[OSGeo-Standards] [OSGeo-Discuss] OGC liaison memberships

Adrian Custer acuster at gmail.com
Thu Jun 6 09:47:51 PDT 2013

Hey Seven,

Thanks for the help on the OGC membership and the comments. Each 
provides room for progress. The rebuke started me thinking and then just 
pissed me off so was mostly lost on me.

Everyone else, this mail is on this list since the original was sent 
here. Unfortunately, it combines a bunch of unrelated issues, and much 
of it actually deals with internal issues of the OGC so the mail as a 
whole may not be of interest to you. In this mail, I address several issues:
   1. My obtaining membership of the OGC using an OSGeo slot
   2. My lobbying at the OGC for OSGeo issues
   3. The goal of evolving the OSGeo role at the OGC
   4. Arnulf's critique of my recent activity
The first three are easily addressed and relevant to this list; the 
latter is a ramble and mostly relevant to the OGC: it can easily be skipped.

I. Membership

The membership stuff is now in the OGC's hands. I'll let the list know 
when things are settled.

II. Representation

On 6/3/13 8:20 AM, Seven (aka Arnulf) wrote:
> Please note that this role is *not* an OSGeo / OGC "liaison
> member". We do not have anything like this in place.

Apparently we have a different understanding of that word so I will let 
it drop.

At the OGC, I will represent myself only. I will describe my association 
with OSGeo as 'a second-class, non-voting member' to go along with my 
'second-class, non-voting membership of the OGC', a nice parallel of 
dysfunctionality of the two groups.

III. OSGeo's role at the OGC

>> On the front of OSGeo building deeper ties with the OGC and,
>> perhaps becoming a voting member someday, I think we should move
>> forwards on a number of fronts jointly.
> I am not sure whether it makes sense to make OSGeo a voting member of
> the OGC at all. We put a lot of thought into this before coming up
> with the MoU and 5 free membership slots. Our hopes were that having
> people from broader OSGeo be able to actively contribute to the work
> groups would be the right way forward. Voting is cheap. Work is hard.
> Another option would have been to make OSGeo a regular member of OGC.
> This would require OSGeo to have a regular membership - which we
> don't. Plus it would belittle the role of OSGeo as yet another
> organization that is an OGC member - instead of acting at eye height
> with the OGC. I am not sure whether the one more vote or not in the TC
> would make any change at all. Especially given that we would have to
> somehow collate all the opinions of the broader OSGeo community (which
> is not defined) into a common position. Ugh. Good luck with that. :-)

This raises interesting issues.

You are right to remind me of the past, since indeed we argued that 
OSGeo should not act as a voting member due to both the collaborative 
nature of OSGeo making it hard to reach a single consensus and to the 
weakness of individual votes in the OGC voting process.

However, this recent experience argues the contrary. First, a broad 
swath of the OSGeo membership did express a common position. Secondly, 
it became apparent that a 'no' vote carries significant importance: 
first because it can help stop the OGC voting process, second because it 
forces the SWG to respond formally to the position. A 'no' vote turns 
out to be the only way that the OGC must formally acknowledge an outside 
position; in contrast, the impact of the OSGeo letter is not known. 
Therefore, by having voting rights, OSGeo's responses would carry an 
importance beyond the actual vote and may be worth considering for that 
reason alone.

So I guess I will leave this alone for now. If others at OSGeo want to 
be able to influence the OGC formally during the voting process, I will 
let those others bring that discussion forwards.

>> The first is clearly discussion and openness, letting Carl, the
>> head of the TC and Mark, the president of the OGC both know that
>> this is something we are seeking and towards which we plan to
>> work.

IV. My recent activity

This is the boring part that is totally skipable.

In brief, I think Arnulf mixed together his emotions over the recent 
events along with confusing what mails were sent where, to develop a 
criticism of my recent activity which lacks fairness and clarity. This 
is not a big deal since I suspect that there are justified criticism of 
my recent work and that Arnulf, given the time, would be able to express 
those clearly. Not that it is worth the time. Perhaps then, this 
response, in the way of flame wars, exists only for me to justify myself 
to myself. Read it only if you have time for such things.

> I guess that a word of dissent from me after you received so much
> positive feedback for your latest activities should be in order.
> Personally I do not like your form and style of communication.

Fair enough. However, I think you perhaps misread your emails.

> another's organization "sick" on a public mailing list is divisive and
> unhelpful. It is cheap to call the OCG names.

