OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

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OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

Darrell Fuhriman
The recent discussion on the board list that came out of the question of the 2014 videos has got me thinking about a few things again, and I want to try to get them out there.

Grab a mug of your favorite liquid and hunker down, because I put some time and effort into this, and your own well considered reply is appreciated.

Keep in mind that all of these comments are coming from my personal perspective, which, like everyone’s, is an incomplete picture of the whole. Much of what I’m going to say has been rolling around my head for a while, so I’m just going to put it out there.

I will start with a provocative thesis:

OSGeo lacks visionary unified leadership and without it will become irrelevant.

Of course, making such a claim requires support. So let me break down the statement.

“Visionary leadership” is really two things, “vision” and “leadership.” I will address each in turn.

OSGeo lacks vision

I looked at the list of “Goals” for OSGeo. I wonder: when was the last time these goals were evaluated for both success and relevancy?

Here is my own opinion of success of some of  these goals. (In the interest of brevity, I haven’t tried to tackle everything. That’s left as an exercise to the reader.)

Example 1

To provide resources for foundation projects - eg. infrastructure, funding, legal.

Allow me to break each of those examples down.

Infrastructure

It’s true that OSGeo provides some infrastructure, such as Trac instance, Mailman, SVN repos. If the budget is to be believed, we pay some $3,500/yr to OSUOSL for said infrastructure. I wonder if such a service is necessary, however. Issue tracking and source control are much better provided by Github, which is free for organization such as ours.
I say this because a) that’s money that could be better spent elsewhere and b) supporting these services burns precious volunteer time (more on that below).

There are clear cost savings available, which are not taken advantage of. For example, OSGeo could be hosting FOSS4G infrastructure: conference websites and registration, a central location for conference videos (regardless of platform/provider). This neglect is especially galling given that FOSS4G is OSGeo’s sole source of income.

Funding

OSGeo does not fund projects. It has provided some funds to pay for Code Sprints — $15k in 2014 according to the budget.

Legal

I see nothing that has been done on this front recently. Please feel free to correct me.

Conclusion

OSGeo, where it actually does what it claims, has not adapted in ways that could save money.

My grade: D

Example 2

To promote freely available geodata - free software is useless without data.

The geodata working group is dead. As near as I can tell by perusing the mailing list archives, and the wiki, there has been no meaningful activity in the past two years (maybe more).

My grade: F

Example 3

To promote the use of open source software in the geospatial industry (not just foundation software) - eg. PR, training, outreach.

The Board of Directors page says:

Packaging and Marketing

OSGeo’s marketing effort has primarily been focused around the packaging and documentation efforts of OSGeo-Live, and to a lesser extend[sic], osgeo4w. […] It has been entirely driven by volunteer labour, with 140 OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been covered by local events or sponsors. In the last couple of years, OSGeo has covered local chapter expenses required to purchase non-consumable items for conference booths (such as a retractable banner). In moving forward, OSGeo hope to extend marketing reach by providing co-contributions toward printing costs of consumable items at conferences, such as toward OSGeo-Live DVDs.

Local Chapters

Much of OSGeo’s marketing initiates are applied at the local level. In many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email list and wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering to pay for an Exhibition starter pack for local chapters. Local chapters are also usually the coordinators of conferences and related events, as mentioned above.

Exhibition starter packs almost never happen; OSGeo-Live explicitly gets no support; and OSGeo struggles to staff a booth at its own conference to say nothing of any other conferences.

Note: Local chapters certainly do do marketing and outreach, but these efforts are essentially unsupported by the OSGeo Foundation. In fact, this goal and the Board of Directors webpage seem to be explicitly contradictory.

My grade: F.

Commentary

I could go on with my own personal evaluations, but I’m not sure that’s necessary. The only place I see that OSGeo has unquestionably succeeded in the past few years is the final goal, “To award the Sol Katz award for service to the OSGeo community”.

So, what’s my point here? It’s simple: there is no longer a coherent vision for what OSGeo should be. I’ll return to that below, but let me continue with my other point.

OSGeo lacks leadership

Again quoting the Board of Directors’ page:

The board’s primary responsibility is to efficiently and effectively make strategic decisions related to the running of OSGeo.

I won’t bore you with the details, but a perusal of the board meeting minutes would indicate that strategy is rarely, if ever, a part of the meetings.

The emphasis on consensus-based decision making often leads to no decisions being made. I can’t count the number of discussions that have come up on the board list only to devolve into a morass of nit-picking and eventual lack of action when everyone tires of the discussion. What action that is taken is often to “delegate” to a (possibly inactive) sub-committee, then never follow up.

Instead what we have is a great deal of inertia, little interest in changing things, and no clear indication of what the Board’s priorities are.

If priorities do exist, they’re lost in a maze of confusing, incomplete and often contradictory information on the wiki. (Wikis — like abandonware for documentation.)

On pending irrelevancy

I encourage you to ask some random people in the open source geospatial community what OSGeo means to them. I would make a bet that the most common answer is a blank stare.

I would ask the board members to come up with three things, other than FOSS4G, where the OSGeo membership has shown its importance to the community as a whole in the last two years. Something where people say, “Did you hear about [exciting thing] OSGeo is doing on X?” To be clear, I don’t mean just things that OSGeo has a finger in, but things that need OSGeo. If OSGeo disappeared tomorrow, would any of these projects be significantly affected?

I don’t think it can be done. The OSGeo Foundation is sliding into irrelevancy — and it may already be there.

If anything should be seen as strategic for OSGeo, it’s FOSS4G, the foundation’s primary (sole?) source of income. Even regarding its flagship public event, the board is largely absent. Rather than provide adequate resources and planning, they instead rely on burning out volunteers, then make post-hoc demands on the way they should have done it, provide no future support for organizers to heed those demands, rarely follow up, then go on to repeat the same mistakes the following year.  Honestly, it’s surprising that FOSS4G has failed only once. (I think this is a reflection of the demand for the conference, not the blazing competence of OSGeo.)

Michael Gerlek brought this up on the osgeo-discuss list in July, and probably has a more generous spin on it. He essentially argues that it’s time to declare mission accomplished and shut down or rebooted. I agree with his points, and I’m arguing that OSGeo can have something to offer, but it will require a major re-think of its mission.

Fixing things

I hinted at this in my recent questions to the board candidates, but I want to be explicit here: OSGeo needs to evolve or die.

Here’s how I would do it:

  1. The board needs to evaluate all of its goals, as defined on the About page, to decide if they are still truly goals. Define any new goals.

  2. Ask the question: “What does it mean to succeed at this goal?”

If the goal is vague, or ongoing, give a timeline: “What does success look like for this goal one year from now?”

  1. Create measureable objectives for achieving those goals. Ask the question, “How will we know if we’ve succeeded?”

  2. Prioritize the goals.

  3. Allocate resources to the goals.

Obviously this is a tricky one, but I think we can look at this a balance between Importance and Effort.


Spend money to reduce to the effort required, more money if the goal is more important — this might be the hardest cultural shift. Volunteer time is precious and easily discouraged. Make sure that you make it as efficient as possible by spending money when you can.


For example, many of the infrastructure services OSGeo provides can be easily outsourced to more featureful services that are more responsive and rely less on volunteer labor.

  1. Close the loop on tasks. When a task is delegated to a committee or individual, track its progress, both to know that it is or isn’t happening, and to be able to acknowledge and incorporate the work when it’s done. Failing to acknowledge people’s labor or to use the results of that labor will virtually guarantee that the volunteer does not continue to help.

  2. Evaluate success and failure.  GOTO 1.

Aside: none if this will happen without a strong executive. Whether that position is paid or not is up to the board, but it’s clear that there needs to be someone who can make decisions without endless rounds of fruitless discussions. The board as currently constituted is not dysfunctional, but it is mostly afunctional.

I’m will go so far as to suggest this: Fly every board member who is available to a two or three day retreat. Get everyone in the same room, a professional facilitator to speed the process, then figure out what OSGeo is going to be and how to get there. Don’t fret excessively about the expense — this isn’t about saving money, it’s about saving OSGeo.

If you ask me, irrelevancy is a fate worse than death. Be bold! It’s better to try to do something big and new then fail than to simply fade away and be forgotten.

Though my comments above may sound harsh, they are sent with the very best of intentions. I want OSGeo to succeed, but OSGeo is never going to succeed if it doesn’t know what it’s try to succeed at. Without real reform, I don’t see success happening, just irrelevance. Here’s hoping this gets the ball rolling.

Darrell


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Re: OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

Milo van der Linden-5

Being a "don't talk, act" member since 2008, entrepreneur and former chairman of a couple of local initiatives, I strongly agree.

Seeing all the "empty talkers" from my country run for charter membership and still not having geoserver, which is the most mature open geospatial product I can think of pas incubation made me completely lose interest in OSGeo.

I am disappointed, a little frustrated and plotting a business course that values open source and open knowledge. OSGeo or any in-crowd will have no part in my future.

Thank you for your honest and to the point analyses.

Milo

On Sep 25, 2015 21:58, "Darrell Fuhriman" <[hidden email]> wrote:
The recent discussion on the board list that came out of the question of the 2014 videos has got me thinking about a few things again, and I want to try to get them out there.

Grab a mug of your favorite liquid and hunker down, because I put some time and effort into this, and your own well considered reply is appreciated.

Keep in mind that all of these comments are coming from my personal perspective, which, like everyone’s, is an incomplete picture of the whole. Much of what I’m going to say has been rolling around my head for a while, so I’m just going to put it out there.

I will start with a provocative thesis:

OSGeo lacks visionary unified leadership and without it will become irrelevant.

Of course, making such a claim requires support. So let me break down the statement.

“Visionary leadership” is really two things, “vision” and “leadership.” I will address each in turn.

OSGeo lacks vision

I looked at the list of “Goals” for OSGeo. I wonder: when was the last time these goals were evaluated for both success and relevancy?

Here is my own opinion of success of some of  these goals. (In the interest of brevity, I haven’t tried to tackle everything. That’s left as an exercise to the reader.)

Example 1

To provide resources for foundation projects - eg. infrastructure, funding, legal.

Allow me to break each of those examples down.

Infrastructure

It’s true that OSGeo provides some infrastructure, such as Trac instance, Mailman, SVN repos. If the budget is to be believed, we pay some $3,500/yr to OSUOSL for said infrastructure. I wonder if such a service is necessary, however. Issue tracking and source control are much better provided by Github, which is free for organization such as ours.
I say this because a) that’s money that could be better spent elsewhere and b) supporting these services burns precious volunteer time (more on that below).

There are clear cost savings available, which are not taken advantage of. For example, OSGeo could be hosting FOSS4G infrastructure: conference websites and registration, a central location for conference videos (regardless of platform/provider). This neglect is especially galling given that FOSS4G is OSGeo’s sole source of income.

Funding

OSGeo does not fund projects. It has provided some funds to pay for Code Sprints — $15k in 2014 according to the budget.

Legal

I see nothing that has been done on this front recently. Please feel free to correct me.

