly to develop an MoU agreement draft, and
> then take that draft to each of our Boards.  To formalize this
> agreement, I would call for a "Summit" to be held around March of this
> year between the LocationTech Steering Committee members, and the
> OSGeo Board of Directors.  This would be a one day meeting, in person,
> and not related to any other existing event (not added to an existing
> program/event). This would allow the OSGeo Board to meet in January,
> establish their goals, and then to sit down prepared with LocationTech
> Steering Committee in March.
> I do feel that the LocationTech/OSGeo relationship needs to be
> examined slowly, and this is why I made a stand here this/last week.
> I apologize to Andrea if I have offended her, or disrespected her in
> any way.

Cameron Shorter,
Software and Data Solutions Manager
Suite 112, Jones Bay Wharf,
26 - 32 Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont NSW 2009

P +61 2 9009 5000,  W www.lisasoft.com,  F +61 2 9009 5099

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