This is a mix of error and criticism which I have a hard time separating.

The mail was not sent to a public mailing list. To my knowledge, my only 
reference to 'sick' was at the beginning of an exceedingly long 
criticism of the OGC which was addressed to the president of that 
organization and sent openly on an internal mailing list of the OGC 
explicitly designed to 'discuss' issues within the Technical Committee. 
If I mentioned that message on OSGeo lists, that was possibly in poor 
form; I plead only that I have spent over a hundred hours on this 
debacle trying my best to be politic and, in the mix, I may have failed 
occasionally. I do know that I resisted repeated demands to republish 
the document on a public list, because I felt it would need extensive 
contextualization and revision to counter-balance the criticism in a 
public space.

I called the OGC 'sick' which you may find cheap; I find it effective. 
The word in English is not particularly insulting since it insinuates an 
external causal agent and therefore assigns no blame on any actors. In 
my mail, the word stands in for 'Hey, I know the rest of this mail is 
huge; the bottom line is that there are real issues that need to be 
addressed'. If all I had done was call the OGC 'sick' it would not 
matter much since it would be dismissible so easily. No, I actually used 
the word on the way in to an extensive critique, something that has 
accumulated over the past four years, a critique that took me over a day 
to write, i.e. something far from cheap. So you can harp on the 'sick' 
and call it cheap; doing only that, however, you nicely avoid addressing 
the meat of the issue which is the criticism and avenues for resolution. 
Personally, I am astounded at the lack of any response from the 
president or anyone else at the OGC: perhaps ignoring the membership is 
the way of the OGC.

I would therefore also
> strongly disagree to have you on an official role to represent OSGeo
> in the OGC.


As you know I personally appreciate your work and
> analytical thinking. But you have not proven to be very constructive

Really? You may not like the style, that is one thing. But to suggest 
that I have not been 'constructive' is fucking insulting. Read the mail. 
Note that it takes more than five minutes to read, perhaps because it 
has some content. See the criticism, then see the suggestions for 
addressing them. Does none of that make any sense? Does it not make you 
think a little about what is going on and how to make it better? Is 
every single statement really trivially dismissible as an 
'unconstructive' rant?

I have been working *a lot* on how to make things better. I am carrying 
forwards all the work of OWS Common because no one else is. The 
TC-Discuss mailing list emerged because I, for the fourth time, told 
Carl publicly that we need a forum to discuss TC wide issues. I am 
suggesting how to make forwards progress on REST by side-stepping the 
political discussions and exploring the solution space. I rewrote the 
document specifying how to write standards at the OGC because the 
document the board you sit on lacked sufficient coherency to be usable 
and that same board took no action I know of on the extensive comments I 
sent them. I persuaded two separate groups to significantly rewrite 
their documents to make them better written and then helped them with 
that task. So with all that, to say that I have not proven very 
constructive merely suggests you are out of touch with my work, with the 
current activity in the technical committee, and with the needs that are 
currently not being met at the OGC. Have you been to many SWG meetings 
in the past six months? Can you express any needs of those groups which 
are not currently being met? That is the kind of information which I 
have, and which I expressed.

Perhaps, you are not referring to my work at the OGC but to my activity 
in the current debacle. If so, again, the 'not proven very constructive' 
is a heap of shit. Ask Cameron what my position was and why he wanted to 
include it in the 'letter' from OSGeo membership even though it does not 
represent his own position. Who, in either the OSGeo or the OGC, played 
any role as intermediary between the opposing forces? I know there was 
no one else because, at the meetings of the SWG proposing the standard, 
I was the only one expressing the position of the dissenters. That I 
found a way to remove myself from taking a position on the vote suggests 
that I was trying to do something other than be destructive; that I 
tried to express empathy for the members of the SWG who were about to 
loose a lot of hard work suggests that I was perhaps thinking of actors 
on the two sides; that I responded to the incorrect criticisms that 
emerged on the OSGeo wiki suggests that I was trying to bring the 
discussion onto legitimate ground and away from the politically 
effective but erroneous. That I refused Cameron the right to republish 
my criticism of the OGC in a public forum because I thought it would 
need to be rewritten for public consumption, suggests that I was trying 
to be diplomatic. Finally, that I obliquely suggested a way out of the 
debacle, a way which was followed in the next fourty eight hours, 
suggests perhaps that I had some 'constructive' role to play.