Conclusion

OSGeo, where it actually does what it claims, has not adapted in ways that could save money.

My grade: D

Example 2

To promote freely available geodata - free software is useless without data.

The geodata working group is dead. As near as I can tell by perusing the mailing list archives, and the wiki, there has been no meaningful activity in the past two years (maybe more).

My grade: F

Example 3

To promote the use of open source software in the geospatial industry (not just foundation software) - eg. PR, training, outreach.

The Board of Directors page says:

Packaging and Marketing

OSGeo’s marketing effort has primarily been focused around the packaging and documentation efforts of OSGeo-Live, and to a lesser extend[sic], osgeo4w. […] It has been entirely driven by volunteer labour, with 140 OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been covered by local events or sponsors. In the last couple of years, OSGeo has covered local chapter expenses required to purchase non-consumable items for conference booths (such as a retractable banner). In moving forward, OSGeo hope to extend marketing reach by providing co-contributions toward printing costs of consumable items at conferences, such as toward OSGeo-Live DVDs.

Local Chapters

Much of OSGeo’s marketing initiates are applied at the local level. In many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email list and wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering to pay for an Exhibition starter pack for local chapters. Local chapters are also usually the coordinators of conferences and related events, as mentioned above.

Exhibition starter packs almost never happen; OSGeo-Live explicitly gets no support; and OSGeo struggles to staff a booth at its own conference to say nothing of any other conferences.

Note: Local chapters certainly do do marketing and outreach, but these efforts are essentially unsupported by the OSGeo Foundation. In fact, this goal and the Board of Directors webpage seem to be explicitly contradictory.

My grade: F.

Commentary

I could go on with my own personal evaluations, but I’m not sure that’s necessary. The only place I see that OSGeo has unquestionably succeeded in the past few years is the final goal, “To award the Sol Katz award for service to the OSGeo community”.

So, what’s my point here? It’s simple: there is no longer a coherent vision for what OSGeo should be. I’ll return to that below, but let me continue with my other point.

OSGeo lacks leadership

Again quoting the Board of Directors’ page:

The board’s primary responsibility is to efficiently and effectively make strategic decisions related to the running of OSGeo.

I won’t bore you with the details, but a perusal of the board meeting minutes would indicate that strategy is rarely, if ever, a part of the meetings.

The emphasis on consensus-based decision making often leads to no decisions being made. I can’t count the number of discussions that have come up on the board list only to devolve into a morass of nit-picking and eventual lack of action when everyone tires of the discussion. What action that is taken is often to “delegate” to a (possibly inactive) sub-committee, then never follow up.

Instead what we have is a great deal of inertia, little interest in changing things, and no clear indication of what the Board’s priorities are.

If priorities do exist, they’re lost in a maze of confusing, incomplete and often contradictory information on the wiki. (Wikis — like abandonware for documentation.)

On pending irrelevancy

I encourage you to ask some random people in the open source geospatial community what OSGeo means to them. I would make a bet that the most common answer is a blank stare.

I would ask the board members to come up with three things, other than FOSS4G, where the OSGeo membership has shown its importance to the community as a whole in the last two years. Something where people say, “Did you hear about [exciting thing] OSGeo is doing on X?” To be clear, I don’t mean just things that OSGeo has a finger in, but things that need OSGeo. If OSGeo disappeared tomorrow, would any of these projects be significantly affected?

I don’t think it can be done. The OSGeo Foundation is sliding into irrelevancy — and it may already be there.

If anything should be seen as strategic for OSGeo, it’s FOSS4G, the foundation’s primary (sole?) source of income. Even regarding its flagship public event, the board is largely absent. Rather than provide adequate resources and planning, they instead rely on burning out volunteers, then make post-hoc demands on the way they should have done it, provide no future support for organizers to heed those demands, rarely follow up, then go on to repeat the same mistakes the following year.  Honestly, it’s surprising that FOSS4G has failed only once. (I think this is a reflection of the demand for the conference, not the blazing competence of OSGeo.)

Michael Gerlek brought this up on the osgeo-discuss list in July, and probably has a more generous spin on it. He essentially argues that it’s time to declare mission accomplished and shut down or rebooted. I agree with his points, and I’m arguing that OSGeo can have something to offer, but it will require a major re-think of its mission.

Fixing things

I hinted at this in my recent questions to the board candidates, but I want to be explicit here: OSGeo needs to evolve or die.

Here’s how I would do it:

  1. The board needs to evaluate all of its goals, as defined on the About page, to decide if they are still truly goals. Define any new goals.

  2. Ask the question: “What does it mean to succeed at this goal?”

If the goal is vague, or ongoing, give a timeline: “What does success look like for this goal one year from now?”

  1. Create measureable objectives for achieving those goals. Ask the question, “How will we know if we’ve succeeded?”

  2. Prioritize the goals.

  3. Allocate resources to the goals.

Obviously this is a tricky one, but I think we can look at this a balance between Importance and Effort.


Spend money to reduce to the effort required, more money if the goal is more important — this might be the hardest cultural shift. Volunteer time is precious and easily discouraged. Make sure that you make it as efficient as possible by spending money when you can.


For example, many of the infrastructure services OSGeo provides can be easily outsourced to more featureful services that are more responsive and rely less on volunteer labor.

  1. Close the loop on tasks. When a task is delegated to a committee or individual, track its progress, both to know that it is or isn’t happening, and to be able to acknowledge and incorporate the work when it’s done. Failing to acknowledge people’s labor or to use the results of that labor will virtually guarantee that the volunteer does not continue to help.

  2. Evaluate success and failure.  GOTO 1.

Aside: none if this will happen without a strong executive. Whether that position is paid or not is up to the board, but it’s clear that there needs to be someone who can make decisions without endless rounds of fruitless discussions. The board as currently constituted is not dysfunctional, but it is mostly afunctional.

I’m will go so far as to suggest this: Fly every board member who is available to a two or three day retreat. Get everyone in the same room, a professional facilitator to speed the process, then figure out what OSGeo is going to be and how to get there. Don’t fret excessively about the expense — this isn’t about saving money, it’s about saving OSGeo.

If you ask me, irrelevancy is a fate worse than death. Be bold! It’s better to try to do something big and new then fail than to simply fade away and be forgotten.

Though my comments above may sound harsh, they are sent with the very best of intentions. I want OSGeo to succeed, but OSGeo is never going to succeed if it doesn’t know what it’s try to succeed at. Without real reform, I don’t see success happening, just irrelevance. Here’s hoping this gets the ball rolling.

Darrell


_______________________________________________
Discuss mailing list
[hidden email]
http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss

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Re: OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

Stephen Woodbridge
In reply to this post by Darrell Fuhriman
Darrell,

Thank you for you assessment, I think this is a great call for action
and it puts words to a lot of my feelings about OSGeo.

If you look at most of the successful projects they are driven by
someone with vision and passion that pulls in others to work toward
concrete goals.

If you take the structure of a successful project (ie: the process, PSC,
voting, etc) and apply it to project that does not have the leadership,
it does not make it successful. OSGeo feels like this later case.

For OSGeo to be relevant to me, it needs to be more about what OSGeo is
doing for its members and helping it members be successful and
profitable so they are invested in growing and sustaining OSGeo, rather
than what can I do for OSGeo. If OSGeo is not helping the projects that
I care about and/or helping me grow my business (this can be as simple
as brand marketing so my clients are aware of the value of working with
someone that is part of OSGeo), then what is it doing?

If OSGeo didn't exist, it is not clear to me that the projects would
suffer greatly, with the exception that FOSSG has been successful.

I'm not say that everything is bad, but I think a realistic reassessment
is needed and maybe a total overhaul should be on the table.

Thanks,
   -Steve

On 9/25/2015 3:57 PM, Darrell Fuhriman wrote:

> The recent discussion on the board list
> <https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2015-September/013172.html>that
> came out of the question of the 2014 videos has got me thinking about a
> few things again, and I want to try to get them out there.
>
> Grab a mug of your favorite liquid and hunker down, because I put some
> time and effort into this, and your own well considered reply is
> appreciated.
>
> Keep in mind that all of these comments are coming from my personal
> perspective, which, like everyone’s, is an incomplete picture of the
> whole. Much of what I’m going to say has been rolling around my head for
> a while, so I’m just going to put it out there.
>
> I will start with a provocative thesis:
>
> OSGeo lacks visionary unified leadership and without it will become
> irrelevant.
>
> Of course, making such a claim requires support. So let me break down
> the statement.
>
> “Visionary leadership” is really two things, “vision” and “leadership.”
> I will address each in turn.
>
>
>     OSGeo lacks vision
>
> I looked at the list of “Goals” for OSGeo
> <http://www.osgeo.org/content/foundation/about.html>. I wonder: when was
> the last time these goals were evaluated for both success and relevancy?
>
> Here is my own opinion of success of some of  these goals. (In the
> interest of brevity, I haven’t tried to tackle everything. That’s left
> as an exercise to the reader.)
>
>
>       Example 1
>
> To provide resources for foundation projects - eg. infrastructure,
> funding, legal.
>
> Allow me to break each of those examples down.
>
>
>         Infrastructure
>
> It’s true that OSGeo provides some infrastructure, such as Trac
> instance, Mailman, SVN repos. If the budget is to be believed, we pay
> some $3,500/yr to OSUOSL for said infrastructure. I wonder if such a
> service is necessary, however. Issue tracking and source control are
> much better provided by Github, which is free for organization such as ours.
> I say this because a) that’s money that could be better spent elsewhere
> and b) supporting these services burns precious volunteer time (more on
> that below).
>
> There are clear cost savings available, which are not taken advantage
> of. For example, OSGeo could be hosting FOSS4G infrastructure:
> conference websites and registration, a central location for conference
> videos (regardless of platform/provider). This neglect is especially
> galling given that FOSS4G is OSGeo’s sole source of income.
>
>
>         Funding
>
> OSGeo does not fund projects. It has provided some funds to pay for Code
> Sprints — $15k in 2014 according to the budget
> <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/OSGeo_Budget_2014>.
>
>
>         Legal
>
> I see nothing that has been done on this front recently. Please feel
> free to correct me.
>
>
>         Conclusion
>
> OSGeo, where it actually does what it claims, has not adapted in ways
> that could save money.
>
> My grade: D
>
>
>     Example 2
>
> To promote freely available geodata - free software is useless without data.
>
> The geodata working group is dead. As near as I can tell by perusing the
> mailing list archives, and the wiki, there has been no meaningful
> activity in the past two years (maybe more).
>
> My grade: F
>
>
>     Example 3
>
> To promote the use of open source software in the geospatial industry
> (not just foundation software) - eg. PR, training, outreach.
>
> The Board of Directors
> <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Board_of_Directors#Packaging_and_Marketing>page
> says:
>
>
>         Packaging and Marketing
>
> OSGeo’s marketing effort has primarily been focused around the packaging
> and documentation efforts of OSGeo-Live, and to a lesser extend[sic],
> osgeo4w. […] It has been entirely driven by volunteer labour, with 140
> OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been covered by local
> events or sponsors. In the last couple of years, OSGeo has covered local
> chapter expenses required to purchase non-consumable items for
> conference booths (such as a retractable banner). In moving forward,
> OSGeo hope to extend marketing reach by providing co-contributions
> toward printing costs of consumable items at conferences, such as toward
> OSGeo-Live DVDs.
>
>
>         Local Chapters
>
> Much of OSGeo’s marketing initiates are applied at the local level. In
> many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email list
> and wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering to pay for
> an Exhibition starter pack for local chapters. Local chapters are also
> usually the coordinators of conferences and related events, as mentioned
> above.
>
> Exhibition starter packs almost never happen; OSGeo-Live explicitlygets
> no support; and OSGeo struggles to staff a booth at its own conferenceto
> say nothing of any other conferences.
>
> Note: Local chapters certainly do do marketing and outreach, but these
> efforts are essentially unsupported by the OSGeo Foundation. In fact,
> this goal and the Board of Directors webpage seem to be explicitly
> contradictory.
>
> My grade: F.
>
>
>       Commentary
>
> I could go on with my own personal evaluations, but I’m not sure that’s
> necessary. The only place I see that OSGeo has unquestionably succeeded
> in the past few years is the final goal, “To award the Sol Katz award
> for service to the OSGeo community”.
>
> So, what’s my point here? It’s simple: there is no longer a coherent
> vision for what OSGeo should be. I’ll return to that below, but let me
> continue with my other point.
>
>
>     OSGeo lacks leadership
>
> Again quoting the Board of Directors’ page:
>
> The board’s primary responsibility is to efficiently and effectively
> make strategic decisions related to the running of OSGeo.
>
> I won’t bore you with the details, but a perusal of the board meeting
> minutes would indicate that strategyis rarely, if ever, a part of the
> meetings.
>
> The emphasis on consensus-based decision making often leads to no
> decisions being made. I can’t count the number of discussions that have
> come up on the board list only to devolve into a morass of nit-picking
> and eventual lack of action when everyone tires of the discussion. What
> action that is taken is often to “delegate” to a (possibly inactive)
> sub-committee, then never follow up.
>
> Instead what we have is a great deal of inertia, little interest in
> changing things, and no clear indication of what the Board’s priorities are.
>
> If priorities do exist, they’re lost in a maze of confusing, incomplete
> and often contradictory information on the wiki. (Wikis — like
> abandonware for documentation.)
>
>
>     On pending irrelevancy
>
> I encourage you to ask some random people in the open source geospatial
> community what OSGeo means to them. I would make a bet that the most
> common answer is a blank stare.
>
> I would ask the board members to come up with three things, other than
> FOSS4G, where the OSGeo membership has shown its importance to the
> community as a wholein the last two years. Something where people say,
> “Did you hear about[exciting thing]OSGeo is doing on X?” To be clear, I
> don’t mean just things that OSGeo has a finger in, but things that
> needOSGeo. If OSGeo disappeared tomorrow, would any of these projects be
> significantly affected?
>
> I don’t think it can be done. The OSGeo Foundation is sliding into
> irrelevancy — and it may already be there.
>
> If anything should be seen as strategic for OSGeo, it’s FOSS4G, the
> foundation’s primary (sole?) source of income. Even regarding its
> flagship public event, the board is largely absent. Rather than provide
> adequate resources and planning, they instead rely on burning out
> volunteers, then make post-hoc demands on the way they shouldhave done
> it, provide no future support for organizers to heed those demands,
> rarely follow up, then go on to repeat the same mistakes the following
> year.  Honestly, it’s surprising that FOSS4G has failed only once. (I
> think this is a reflection of the demand for the conference, not the
> blazing competence of OSGeo.)
>
> Michael Gerlek brought this up
> <https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-July/014521.html>on the
> osgeo-discuss list in July, and probably has a more generous spin on it.
> He essentially argues that it’s time to declare mission accomplished and
> shut down or rebooted. I agree with his points, and I’m arguing that
> OSGeo can have something to offer, but it will require a major re-think
> of its mission.
>
>
>     Fixing things
>
> I hinted at this in my recent questions to the board candidates, but I
> want to be explicit here: OSGeo needs to evolve or die.
>
> Here’s how I would do it:
>
>  1.
>
>     The board needs to evaluate all of its goals, as defined on the
>     About page, to decide if they are still truly goals. Define any new
>     goals.
>
>  2.
>
>     Ask the question: “What does it mean to succeed at this goal?”
>
>     If the goal is vague, or ongoing, give a timeline: “What does
>     success look like for this goal one year from now?”
>
>  3.
>
>     Create measureable objectives for achieving those goals. Ask the
>     question, “How will we know if we’ve succeeded?”
>
>  4.
>
>     Prioritize the goals.
>
>  5.
>
>     Allocate resources to the goals.
>
>     Obviously this is a tricky one, but I think we can look at this a
>     balance between Importance and Effort.
>
>
>     Spend money to reduce to the effort required, more money if the goal
>     is more important — this might be the hardest cultural shift.
>     Volunteer time is precious and easily discouraged. Make sure that
>     you make it as efficient as possible by spending money when you can.
>
>
>     For example, many of the infrastructure services OSGeo provides can
>     be easily outsourced to more featureful services that are more
>     responsive and rely less on volunteer labor.
>
>  6.
>
>     Close the loop on tasks. When a task is delegated to a committee or
>     individual, track its progress, both to know that it is or isn’t
>     happening, and to be able to acknowledge and incorporate the work
>     when it’s done. Failing to acknowledge people’s labor or to use the
>     results of that labor will virtually guarantee that the volunteer
>     does not continue to help.
>
>  7.
>
>     Evaluate success and failure.  GOTO 1.
>
> Aside: none if this will happen without a strong executive. Whether that
> position is paid or not is up to the board, but it’s clear that there
> needs to be someone who can make decisions without endless rounds of
> fruitless discussions. The board as currently constituted is not
> dysfunctional, but it is mostly afunctional.
>
> I’m will go so far as to suggest this: Fly every board member who is
> available to a two or three day retreat. Get everyone in the same room,
> a professional facilitator to speed the process, then figure out what
> OSGeo is going to be and how to get there. Don’t fret excessively about
> the expense — this isn’t about saving money, it’s about saving OSGeo.
>
> If you ask me, irrelevancy is a fate worse than death. Be bold!It’s
> better to try to do something big and new then fail than to simply fade
> away and be forgotten.
>
> Though my comments above may sound harsh, they are sent with the very
> best of intentions. I want OSGeo to succeed, but OSGeo is never going to
> succeed if it doesn’t know what it’s try to succeed at.Without real
> reform, I don’t see success happening, just irrelevance. Here’s hoping
> this gets the ball rolling.
>
> Darrell
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
>

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Re: OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

Bart van den Eijnden (OSGIS)-2
In reply to this post by Milo van der Linden-5
To at least have facts straight, GeoServer passed incubation in 2013


Bart

Sent from my iPhone

On 26 sep. 2015, at 00:12, Milo van der Linden <[hidden email]> wrote:

Being a "don't talk, act" member since 2008, entrepreneur and former chairman of a couple of local initiatives, I strongly agree.

Seeing all the "empty talkers" from my country run for charter membership and still not having geoserver, which is the most mature open geospatial product I can think of pas incubation made me completely lose interest in OSGeo.

I am disappointed, a little frustrated and plotting a business course that values open source and open knowledge. OSGeo or any in-crowd will have no part in my future.

Thank you for your honest and to the point analyses.

Milo

On Sep 25, 2015 21:58, "Darrell Fuhriman" <[hidden email]> wrote:
The recent discussion on the board list that came out of the question of the 2014 videos has got me thinking about a few things again, and I want to try to get them out there.

Grab a mug of your favorite liquid and hunker down, because I put some time and effort into this, and your own well considered reply is appreciated.

Keep in mind that all of these comments are coming from my personal perspective, which, like everyone’s, is an incomplete picture of the whole. Much of what I’m going to say has been rolling around my head for a while, so I’m just going to put it out there.

I will start with a provocative thesis:

OSGeo lacks visionary unified leadership and without it will become irrelevant.

Of course, making such a claim requires support. So let me break down the statement.

“Visionary leadership” is really two things, “vision” and “leadership.” I will address each in turn.

OSGeo lacks vision

I looked at the list of “Goals” for OSGeo. I wonder: when was the last time these goals were evaluated for both success and relevancy?

Here is my own opinion of success of some of  these goals. (In the interest of brevity, I haven’t tried to tackle everything. That’s left as an exercise to the reader.)

Example 1

To provide resources for foundation projects - eg. infrastructure, funding, legal.

Allow me to break each of those examples down.

Infrastructure

It’s true that OSGeo provides some infrastructure, such as Trac instance, Mailman, SVN repos. If the budget is to be believed, we pay some $3,500/yr to OSUOSL for said infrastructure. I wonder if such a service is necessary, however. Issue tracking and source control are much better provided by Github, which is free for organization such as ours.
I say this because a) that’s money that could be better spent elsewhere and b) supporting these services burns precious volunteer time (more on that below).

There are clear cost savings available, which are not taken advantage of. For example, OSGeo could be hosting FOSS4G infrastructure: conference websites and registration, a central location for conference videos (regardless of platform/provider). This neglect is especially galling given that FOSS4G is OSGeo’s sole source of income.

Funding

OSGeo does not fund projects. It has provided some funds to pay for Code Sprints — $15k in 2014 according to the budget.

Legal

I see nothing that has been done on this front recently. Please feel free to correct me.

Conclusion

OSGeo, where it actually does what it claims, has not adapted in ways that could save money.

My grade: D

Example 2

To promote freely available geodata - free software is useless without data.

The geodata working group is dead. As near as I can tell by perusing the mailing list archives, and the wiki, there has been no meaningful activity in the past two years (maybe more).

My grade: F

Example 3

To promote the use of open source software in the geospatial industry (not just foundation software) - eg. PR, training, outreach.

The Board of Directors page says:

Packaging and Marketing

OSGeo’s marketing effort has primarily been focused around the packaging and documentation efforts of OSGeo-Live, and to a lesser extend[sic], osgeo4w. […] It has been entirely driven by volunteer labour, with 140 OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been covered by local events or sponsors. In the last couple of years, OSGeo has covered local chapter expenses required to purchase non-consumable items for conference booths (such as a retractable banner). In moving forward, OSGeo hope to extend marketing reach by providing co-contributions toward printing costs of consumable items at conferences, such as toward OSGeo-Live DVDs.

Local Chapters

Much of OSGeo’s marketing initiates are applied at the local level. In many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email list and wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering to pay for an Exhibition starter pack for local chapters. Local chapters are also usually the coordinators of conferences and related events, as mentioned above.

Exhibition starter packs almost never happen; OSGeo-Live explicitly gets no support; and OSGeo struggles to staff a booth at its own conference to say nothing of any other conferences.

