[Marketing] Processing "OSGeo Teach-in" request

Arnulf Christl arnulf.christl at wheregroup.com
Sat May 31 07:14:03 EDT 2008

Paul Ramsey and Jeff McKenna have published a proposal to create a new
brand called "OSGeo Teach-in" [0]. The idea is to hold a for profit
workshop (several days) that teaches the use and application of Free and
Open Source Geospatial Software including but not limited to the OSGeo

To raise the attractiveness for this undertaking two main ideas were
1. Invite well-known individuals from the FOSSGIS community to give the
2. Create a tight liaison with OSGeo and making it an official OSGeo Event.

The first part in itself is perfectly reasonable and addresses standard
market mechanisms. Get the best teachers pay them adequately for their
effort and market the "Teach-in" as a high prize, high quality

The second part involves making the "OSGeo Teach-in" an official "OSGeo
Event". But up to date these have invariably been organized as non-profit
events. OSGeo appears at a growing number of conferences, trade fairs,
meetings and so on - always (as far as I know) with non-commercial[1]
ambitions. The latest FOSS4G also was a commercial success and all the
surplus went to OSGeo. The same (on a more humble level) applies to other
non-profit oriented events organized by local groups (for example the
FOSSGIS conference in Germany).

The "Teach-in" proposal proposes to combine the commercial viability of
such an undertaking with the non-profit character of OSGeo. This (plus
[2]) started a somewhat controversial debate on the Board list ([3]) and
some back channels. As usual with hot new topics it was interspersed with
emotion, allegations and reproaches (all from my part) as well as with
good ideas, thoughtful comments and some good directions.

In order to put some order into the chaos the follow up discussion should
be orderly and openly. As chair of Marketing (and because I already did
some inadvertent damage when criticizing the proposal) I feel obliged to
take a lead in starting to find out what good we can make of this
proposal. If it was a less controversial topic we should simply make it a
Trac ticket and proceed. To have broader input I suggest to discuss
options more broadly here (when answering please delete all the above
intro blah).

"OSGeo Teach-in" options:
1. Create a new brand called "OSGeo Teach-in" and make it available for
use by paying OSGeo sponsors.
2. Create a new OSGeo-Event called "OSGeo Teach-in" and organize it in a
similar community driven way like FOSS4G (call for proposal, select the
best option, get the surplus). This OSGeo fund raising activity would have
to be managed by OSGeo (maybe the Conference Committee?)

I propose to discuss these options (and please modify them heavily and add
more ideas). When a rough consensus can be seen that it is at all viable
to go on then we should create the obligatory Wiki page and consolidate
our thoughts there. Then make it a motion to pass Marketing and propose to
the Board for decision.

Ideally we (Marketing) can develop a tool from it that can be used to
further build the brand OSGeo and give its members[4] an option to profit
from that brand.

Best regards,

[0] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2008-May/002444.html

[1] Beware of the term non-commercial. Whenever I myself appear at a
conference and talk about the benefit of Open Source I also must have a
commercial interest in building interest around Open Source because it is
the foundation of the business model of my company. Otoh whenever people
in my company build Open Source and publish it together with in-depth
knowledge for All to use then it has a non-commercial touch.

[2] Some of the reasoning in the proposal could be interpreted as drawing
attention away from the annual FOSS4G, some of it could be interpreted as
being overly NA-centric, some of it could be seen as overly OSGeo in-cabal
protective. All the same my personal interpretations (and watch out - me
myself and I are all part of the in-cabal) are that the proposal was
proposed with the best intention of the proposers' to not oppose OSGeo's
goals. I fully trust that it was only ignorance the lead them to cause
this havoc in my brain.

[3] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2008-May/thread.html
Search for "Teach-in 2009" and "So what is the purpose of OSGeo?"

[4] This is more anecdotal: What types of memberships exist in OSGeo?
There is an official definition [5] plus (perceived ones in brackets)?
* Participant
* (Pseudo-members-who-exist-in-the-wiki)
* (OSGeo LDAP user)
* Member
* (Intentional Member)
* Supporter
* (Member-in-good-standing)
* Charter Member
* (Cabal Member)
[5] http://www.osgeo.org/membership

Best regards,

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