So if 'sick' is all you have to go on to say that I have not been 
'constructive', then you are just wrong. My style is *way* more direct 
than most folk, and it is out in the open where others like to work 
behind the scenes. You may not like that, fine. But to fail to see all 
the work I have done to try to keep this debate productive is lazy ass 
horseshit on your part. For a standard I did not like and a voting 
process that does not concern me, I seem to have put in a fuck load of 
work writing emails, raising those same issues as formal comments the 
RFC process, and finally helping the SWG address some of those issues 
when they finally realized they needed to be addressed.

So not sufficiently 'diplomatic' I can accept; 'not ... constructive' 
seems so wrong as to suggest there is some other frustration at play.

> and your thinking is much too polarized to represent a
> broadest-possible-community umbrella as is the OSGeo. But I might be
> wrong and if the OSGeo board supports creating a new "leading" role
> for the OGC OSGeo liaison - so be it.

We are back to that 'liason' word which I actually know from French and 
which in that language merely describes any association between two 
entities, something like participating in one and then making a report 
every three months to the other, not something more formal which you 
seem to fear.

To assuage your fears, I hereby commit not to represent you or any other 
member of OSGeo other than myself on any position at the OGC. I further 
pledge not to even discuss the possibility of more effective roles for 
each organization to play within the framework of the other. Fuck it; I 
don't have the time for your stop energy.

> Having been active in the OGC for quite some time you should know that
> it is thoroughly member driven. So there is not much use telling Carl
> and Mark how to do things.They do not make the rules or the
 > standards, they just facilitate the process. If at all, then the TC
 > can come up with new ways of doing things.

My mail, as you will know if you actually read it carefully, is a direct 
response to Mark, the president of the OGC, who wrote a public letter to 
the OGC membership, publicly advocating for an outcome on a vote of the 
Technical Committee. In my response, presented on a forum in front of 
that same membership, I advocate that Mark, in order to address the 
concerns of the OGC, should use his influence as president in very 
specific ways namely: (1) to soothe the loosing party of the vote since 
the vote was incredibly divisive and (2) to influence the discussions 
with funders and the future plans of the OGC to help lead us past some 
of the technical obstacles currently blocking progress. Both are 
directly in line Mark's responsibilities as OGC president. I do not 
believe I suggested that Carl, the head of the TC, do anything in 
particular, except perhaps along the same lines.

And how exactly does the 'TC come up with new ways of doing things' 
short of discussion, proposals, and pleas for support from the head of 
the TC and the head of the organization?

> One role of the OAB is to
> keep track of these things and recommend the TC to look into issues.

Great. That could be helpful. Unfortunately, the OAB has, for now, 
failed in very specific ways, not the least of which is ensuring that it 
is properly elected. There are many other issues with the OAB but those 
should be discussed elsewhere, such as on 'TC-discuss'.

There is also an unwritten post-mortem to this whole story. The 
background to it all was that the 'leadership' at the OGC (president, 
board, OAB, ...) took the position that the OGC would be open to any 
standard document. This let ESRI believe they could standardize their 
system at the OGC. However, the leadership took that position without 
consultation with the membership. It turned out that there was 
significant opposition to the standard on many fronts including the 
notion that the OGC should become merely a place where any standard can 
be passed. The membership seems to value developing coherent, well 
designed, equally implementable standards rather than accepting any 
document specifying injunctions with geospatial content as a standard. 
As a result, the membership was at odds with the 'leadership' and spoke 
loudly in its opposition to the position. What should happen now, if the 
'leadership' were effectively self-aware, would be for that 'leadership' 
to ruminate on the events and consider that either its position was 
wrong, that its way of reaching its position was wrong, or that both the 
membership was wrong and the leadership had better figure out how to 
move the membership forwards. That will probably not happen but is what 
a good 'leadership' would be going through.

> Right now I am trying to get a "new way of dealing with standards" on
> the agenda. But this is an ongoing thing and a lot of work so no idea
> whether or when it will come to fruition.

Not sure what that may mean.

> I am not sure whether OSGeo can come up with a common position towards
> the OGC at all. Plus there is this total lack of support for the
> bridges we have built so far. As soon as some real work needs to be
> done everybody is busy with something else. If there is something to
> criticize in OGC then everybody is vocal and supportive. Until
> something really needs to be done. Personally this has been very
> frustrating to me (which is not really important but may help explain
> my lack of ecstasy wrt to the latest flames of activity).