Note: Local chapters certainly do do marketing and outreach, but these efforts are essentially unsupported by the OSGeo Foundation. In fact, this goal and the Board of Directors webpage seem to be explicitly contradictory.

My grade: F.

Commentary

I could go on with my own personal evaluations, but I’m not sure that’s necessary. The only place I see that OSGeo has unquestionably succeeded in the past few years is the final goal, “To award the Sol Katz award for service to the OSGeo community”.

So, what’s my point here? It’s simple: there is no longer a coherent vision for what OSGeo should be. I’ll return to that below, but let me continue with my other point.

OSGeo lacks leadership

Again quoting the Board of Directors’ page:

The board’s primary responsibility is to efficiently and effectively make strategic decisions related to the running of OSGeo.

I won’t bore you with the details, but a perusal of the board meeting minutes would indicate that strategy is rarely, if ever, a part of the meetings.

The emphasis on consensus-based decision making often leads to no decisions being made. I can’t count the number of discussions that have come up on the board list only to devolve into a morass of nit-picking and eventual lack of action when everyone tires of the discussion. What action that is taken is often to “delegate” to a (possibly inactive) sub-committee, then never follow up.

Instead what we have is a great deal of inertia, little interest in changing things, and no clear indication of what the Board’s priorities are.

If priorities do exist, they’re lost in a maze of confusing, incomplete and often contradictory information on the wiki. (Wikis — like abandonware for documentation.)

On pending irrelevancy

I encourage you to ask some random people in the open source geospatial community what OSGeo means to them. I would make a bet that the most common answer is a blank stare.

I would ask the board members to come up with three things, other than FOSS4G, where the OSGeo membership has shown its importance to the community as a whole in the last two years. Something where people say, “Did you hear about [exciting thing] OSGeo is doing on X?” To be clear, I don’t mean just things that OSGeo has a finger in, but things that need OSGeo. If OSGeo disappeared tomorrow, would any of these projects be significantly affected?

I don’t think it can be done. The OSGeo Foundation is sliding into irrelevancy — and it may already be there.

If anything should be seen as strategic for OSGeo, it’s FOSS4G, the foundation’s primary (sole?) source of income. Even regarding its flagship public event, the board is largely absent. Rather than provide adequate resources and planning, they instead rely on burning out volunteers, then make post-hoc demands on the way they should have done it, provide no future support for organizers to heed those demands, rarely follow up, then go on to repeat the same mistakes the following year.  Honestly, it’s surprising that FOSS4G has failed only once. (I think this is a reflection of the demand for the conference, not the blazing competence of OSGeo.)

Michael Gerlek brought this up on the osgeo-discuss list in July, and probably has a more generous spin on it. He essentially argues that it’s time to declare mission accomplished and shut down or rebooted. I agree with his points, and I’m arguing that OSGeo can have something to offer, but it will require a major re-think of its mission.

Fixing things

I hinted at this in my recent questions to the board candidates, but I want to be explicit here: OSGeo needs to evolve or die.

Here’s how I would do it:

  1. The board needs to evaluate all of its goals, as defined on the About page, to decide if they are still truly goals. Define any new goals.

  2. Ask the question: “What does it mean to succeed at this goal?”

If the goal is vague, or ongoing, give a timeline: “What does success look like for this goal one year from now?”

  1. Create measureable objectives for achieving those goals. Ask the question, “How will we know if we’ve succeeded?”

  2. Prioritize the goals.

  3. Allocate resources to the goals.

Obviously this is a tricky one, but I think we can look at this a balance between Importance and Effort.


Spend money to reduce to the effort required, more money if the goal is more important — this might be the hardest cultural shift. Volunteer time is precious and easily discouraged. Make sure that you make it as efficient as possible by spending money when you can.


For example, many of the infrastructure services OSGeo provides can be easily outsourced to more featureful services that are more responsive and rely less on volunteer labor.

  1. Close the loop on tasks. When a task is delegated to a committee or individual, track its progress, both to know that it is or isn’t happening, and to be able to acknowledge and incorporate the work when it’s done. Failing to acknowledge people’s labor or to use the results of that labor will virtually guarantee that the volunteer does not continue to help.

  2. Evaluate success and failure.  GOTO 1.

Aside: none if this will happen without a strong executive. Whether that position is paid or not is up to the board, but it’s clear that there needs to be someone who can make decisions without endless rounds of fruitless discussions. The board as currently constituted is not dysfunctional, but it is mostly afunctional.

I’m will go so far as to suggest this: Fly every board member who is available to a two or three day retreat. Get everyone in the same room, a professional facilitator to speed the process, then figure out what OSGeo is going to be and how to get there. Don’t fret excessively about the expense — this isn’t about saving money, it’s about saving OSGeo.

If you ask me, irrelevancy is a fate worse than death. Be bold! It’s better to try to do something big and new then fail than to simply fade away and be forgotten.

Though my comments above may sound harsh, they are sent with the very best of intentions. I want OSGeo to succeed, but OSGeo is never going to succeed if it doesn’t know what it’s try to succeed at. Without real reform, I don’t see success happening, just irrelevance. Here’s hoping this gets the ball rolling.

Darrell


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Re: OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

geowolf
In reply to this post by Milo van der Linden-5
On Sat, Sep 26, 2015 at 12:12 AM, Milo van der Linden <[hidden email]> wrote:

Being a "don't talk, act" member since 2008, entrepreneur and former chairman of a couple of local initiatives, I strongly agree.

Seeing all the "empty talkers" from my country run for charter membership and still not having geoserver, which is the most mature open geospatial product I can think of pas incubation made me completely lose interest in OSGeo.


Hi Milo,
to be completely honest, I cannot put an ounce of blame on OSGeo for GeoServer not graduating quickly, the goals were there and were clear and GeoServer was basically satisfying all but one of them from day one: unfortunately we failed to execute on the IP review, which is a manual, long, boring task, mostly because we were too busy with other stuff.
Eventually Jody managed to wrangle volunteers at a code sprint, got every single file checked/fixed/reported, and voilà, shortly after we passed graduation.

Other foundations have a dedicated team to do IP reviews, but those are paid staff, not sure OSGeo can afford that... on the other side, every project with a large code base will have a hard time putting aside the time to go though every single file to check for IP violations.

Just my 2 (euro) cents ;-)

Cheers
Andrea

--
==
GeoServer Professional Services from the experts! Visit
http://goo.gl/it488V for more information.
==

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@geowolf
Technical Lead

GeoSolutions S.A.S.
Via Poggio alle Viti 1187
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Italy
phone: +39 0584 962313
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Re: [Board] OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

Massimiliano Cannata
In reply to this post by Darrell Fuhriman

Darrel YOU ARE WRONG.... BUT
osgeo is a great and successful community and this alone desrve the OSGeo existence.

Before we only had project oriented communities (mapserver, grass,  etc). But now we have a place in the network to get togheter with all projects and users. Aren't we using stack of softwere instead of a single solution very often?
FOSS4G is where we exchange ideas, create innovation and get fun also.

Some excellent work is done also in some working groups... incubation and geo4all for example...

So you are WRONG!

BUT.... i have to agree that things could even be better :-)
In my opinion (and this is part of my manifesto even if i still have one more year to serve the board):
- we need to redefine objectives of the association cause things have changed (reault framework...)
- we need to better promote our valuable software and community (marketing. ..)
- we need to review and redefine rules so that they are transparent and clear (communication... )
- we need to lower the rates of our international meetings to be more inclusive
- we need a plan for investment (investment plan..)

So i call for a face2face meeting of 2 days of all the board members in the next months to discuss all these points.
Apparently the last board was not able to set a date, but i'm keen that the new board will be able to do it. It will aslo he agood starting point to define our working plan...

The i call all of you charter member to help and do things... continuing in shaking the community but also propose and act to make the world a better place. Then if you think the world would be better without osgeo... well... be part of the community is not mandatory :-)

Best
Proudly member of osgeo
Maxi

Il 25/Set/2015 21:57, "Darrell Fuhriman" <[hidden email]> ha scritto:
The recent discussion on the board list that came out of the question of the 2014 videos has got me thinking about a few things again, and I want to try to get them out there.

Grab a mug of your favorite liquid and hunker down, because I put some time and effort into this, and your own well considered reply is appreciated.

Keep in mind that all of these comments are coming from my personal perspective, which, like everyone’s, is an incomplete picture of the whole. Much of what I’m going to say has been rolling around my head for a while, so I’m just going to put it out there.

I will start with a provocative thesis:

OSGeo lacks visionary unified leadership and without it will become irrelevant.

Of course, making such a claim requires support. So let me break down the statement.

“Visionary leadership” is really two things, “vision” and “leadership.” I will address each in turn.

OSGeo lacks vision

I looked at the list of “Goals” for OSGeo. I wonder: when was the last time these goals were evaluated for both success and relevancy?

Here is my own opinion of success of some of  these goals. (In the interest of brevity, I haven’t tried to tackle everything. That’s left as an exercise to the reader.)

Example 1

To provide resources for foundation projects - eg. infrastructure, funding, legal.

Allow me to break each of those examples down.

Infrastructure

It’s true that OSGeo provides some infrastructure, such as Trac instance, Mailman, SVN repos. If the budget is to be believed, we pay some $3,500/yr to OSUOSL for said infrastructure. I wonder if such a service is necessary, however. Issue tracking and source control are much better provided by Github, which is free for organization such as ours.
I say this because a) that’s money that could be better spent elsewhere and b) supporting these services burns precious volunteer time (more on that below).

There are clear cost savings available, which are not taken advantage of. For example, OSGeo could be hosting FOSS4G infrastructure: conference websites and registration, a central location for conference videos (regardless of platform/provider). This neglect is especially galling given that FOSS4G is OSGeo’s sole source of income.

Funding

OSGeo does not fund projects. It has provided some funds to pay for Code Sprints — $15k in 2014 according to the budget.

Legal

I see nothing that has been done on this front recently. Please feel free to correct me.

Conclusion

OSGeo, where it actually does what it claims, has not adapted in ways that could save money.

My grade: D

Example 2

To promote freely available geodata - free software is useless without data.

The geodata working group is dead. As near as I can tell by perusing the mailing list archives, and the wiki, there has been no meaningful activity in the past two years (maybe more).

My grade: F

Example 3

To promote the use of open source software in the geospatial industry (not just foundation software) - eg. PR, training, outreach.

The Board of Directors page says:

Packaging and Marketing

OSGeo’s marketing effort has primarily been focused around the packaging and documentation efforts of OSGeo-Live, and to a lesser extend[sic], osgeo4w. […] It has been entirely driven by volunteer labour, with 140 OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been covered by local events or sponsors. In the last couple of years, OSGeo has covered local chapter expenses required to purchase non-consumable items for conference booths (such as a retractable banner). In moving forward, OSGeo hope to extend marketing reach by providing co-contributions toward printing costs of consumable items at conferences, such as toward OSGeo-Live DVDs.

Local Chapters

Much of OSGeo’s marketing initiates are applied at the local level. In many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email list and wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering to pay for an Exhibition starter pack for local chapters. Local chapters are also usually the coordinators of conferences and related events, as mentioned above.

Exhibition starter packs almost never happen; OSGeo-Live explicitly gets no support; and OSGeo struggles to staff a booth at its own conference to say nothing of any other conferences.

Note: Local chapters certainly do do marketing and outreach, but these efforts are essentially unsupported by the OSGeo Foundation. In fact, this goal and the Board of Directors webpage seem to be explicitly contradictory.

My grade: F.

Commentary

I could go on with my own personal evaluations, but I’m not sure that’s necessary. The only place I see that OSGeo has unquestionably succeeded in the past few years is the final goal, “To award the Sol Katz award for service to the OSGeo community”.

So, what’s my point here? It’s simple: there is no longer a coherent vision for what OSGeo should be. I’ll return to that below, but let me continue with my other point.

OSGeo lacks leadership

Again quoting the Board of Directors’ page:

The board’s primary responsibility is to efficiently and effectively make strategic decisions related to the running of OSGeo.

I won’t bore you with the details, but a perusal of the board meeting minutes would indicate that strategy is rarely, if ever, a part of the meetings.

The emphasis on consensus-based decision making often leads to no decisions being made. I can’t count the number of discussions that have come up on the board list only to devolve into a morass of nit-picking and eventual lack of action when everyone tires of the discussion. What action that is taken is often to “delegate” to a (possibly inactive) sub-committee, then never follow up.

Instead what we have is a great deal of inertia, little interest in changing things, and no clear indication of what the Board’s priorities are.

If priorities do exist, they’re lost in a maze of confusing, incomplete and often contradictory information on the wiki. (Wikis — like abandonware for documentation.)

On pending irrelevancy

I encourage you to ask some random people in the open source geospatial community what OSGeo means to them. I would make a bet that the most common answer is a blank stare.

I would ask the board members to come up with three things, other than FOSS4G, where the OSGeo membership has shown its importance to the community as a whole in the last two years. Something where people say, “Did you hear about [exciting thing] OSGeo is doing on X?” To be clear, I don’t mean just things that OSGeo has a finger in, but things that need OSGeo. If OSGeo disappeared tomorrow, would any of these projects be significantly affected?

I don’t think it can be done. The OSGeo Foundation is sliding into irrelevancy — and it may already be there.

If anything should be seen as strategic for OSGeo, it’s FOSS4G, the foundation’s primary (sole?) source of income. Even regarding its flagship public event, the board is largely absent. Rather than provide adequate resources and planning, they instead rely on burning out volunteers, then make post-hoc demands on the way they should have done it, provide no future support for organizers to heed those demands, rarely follow up, then go on to repeat the same mistakes the following year.  Honestly, it’s surprising that FOSS4G has failed only once. (I think this is a reflection of the demand for the conference, not the blazing competence of OSGeo.)

Michael Gerlek brought this up on the osgeo-discuss list in July, and probably has a more generous spin on it. He essentially argues that it’s time to declare mission accomplished and shut down or rebooted. I agree with his points, and I’m arguing that OSGeo can have something to offer, but it will require a major re-think of its mission.

Fixing things

I hinted at this in my recent questions to the board candidates, but I want to be explicit here: OSGeo needs to evolve or die.

Here’s how I would do it:

  1. The board needs to evaluate all of its goals, as defined on the About page, to decide if they are still truly goals. Define any new goals.

  2. Ask the question: “What does it mean to succeed at this goal?”

If the goal is vague, or ongoing, give a timeline: “What does success look like for this goal one year from now?”

  1. Create measureable objectives for achieving those goals. Ask the question, “How will we know if we’ve succeeded?”

  2. Prioritize the goals.

  3. Allocate resources to the goals.

Obviously this is a tricky one, but I think we can look at this a balance between Importance and Effort.


Spend money to reduce to the effort required, more money if the goal is more important — this might be the hardest cultural shift. Volunteer time is precious and easily discouraged. Make sure that you make it as efficient as possible by spending money when you can.


For example, many of the infrastructure services OSGeo provides can be easily outsourced to more featureful services that are more responsive and rely less on volunteer labor.

  1. Close the loop on tasks. When a task is delegated to a committee or individual, track its progress, both to know that it is or isn’t happening, and to be able to acknowledge and incorporate the work when it’s done. Failing to acknowledge people’s labor or to use the results of that labor will virtually guarantee that the volunteer does not continue to help.

  2. Evaluate success and failure.  GOTO 1.

Aside: none if this will happen without a strong executive. Whether that position is paid or not is up to the board, but it’s clear that there needs to be someone who can make decisions without endless rounds of fruitless discussions. The board as currently constituted is not dysfunctional, but it is mostly afunctional.

I’m will go so far as to suggest this: Fly every board member who is available to a two or three day retreat. Get everyone in the same room, a professional facilitator to speed the process, then figure out what OSGeo is going to be and how to get there. Don’t fret excessively about the expense — this isn’t about saving money, it’s about saving OSGeo.

If you ask me, irrelevancy is a fate worse than death. Be bold! It’s better to try to do something big and new then fail than to simply fade away and be forgotten.

Though my comments above may sound harsh, they are sent with the very best of intentions. I want OSGeo to succeed, but OSGeo is never going to succeed if it doesn’t know what it’s try to succeed at. Without real reform, I don’t see success happening, just irrelevance. Here’s hoping this gets the ball rolling.

Darrell


_______________________________________________
Board mailing list
[hidden email]
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Re: [Board] OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

Cameron Shorter
Darrel,
Excellently stated ideas! We, OSGeo need to acknowledge our weaknesses if we are going to address them!

Your ideas will provide the incoming board with a great framework to start discussions. I'm hopeful that you will be available to expand upon these themes that you have raised, and help OSGeo and the OSGeo board identify ideas for implementation?

Expanding upon your question about "what is the importance of OSGeo?" Ie, what does OSGeo provide which isn't available elsewhere?

* I'd say "OSGeo" provides a brand. The OSGeo brand stands for quality, standards compliance, Open Source Geospatial Software, and associated Open Source communities. This is defined in the OSGeo Incubation process [1] and reflected in the charters of our projects. 

* OSGeo also stands for a marketing pipeline, which is embodied in the FOSS4G conferences and OSGeo-Live.  Marketing is also gained through DebianGIS, UbuntuGIS packaging.

* I also see the education initiatives as becoming an upcoming focus area for OSGeo. I see huge (mostly untapped) potential to integrate training initiatives with project development communities. A full time employee dedicated to this integration could make an impressive difference. (I'm thinking about using a similar process to that used by the OSGeo-Live project [2] )

With regards to your idea of shipping the board away to a physical location to discuss solutions. I think that would be a good idea if the breadth of the OSGeo community were in the room. However we have some incredibly intelligent and insightful people in our OSGeo community, and not all of them are on our current board. Some have served on prior boards. Some, such as yourself, have contributed hugely to OSGeo in other ways, but never served on the board. I'd be hopeful that we could thrash out some of these ideas in a public forum first, which hopefully will help the board draw upon the insights of our greater community.  (I do note Darrel's very valid point about the difference between talk and action. Of late, there have been less ideas converted to action.)

Warm regards, Cameron

[1] http://www.osgeo.org/incubator/process/project_graduation_checklist.html
[2] http://cameronshorter.blogspot.com.au/2011/06/memoirs-of-cat-herder-coordinating.html

On 26/09/2015 4:40 pm, Massimiliano Cannata wrote:

Darrel YOU ARE WRONG.... BUT
osgeo is a great and successful community and this alone desrve the OSGeo existence.

Before we only had project oriented communities (mapserver, grass,  etc). But now we have a place in the network to get togheter with all projects and users. Aren't we using stack of softwere instead of a single solution very often?
FOSS4G is where we exchange ideas, create innovation and get fun also.

Some excellent work is done also in some working groups... incubation and geo4all for example...

So you are WRONG!

BUT.... i have to agree that things could even be better :-)
In my opinion (and this is part of my manifesto even if i still have one more year to serve the board):
- we need to redefine objectives of the association cause things have changed (reault framework...)
- we need to better promote our valuable software and community (marketing. ..)
- we need to review and redefine rules so that they are transparent and clear (communication... )
- we need to lower the rates of our international meetings to be more inclusive
- we need a plan for investment (investment plan..)

So i call for a face2face meeting of 2 days of all the board members in the next months to discuss all these points.
Apparently the last board was not able to set a date, but i'm keen that the new board will be able to do it. It will aslo he agood starting point to define our working plan...

The i call all of you charter member to help and do things... continuing in shaking the community but also propose and act to make the world a better place. Then if you think the world would be better without osgeo... well... be part of the community is not mandatory :-)

Best
Proudly member of osgeo
Maxi

Il 25/Set/2015 21:57, "Darrell Fuhriman" <[hidden email]> ha scritto:
The recent discussion on the board list that came out of the question of the 2014 videos has got me thinking about a few things again, and I want to try to get them out there.

Grab a mug of your favorite liquid and hunker down, because I put some time and effort into this, and your own well considered reply is appreciated.

Keep in mind that all of these comments are coming from my personal perspective, which, like everyone’s, is an incomplete picture of the whole. Much of what I’m going to say has been rolling around my head for a while, so I’m just going to put it out there.

I will start with a provocative thesis:

OSGeo lacks visionary unified leadership and without it will become irrelevant.

Of course, making such a claim requires support. So let me break down the statement.

“Visionary leadership” is really two things, “vision” and “leadership.” I will address each in turn.

OSGeo lacks vision

I looked at the list of “Goals” for OSGeo. I wonder: when was the last time these goals were evaluated for both success and relevancy?

Here is my own opinion of success of some of  these goals. (In the interest of brevity, I haven’t tried to tackle everything. That’s left as an exercise to the reader.)

Example 1

To provide resources for foundation projects - eg. infrastructure, funding, legal.

Allow me to break each of those examples down.

Infrastructure

It’s true that OSGeo provides some infrastructure, such as Trac instance, Mailman, SVN repos. If the budget is to be believed, we pay some $3,500/yr to OSUOSL for said infrastructure. I wonder if such a service is necessary, however. Issue tracking and source control are much better provided by Github, which is free for organization such as ours.
I say this because a) that’s money that could be better spent elsewhere and b) supporting these services burns precious volunteer time (more on that below).

There are clear cost savings available, which are not taken advantage of. For example, OSGeo could be hosting FOSS4G infrastructure: conference websites and registration, a central location for conference videos (regardless of platform/provider). This neglect is especially galling given that FOSS4G is OSGeo’s sole source of income.

Funding

OSGeo does not fund projects. It has provided some funds to pay for Code Sprints — $15k in 2014 according to the budget.

Legal

I see nothing that has been done on this front recently. Please feel free to correct me.

Conclusion

OSGeo, where it actually does what it claims, has not adapted in ways that could save money.

My grade: D

Example 2

To promote freely available geodata - free software is useless without data.