This is apparently a mix of frustration, and other things that do not 
seem directly aimed at me. Just because everyone is ready to criticize 
does not make criticism invalid.

>> A second front might be to become more active on the Standards
>> Front.
> The five free OSGeo membership slots have so far never been put to
> good use except by Volker Mische. I cannot see why this would now
> change?

This seems more frustration, the dream that OSGeo would contribute more 
to the OGC. However, since the OGC membership contributes surprisingly 
little to the OGC even though most are paid to do so, I cannot expect 
that OSGeo members will do any more than that, volunteering their time 
for the pleasure.

> Plus - if we disagree with the way OGC does things - then why
> should we support that way of doing things? Michael put it together in
> a concise and accurate mail here:
> http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/standards/2012-October/000503.html

That seems to suggest that nothing can ever change. Perhaps I will get 
there some day. For now, I will keep hammering away at the OGC president 
that they justify the utility of their closed model *for the OGC 
membership*. I think it harms our work and so should change. But that is 
internal to the OGC.

> So if we (OSGeo as a whole, haha) believe that OGC needs to change
> then we have to come up with a model that works.

What? I am not sure this makes any sense. OSGeo has no responsibility to 
fix issues at the OGC.

> Just criticizing how
> it works now without taking all factors into account is, well, not
> really helpful, right?

Wrong. The 'taking all factors into account' is the work of the OGC. The 
'hey guys, something is wrong' is a useful role from the outside. A 
useful response of the OGC would be: 'hey, thanks for noticing. Yeah, we 
see the same issue and are trying to find a way to fix it. 
Unfortunately, we are dysfunctional in a particular way that blocks 
progress on that front so we are exploring ..."

> Please don't get me wrong, I really appreciate your work and think
> that you have a valuable perspective. This is more a word of caution
> that things will not work out as easily as it may first appear
> (speaking with the experience of a few years of frustration).
> Cheers,
> Arnulf

Well, I got you wrong. At least, I can see that your mail covers so much 
different ground, I suspect it is mixing things that should not get 
mixed. I get that you don't want any 'liaison' between the OSGeo and the 
OGC. I get that you did not like my calling the OGC 'sick' even if I 
suspect you remembered incorrectly where it happened. Calling my vocal 
efforts for diplomacy in the 'ESRI' candidate standard debacle and for 
change at the OGC 'not ... constructive' pisses me off but does not 
matter that much. So I'll ignore it for now.

And now, hoping this 'GeoServices REST API' debacle may finally be over, 
I will go back to work.


>> There has been some recent interest in OSGeo taking on some
>> Standards related activity, where certainly being vocal and
>> offering productive critiques could be productive. It may also
>> prove useful to do more. For example, I am planning to write up a
>> number of format standards in the next six months and so it might
>> make sense for me to develop some of them within OSGeo. The
>> standards would require buy in from this community anyhow, so
>> perhaps developing them here would give this community some more
>> leverage in the Standards game. I'll do the bulk of the work first
>> and then get back to you all on whether they make sense at OSGeo
>> and how they could start life here. In the interim, OSGeo might
>> consider how it could host 'standards focused projects' rather
>> than 'software focused projects' or 'community focused projects'.
>> I'm not sure that requires more work than agreeing it should be
>> allowed. It could be part of 'labs' to stay informal or some other
>> procedure might be invented.
>> cheers, ~adrian
>> On 5/31/13 8:25 AM, Jeff McKenna wrote:
>>> On 2013-05-30 5:57 PM, Michael Gerlek wrote:
>>>> Adrian showed himself to be a level-headed and rational
>>>> discoursant during the recent kerfuffle.
>>>> If Adrian is willing, I'd support a motion to put him in charge
>>>> of, or at least a member of, some sort of effort to engage with
>>>> OGC to find out the Best Way Forward for our two
>>>> organizations.
>>>> I think Arnulf and I are the current gatekeepers of OGC things,
>>>> such as it is; I'd of course be happy to continue to help here,
>>>> and I'm sure Arnulf would too.
>>> I strongly agree with this plan.  The recent happenings have
>>> seemed to bring the OGC and OSGeo closer, and I feel Adrian can
>>> really help us communicate.
>>> -jeff
>> _______________________________________________ Discuss mailing
>> list Discuss at lists.osgeo.org
>> http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
> - --
> Exploring Space, Time and Mind
> http://arnulf.us
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