The geodata working group is dead. As near as I can tell by perusing the mailing list archives, and the wiki, there has been no meaningful activity in the past two years (maybe more).

My grade: F

Example 3

To promote the use of open source software in the geospatial industry (not just foundation software) - eg. PR, training, outreach.

The Board of Directors page says:

Packaging and Marketing

OSGeo’s marketing effort has primarily been focused around the packaging and documentation efforts of OSGeo-Live, and to a lesser extend[sic], osgeo4w. […] It has been entirely driven by volunteer labour, with 140 OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been covered by local events or sponsors. In the last couple of years, OSGeo has covered local chapter expenses required to purchase non-consumable items for conference booths (such as a retractable banner). In moving forward, OSGeo hope to extend marketing reach by providing co-contributions toward printing costs of consumable items at conferences, such as toward OSGeo-Live DVDs.

Local Chapters

Much of OSGeo’s marketing initiates are applied at the local level. In many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email list and wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering to pay for an Exhibition starter pack for local chapters. Local chapters are also usually the coordinators of conferences and related events, as mentioned above.

Exhibition starter packs almost never happen; OSGeo-Live explicitly gets no support; and OSGeo struggles to staff a booth at its own conference to say nothing of any other conferences.

Note: Local chapters certainly do do marketing and outreach, but these efforts are essentially unsupported by the OSGeo Foundation. In fact, this goal and the Board of Directors webpage seem to be explicitly contradictory.

My grade: F.

Commentary

I could go on with my own personal evaluations, but I’m not sure that’s necessary. The only place I see that OSGeo has unquestionably succeeded in the past few years is the final goal, “To award the Sol Katz award for service to the OSGeo community”.

So, what’s my point here? It’s simple: there is no longer a coherent vision for what OSGeo should be. I’ll return to that below, but let me continue with my other point.

OSGeo lacks leadership

Again quoting the Board of Directors’ page:

The board’s primary responsibility is to efficiently and effectively make strategic decisions related to the running of OSGeo.

I won’t bore you with the details, but a perusal of the board meeting minutes would indicate that strategy is rarely, if ever, a part of the meetings.

The emphasis on consensus-based decision making often leads to no decisions being made. I can’t count the number of discussions that have come up on the board list only to devolve into a morass of nit-picking and eventual lack of action when everyone tires of the discussion. What action that is taken is often to “delegate” to a (possibly inactive) sub-committee, then never follow up.

Instead what we have is a great deal of inertia, little interest in changing things, and no clear indication of what the Board’s priorities are.

If priorities do exist, they’re lost in a maze of confusing, incomplete and often contradictory information on the wiki. (Wikis — like abandonware for documentation.)

On pending irrelevancy

I encourage you to ask some random people in the open source geospatial community what OSGeo means to them. I would make a bet that the most common answer is a blank stare.

I would ask the board members to come up with three things, other than FOSS4G, where the OSGeo membership has shown its importance to the community as a whole in the last two years. Something where people say, “Did you hear about [exciting thing] OSGeo is doi n g on X?” To be clear, I don’t mean just things that OSGeo has a finger in, but things that need OSGeo. If OSGeo disappeared tomorrow, would any of these projects be significantly affected?

I don’t think it can be done. The OSGeo Foundation is sliding into irrelevancy — and it may already be there.

If anything should be seen as strategic for OSGeo, it’s FOSS4G, the foundation’s primary (sole?) source of income. Even regarding its flagship public event, the board is largely absent. Rather than provide adequate resources and planning, they instead rely on burning out volunteers, then make post-hoc demands on the way they should have done it, provide no future support for organizers to heed those demands, rarely follow up, then go on to repeat the same mistakes the following year.  Honestly, it’s surprising that FOSS4G has failed only once. (I think this is a reflection of the demand for the conference, not the blazing competence of OSGeo.)

Michael Gerlek brought this up on the osgeo-discuss list in July, and probably has a more generous spin on it. He essentially argues that it’s time to declare mission accomplished and shut down or rebooted. I agree with his points, and I’m arguing that OSGeo can have something to offer, but it will require a major re-think of its mission.

Fixing things

I hinted at this in my recent questions to the board candidates, but I want to be explicit here: OSGeo needs to evolve or die.

Here’s how I would do it:

  1. The board needs to evaluate all of its goals, as defined on the About page, to decide if they are still truly goals. Define any new goals.

  2. Ask the question: “What does it mean to succeed at this goal?”

If the goal is vague, or ongoing, give a timeline: “What does success look like for this goal one year from now?”

  1. Create measureable objectives for achieving those goals. Ask the question, “How will we know if we’ve succeeded?”

  2. Prioritize the goals.

  3. Allocate resources to the goals.

Obviously this is a tricky one, but I think we can look at this a balance between Importance and Effort.

Spend money to reduce to the effort required, more money if the goal is more important — this might be the hardest cultural shift. Volunteer time is precious and easily discouraged. Make sure that you make it as efficient as possible by spending money when you can.

For example, many of the infrastructure services OSGeo provides can be easily outsourced to more featureful services that are more responsive and rely less on volunteer labor.

  1. Close the loop on tasks. When a task is delegated to a committee or individual, track its progress, both to know that it is or isn’t happening, and to be able to acknowledge and incorporate the work when it’s done. Failing to acknowledge people’s labor or to use the results of that labor will virtually guarantee that the volunteer does not continue to help.

  2. Evaluate success and failure.  GOTO 1.

Aside: none if this will happen without a strong executive. Whether that position is paid or not is up to the board, but it’s clear that there needs to be someone who can make decisions without endless rounds of fruitless discussions. The board as currently constituted is not dysfunctional, but it is mostly afunctional.

I’m will go so far as to suggest this: Fly every board member who is available to a two or three day retreat. Get everyone in the same room, a professional facilitator to speed the process, then figure out what OSGeo is going to be and how to get there. Don’t fret excessively about the expense — this isn’t about saving money, it’s about saving OSGeo.

If you ask me, irrelevancy is a fate worse than death. Be bold! It’s better to try to do something big and new then fail than to simply fade away and be forgotten.

Though my comments above may sound harsh, they are sent with the very best of intentions. I want OSGeo to succeed, but OSGeo is never going to succeed if it doesn’t know what it’s try to succeed at. Without real reform, I don’t see success happening, just irrel e vance. Here’s hoping this gets the ball rolling.

Darrell


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-- 
Cameron Shorter,
Software and Data Solutions Manager
LISAsoft
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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Re: OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

Just van den Broecke
In reply to this post by Milo van der Linden-5
Dear Milo,

That you agree Darrel's statements is your opinion and fine in any open
discussion.

I react here on your phrase: '"empty talkers" from my country run for
charter membership'.

We have 9 Charter Members from the Netherlands, including me. I know
each of them, and IMO they are far from "empty talkers". They all spend
long voluntary hours in an array of activities that support OSGeo's
global and OSGeo.nl local mission and FOSS in general. To name a few:
Sebastiaan Couwenberg (2015) spends ample time in Debian packaging
Barend Köbben (2012) helping/speaking at FOSS4G, org academic track
We all know what Jeroen and Bart have accomplished. I could go on. Not
all charter members need to make software, some make things happen like
organizing local OSGeo.nl events and acting in the LOC for the upcoming
FOSS4G in Bonn.

So I hope your "empty talkers" phrase came out of a sudden impulse, that
we all have from time to time. I had to react to clarify some things. Best,

Just van den Broecke
Secretary OSGeo.nl Foundation


On 26-09-15 00:12, Milo van der Linden wrote:

> Being a "don't talk, act" member since 2008, entrepreneur and former
> chairman of a couple of local initiatives, I strongly agree.
>
> Seeing all the "empty talkers" from my country run for charter
> membership and still not having geoserver, which is the most mature open
> geospatial product I can think of pas incubation made me completely lose
> interest in OSGeo.
>
> I am disappointed, a little frustrated and plotting a business course
> that values open source and open knowledge. OSGeo or any in-crowd will
> have no part in my future.
>
> Thank you for your honest and to the point analyses.
>
> Milo
>
> On Sep 25, 2015 21:58, "Darrell Fuhriman" <[hidden email]
> <mailto:[hidden email]>> wrote:
>
>     The recent discussion on the board list
>     <https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2015-September/013172.html>that
>     came out of the question of the 2014 videos has got me thinking
>     about a few things again, and I want to try to get them out there.
>
>     Grab a mug of your favorite liquid and hunker down, because I put
>     some time and effort into this, and your own well considered reply
>     is appreciated.
>
>     Keep in mind that all of these comments are coming from my personal
>     perspective, which, like everyone’s, is an incomplete picture of the
>     whole. Much of what I’m going to say has been rolling around my head
>     for a while, so I’m just going to put it out there.
>
>     I will start with a provocative thesis:
>
>     OSGeo lacks visionary unified leadership and without it will become
>     irrelevant.
>
>     Of course, making such a claim requires support. So let me break
>     down the statement.
>
>     “Visionary leadership” is really two things, “vision” and
>     “leadership.” I will address each in turn.
>
>
>         OSGeo lacks vision
>
>     I looked at the list of “Goals” for OSGeo
>     <http://www.osgeo.org/content/foundation/about.html>. I wonder: when
>     was the last time these goals were evaluated for both success and
>     relevancy?
>
>     Here is my own opinion of success of some of  these goals. (In the
>     interest of brevity, I haven’t tried to tackle everything. That’s
>     left as an exercise to the reader.)
>
>
>           Example 1
>
>     To provide resources for foundation projects - eg. infrastructure,
>     funding, legal.
>
>     Allow me to break each of those examples down.
>
>
>             Infrastructure
>
>     It’s true that OSGeo provides some infrastructure, such as Trac
>     instance, Mailman, SVN repos. If the budget is to be believed, we
>     pay some $3,500/yr to OSUOSL for said infrastructure. I wonder if
>     such a service is necessary, however. Issue tracking and source
>     control are much better provided by Github, which is free for
>     organization such as ours.
>     I say this because a) that’s money that could be better spent
>     elsewhere and b) supporting these services burns precious volunteer
>     time (more on that below).
>
>     There are clear cost savings available, which are not taken
>     advantage of. For example, OSGeo could be hosting FOSS4G
>     infrastructure: conference websites and registration, a central
>     location for conference videos (regardless of platform/provider).
>     This neglect is especially galling given that FOSS4G is OSGeo’s sole
>     source of income.
>
>
>             Funding
>
>     OSGeo does not fund projects. It has provided some funds to pay for
>     Code Sprints — $15k in 2014 according to the budget
>     <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/OSGeo_Budget_2014>.
>
>
>             Legal
>
>     I see nothing that has been done on this front recently. Please feel
>     free to correct me.
>
>
>             Conclusion
>
>     OSGeo, where it actually does what it claims, has not adapted in
>     ways that could save money.
>
>     My grade: D
>
>
>         Example 2
>
>     To promote freely available geodata - free software is useless
>     without data.
>
>     The geodata working group is dead. As near as I can tell by perusing
>     the mailing list archives, and the wiki, there has been no
>     meaningful activity in the past two years (maybe more).
>
>     My grade: F
>
>
>         Example 3
>
>     To promote the use of open source software in the geospatial
>     industry (not just foundation software) - eg. PR, training, outreach.
>
>     The Board of Directors
>     <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Board_of_Directors#Packaging_and_Marketing>page
>     says:
>
>
>             Packaging and Marketing
>
>     OSGeo’s marketing effort has primarily been focused around the
>     packaging and documentation efforts of OSGeo-Live, and to a lesser
>     extend[sic], osgeo4w. […] It has been entirely driven by volunteer
>     labour, with 140 OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been
>     covered by local events or sponsors. In the last couple of years,
>     OSGeo has covered local chapter expenses required to purchase
>     non-consumable items for conference booths (such as a retractable
>     banner). In moving forward, OSGeo hope to extend marketing reach by
>     providing co-contributions toward printing costs of consumable items
>     at conferences, such as toward OSGeo-Live DVDs.
>
>
>             Local Chapters
>
>     Much of OSGeo’s marketing initiates are applied at the local level.
>     In many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email
>     list and wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering
>     to pay for an Exhibition starter pack for local chapters. Local
>     chapters are also usually the coordinators of conferences and
>     related events, as mentioned above.
>
>     Exhibition starter packs almost never happen; OSGeo-Live
>     explicitlygets no support; and OSGeo struggles to staff a booth at
>     its own conferenceto say nothing of any other conferences.
>
>     Note: Local chapters certainly do do marketing and outreach, but
>     these efforts are essentially unsupported by the OSGeo Foundation.
>     In fact, this goal and the Board of Directors webpage seem to be
>     explicitly contradictory.
>
>     My grade: F.
>
>
>           Commentary
>
>     I could go on with my own personal evaluations, but I’m not sure
>     that’s necessary. The only place I see that OSGeo has unquestionably
>     succeeded in the past few years is the final goal, “To award the Sol
>     Katz award for service to the OSGeo community”.
>
>     So, what’s my point here? It’s simple: there is no longer a coherent
>     vision for what OSGeo should be. I’ll return to that below, but let
>     me continue with my other point.
>
>
>         OSGeo lacks leadership
>
>     Again quoting the Board of Directors’ page:
>
>     The board’s primary responsibility is to efficiently and effectively
>     make strategic decisions related to the running of OSGeo.
>
>     I won’t bore you with the details, but a perusal of the board
>     meeting minutes would indicate that strategyis rarely, if ever, a
>     part of the meetings.
>
>     The emphasis on consensus-based decision making often leads to no
>     decisions being made. I can’t count the number of discussions that
>     have come up on the board list only to devolve into a morass of
>     nit-picking and eventual lack of action when everyone tires of the
>     discussion. What action that is taken is often to “delegate” to a
>     (possibly inactive) sub-committee, then never follow up.
>
>     Instead what we have is a great deal of inertia, little interest in
>     changing things, and no clear indication of what the Board’s
>     priorities are.
>
>     If priorities do exist, they’re lost in a maze of confusing,
>     incomplete and often contradictory information on the wiki. (Wikis —
>     like abandonware for documentation.)
>
>
>         On pending irrelevancy
>
>     I encourage you to ask some random people in the open source
>     geospatial community what OSGeo means to them. I would make a bet
>     that the most common answer is a blank stare.
>
>     I would ask the board members to come up with three things, other
>     than FOSS4G, where the OSGeo membership has shown its importance to
>     the community as a wholein the last two years. Something where
>     people say, “Did you hear about[exciting thing]OSGeo is doing on X?”
>     To be clear, I don’t mean just things that OSGeo has a finger in,
>     but things that needOSGeo. If OSGeo disappeared tomorrow, would any
>     of these projects be significantly affected?
>
>     I don’t think it can be done. The OSGeo Foundation is sliding into
>     irrelevancy — and it may already be there.
>
>     If anything should be seen as strategic for OSGeo, it’s FOSS4G, the
>     foundation’s primary (sole?) source of income. Even regarding its
>     flagship public event, the board is largely absent. Rather than
>     provide adequate resources and planning, they instead rely on
>     burning out volunteers, then make post-hoc demands on the way they
>     shouldhave done it, provide no future support for organizers to heed
>     those demands, rarely follow up, then go on to repeat the same
>     mistakes the following year.  Honestly, it’s surprising that FOSS4G
>     has failed only once. (I think this is a reflection of the demand
>     for the conference, not the blazing competence of OSGeo.)
>
>     Michael Gerlek brought this up
>     <https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-July/014521.html>on
>     the osgeo-discuss list in July, and probably has a more generous
>     spin on it. He essentially argues that it’s time to declare mission
>     accomplished and shut down or rebooted. I agree with his points, and
>     I’m arguing that OSGeo can have something to offer, but it will
>     require a major re-think of its mission.
>
>
>         Fixing things
>
>     I hinted at this in my recent questions to the board candidates, but
>     I want to be explicit here: OSGeo needs to evolve or die.
>
>     Here’s how I would do it:
>
>      1.
>
>         The board needs to evaluate all of its goals, as defined on the
>         About page, to decide if they are still truly goals. Define any
>         new goals.
>
>      2.
>
>         Ask the question: “What does it mean to succeed at this goal?”
>
>         If the goal is vague, or ongoing, give a timeline: “What does
>         success look like for this goal one year from now?”
>
>      3.
>
>         Create measureable objectives for achieving those goals. Ask the
>         question, “How will we know if we’ve succeeded?”
>
>      4.
>
>         Prioritize the goals.
>
>      5.
>
>         Allocate resources to the goals.
>
>         Obviously this is a tricky one, but I think we can look at this
>         a balance between Importance and Effort.
>
>
>         Spend money to reduce to the effort required, more money if the
>         goal is more important — this might be the hardest cultural
>         shift. Volunteer time is precious and easily discouraged. Make
>         sure that you make it as efficient as possible by spending money
>         when you can.
>
>
>         For example, many of the infrastructure services OSGeo provides
>         can be easily outsourced to more featureful services that are
>         more responsive and rely less on volunteer labor.
>
>      6.
>
>         Close the loop on tasks. When a task is delegated to a committee
>         or individual, track its progress, both to know that it is or
>         isn’t happening, and to be able to acknowledge and incorporate
>         the work when it’s done. Failing to acknowledge people’s labor
>         or to use the results of that labor will virtually guarantee
>         that the volunteer does not continue to help.
>
>      7.
>
>         Evaluate success and failure.  GOTO 1.
>
>     Aside: none if this will happen without a strong executive. Whether
>     that position is paid or not is up to the board, but it’s clear that
>     there needs to be someone who can make decisions without endless
>     rounds of fruitless discussions. The board as currently constituted
>     is not dysfunctional, but it is mostly afunctional.
>
>     I’m will go so far as to suggest this: Fly every board member who is
>     available to a two or three day retreat. Get everyone in the same
>     room, a professional facilitator to speed the process, then figure
>     out what OSGeo is going to be and how to get there. Don’t fret
>     excessively about the expense — this isn’t about saving money, it’s
>     about saving OSGeo.
>
>     If you ask me, irrelevancy is a fate worse than death. Be bold!It’s
>     better to try to do something big and new then fail than to simply
>     fade away and be forgotten.
>
>     Though my comments above may sound harsh, they are sent with the
>     very best of intentions. I want OSGeo to succeed, but OSGeo is never
>     going to succeed if it doesn’t know what it’s try to succeed
>     at.Without real reform, I don’t see success happening, just
>     irrelevance. Here’s hoping this gets the ball rolling.
>
>     Darrell
>
>
>     _______________________________________________
>     Discuss mailing list
>     [hidden email] <mailto:[hidden email]>
>     http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
>



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Re: OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

Jo Cook

Hi All, and especially Darrel,

In his email Darrel articulated some ideas that I have been having for a couple of years now, but haven't been able to clearly define.

So firstly I'd like to say that I totally agree with Darrel's points (and Michael Gerlek's previously)- OSGeo is definitely in danger of becoming irrelevant. Some of this is down to being a victim of its own success. The projects have, in many cases, matured and become popular to the point where they no longer need OSGeo. I'd really like to see a thorough assessment of our goals and objectives to decide what is still important. The availability of infrastructure, version control, open data, etc have improved massively over the last 5 years so now is a great time for a real spring-clean and decide what we need to keep and what we don't.

What does the world really need from OSGeo that it can't get from anyone else? What problems could we solve moving forward? Those are the things we should focus on.

I'm currently trying to write an article on open geospatial in 2020 and I can honestly say I'm struggling to see a place for OSGeo in it. I'd really like to be proved wrong (and I'd love some predictions for my article, but that's for another discussion).

Thanks

Jo

On 26 Sep 2015 1:40 pm, "Just van den Broecke" <[hidden email]> wrote:
Dear Milo,

That you agree Darrel's statements is your opinion and fine in any open discussion.

I react here on your phrase: '"empty talkers" from my country run for charter membership'.

We have 9 Charter Members from the Netherlands, including me. I know each of them, and IMO they are far from "empty talkers". They all spend long voluntary hours in an array of activities that support OSGeo's global and OSGeo.nl local mission and FOSS in general. To name a few:
Sebastiaan Couwenberg (2015) spends ample time in Debian packaging
Barend Köbben (2012) helping/speaking at FOSS4G, org academic track
We all know what Jeroen and Bart have accomplished. I could go on. Not all charter members need to make software, some make things happen like organizing local OSGeo.nl events and acting in the LOC for the upcoming FOSS4G in Bonn.

So I hope your "empty talkers" phrase came out of a sudden impulse, that we all have from time to time. I had to react to clarify some things. Best,

Just van den Broecke
Secretary OSGeo.nl Foundation


On 26-09-15 00:12, Milo van der Linden wrote:
Being a "don't talk, act" member since 2008, entrepreneur and former
chairman of a couple of local initiatives, I strongly agree.

Seeing all the "empty talkers" from my country run for charter
membership and still not having geoserver, which is the most mature open
geospatial product I can think of pas incubation made me completely lose
interest in OSGeo.

I am disappointed, a little frustrated and plotting a business course
that values open source and open knowledge. OSGeo or any in-crowd will
have no part in my future.

Thank you for your honest and to the point analyses.

Milo

On Sep 25, 2015 21:58, "Darrell Fuhriman" <[hidden email]
<mailto:[hidden email]>> wrote:

    The recent discussion on the board list
    <https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2015-September/013172.html>that
    came out of the question of the 2014 videos has got me thinking
    about a few things again, and I want to try to get them out there.

    Grab a mug of your favorite liquid and hunker down, because I put
    some time and effort into this, and your own well considered reply
    is appreciated.

    Keep in mind that all of these comments are coming from my personal
    perspective, which, like everyone’s, is an incomplete picture of the
    whole. Much of what I’m going to say has been rolling around my head
    for a while, so I’m just going to put it out there.

    I will start with a provocative thesis:

    OSGeo lacks visionary unified leadership and without it will become
    irrelevant.

    Of course, making such a claim requires support. So let me break
    down the statement.

    “Visionary leadership” is really two things, “vision” and
    “leadership.” I will address each in turn.


        OSGeo lacks vision

    I looked at the list of “Goals” for OSGeo
    <http://www.osgeo.org/content/foundation/about.html>. I wonder: when
    was the last time these goals were evaluated for both success and
    relevancy?

    Here is my own opinion of success of some of  these goals. (In the
    interest of brevity, I haven’t tried to tackle everything. That’s
    left as an exercise to the reader.)


          Example 1

    To provide resources for foundation projects - eg. infrastructure,
    funding, legal.

    Allow me to break each of those examples down.


            Infrastructure

    It’s true that OSGeo provides some infrastructure, such as Trac
    instance, Mailman, SVN repos. If the budget is to be believed, we
    pay some $3,500/yr to OSUOSL for said infrastructure. I wonder if
    such a service is necessary, however. Issue tracking and source
    control are much better provided by Github, which is free for
    organization such as ours.
    I say this because a) that’s money that could be better spent
    elsewhere and b) supporting these services burns precious volunteer
    time (more on that below).

    There are clear cost savings available, which are not taken
    advantage of. For example, OSGeo could be hosting FOSS4G
    infrastructure: conference websites and registration, a central
    location for conference videos (regardless of platform/provider).
    This neglect is especially galling given that FOSS4G is OSGeo’s sole
    source of income.


            Funding

    OSGeo does not fund projects. It has provided some funds to pay for
    Code Sprints — $15k in 2014 according to the budget
    <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/OSGeo_Budget_2014>.


            Legal

    I see nothing that has been done on this front recently. Please feel
    free to correct me.


            Conclusion

    OSGeo, where it actually does what it claims, has not adapted in
    ways that could save money.

    My grade: D


        Example 2

    To promote freely available geodata - free software is useless
    without data.

    The geodata working group is dead. As near as I can tell by perusing
    the mailing list archives, and the wiki, there has been no
    meaningful activity in the past two years (maybe more).

    My grade: F


        Example 3

    To promote the use of open source software in the geospatial
    industry (not just foundation software) - eg. PR, training, outreach.

    The Board of Directors
    <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Board_of_Directors#Packaging_and_Marketing>page
    says:


            Packaging and Marketing

    OSGeo’s marketing effort has primarily been focused around the
    packaging and documentation efforts of OSGeo-Live, and to a lesser
    extend[sic], osgeo4w. […] It has been entirely driven by volunteer
    labour, with 140 OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been
    covered by local events or sponsors. In the last couple of years,
    OSGeo has covered local chapter expenses required to purchase
    non-consumable items for conference booths (such as a retractable
    banner). In moving forward, OSGeo hope to extend marketing reach by
    providing co-contributions toward printing costs of consumable items
    at conferences, such as toward OSGeo-Live DVDs.


            Local Chapters

    Much of OSGeo’s marketing initiates are applied at the local level.
    In many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email
    list and wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering
    to pay for an Exhibition starter pack for local chapters. Local
    chapters are also usually the coordinators of conferences and
    related events, as mentioned above.

    Exhibition starter packs almost never happen; OSGeo-Live
    explicitlygets no support; and OSGeo struggles to staff a booth at
    its own conferenceto say nothing of any other conferences.

    Note: Local chapters certainly do do marketing and outreach, but
    these efforts are essentially unsupported by the OSGeo Foundation.
    In fact, this goal and the Board of Directors webpage seem to be
    explicitly contradictory.

    My grade: F.


          Commentary

    I could go on with my own personal evaluations, but I’m not sure
    that’s necessary. The only place I see that OSGeo has unquestionably
    succeeded in the past few years is the final goal, “To award the Sol
    Katz award for service to the OSGeo community”.

    So, what’s my point here? It’s simple: there is no longer a coherent
    vision for what OSGeo should be. I’ll return to that below, but let
    me continue with my other point.


        OSGeo lacks leadership

    Again quoting the Board of Directors’ page:

    The board’s primary responsibility is to efficiently and effectively
    make strategic decisions related to the running of OSGeo.

    I won’t bore you with the details, but a perusal of the board
    meeting minutes would indicate that strategyis rarely, if ever, a
    part of the meetings.

    The emphasis on consensus-based decision making often leads to no
    decisions being made. I can’t count the number of discussions that
    have come up on the board list only to devolve into a morass of
    nit-picking and eventual lack of action when everyone tires of the
    discussion. What action that is taken is often to “delegate” to a
    (possibly inactive) sub-committee, then never follow up.

    Instead what we have is a great deal of inertia, little interest in
    changing things, and no clear indication of what the Board’s
    priorities are.

    If priorities do exist, they’re lost in a maze of confusing,
    incomplete and often contradictory information on the wiki. (Wikis —
    like abandonware for documentation.)


        On pending irrelevancy

    I encourage you to ask some random people in the open source
    geospatial community what OSGeo means to them. I would make a bet
    that the most common answer is a blank stare.

    I would ask the board members to come up with three things, other
    than FOSS4G, where the OSGeo membership has shown its importance to
    the community as a wholein the last two years. Something where
    people say, “Did you hear about[exciting thing]OSGeo is doing on X?”
    To be clear, I don’t mean just things that OSGeo has a finger in,
    but things that needOSGeo. If OSGeo disappeared tomorrow, would any
    of these projects be significantly affected?

    I don’t think it can be done. The OSGeo Foundation is sliding into
    irrelevancy — and it may already be there.

    If anything should be seen as strategic for OSGeo, it’s FOSS4G, the
    foundation’s primary (sole?) source of income. Even regarding its
    flagship public event, the board is largely absent. Rather than
    provide adequate resources and planning, they instead rely on
    burning out volunteers, then make post-hoc demands on the way they
    shouldhave done it, provide no future support for organizers to heed
    those demands, rarely follow up, then go on to repeat the same
    mistakes the following year.  Honestly, it’s surprising that FOSS4G
    has failed only once. (I think this is a reflection of the demand
    for the conference, not the blazing competence of OSGeo.)

    Michael Gerlek brought this up
    <https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-July/014521.html>on
    the osgeo-discuss list in July, and probably has a more generous
    spin on it. He essentially argues that it’s time to declare mission
    accomplished and shut down or rebooted. I agree with his points, and
    I’m arguing that OSGeo can have something to offer, but it will
    require a major re-think of its mission.


        Fixing things

    I hinted at this in my recent questions to the board candidates, but
    I want to be explicit here: OSGeo needs to evolve or die.

    Here’s how I would do it:

     1.

        The board needs to evaluate all of its goals, as defined on the
        About page, to decide if they are still truly goals. Define any
        new goals.

     2.

        Ask the question: “What does it mean to succeed at this goal?”

        If the goal is vague, or ongoing, give a timeline: “What does
        success look like for this goal one year from now?”

     3.

        Create measureable objectives for achieving those goals. Ask the
        question, “How will we know if we’ve succeeded?”

     4.

        Prioritize the goals.

     5.

        Allocate resources to the goals.

        Obviously this is a tricky one, but I think we can look at this
        a balance between Importance and Effort.


        Spend money to reduce to the effort required, more money if the
        goal is more important — this might be the hardest cultural
        shift. Volunteer time is precious and easily discouraged. Make
        sure that you make it as efficient as possible by spending money
        when you can.


        For example, many of the infrastructure services OSGeo provides
        can be easily outsourced to more featureful services that are
        more responsive and rely less on volunteer labor.

     6.

        Close the loop on tasks. When a task is delegated to a committee
        or individual, track its progress, both to know that it is or
        isn’t happening, and to be able to acknowledge and incorporate
        the work when it’s done. Failing to acknowledge people’s labor
        or to use the results of that labor will virtually guarantee
        that the volunteer does not continue to help.

     7.

        Evaluate success and failure.  GOTO 1.

    Aside: none if this will happen without a strong executive. Whether
    that position is paid or not is up to the board, but it’s clear that
    there needs to be someone who can make decisions without endless
    rounds of fruitless discussions. The board as currently constituted
    is not dysfunctional, but it is mostly afunctional.

    I’m will go so far as to suggest this: Fly every board member who is
    available to a two or three day retreat. Get everyone in the same
    room, a professional facilitator to speed the process, then figure
    out what OSGeo is going to be and how to get there. Don’t fret
    excessively about the expense — this isn’t about saving money, it’s
    about saving OSGeo.

    If you ask me, irrelevancy is a fate worse than death. Be bold!It’s
    better to try to do something big and new then fail than to simply
    fade away and be forgotten.

    Though my comments above may sound harsh, they are sent with the
    very best of intentions. I want OSGeo to succeed, but OSGeo is never
    going to succeed if it doesn’t know what it’s try to succeed
    at.Without real reform, I don’t see success happening, just
    irrelevance. Here’s hoping this gets the ball rolling.

    Darrell


    _______________________________________________
    Discuss mailing list
    [hidden email] <mailto:[hidden email]>
    http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss



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Re: OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

Darrell Fuhriman
In reply to this post by Just van den Broecke
This is a perfect example.

All of those are great and wonderful things! The community does great and wonderful things. That’ s not my point.

My point is, those activities would happen even if the OSGeo Foundation disappeared. I’m not questioning whether we have a large and vibrant community, we do. And we still would.

My local chapter existed before it was an OSGeo chapter, and we would keep on having meetings and doing fun and exciting things even without the OSGeo Foundation.

Put another way: The OSGeo Foundation needs the Open Source Geospatial community, but does the Open Source Geospatial community need the OSGeo Foundation? I don’t see that it does.

Darrell




> On Sep 26, 2015, at 05:29, Just van den Broecke <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Dear Milo,
>
> That you agree Darrel's statements is your opinion and fine in any open discussion.
>
> I react here on your phrase: '"empty talkers" from my country run for charter membership'.
>
> We have 9 Charter Members from the Netherlands, including me. I know each of them, and IMO they are far from "empty talkers". They all spend long voluntary hours in an array of activities that support OSGeo's global and OSGeo.nl local mission and FOSS in general. To name a few:
> Sebastiaan Couwenberg (2015) spends ample time in Debian packaging
> Barend Köbben (2012) helping/speaking at FOSS4G, org academic track
> We all know what Jeroen and Bart have accomplished. I could go on. Not all charter members need to make software, some make things happen like organizing local OSGeo.nl events and acting in the LOC for the upcoming FOSS4G in Bonn.
>
> So I hope your "empty talkers" phrase came out of a sudden impulse, that we all have from time to time. I had to react to clarify some things. Best,
>
> Just van den Broecke
> Secretary OSGeo.nl Foundation
>
>
> On 26-09-15 00:12, Milo van der Linden wrote:
>> Being a "don't talk, act" member since 2008, entrepreneur and former
>> chairman of a couple of local initiatives, I strongly agree.
>>
>> Seeing all the "empty talkers" from my country run for charter
>> membership and still not having geoserver, which is the most mature open
>> geospatial product I can think of pas incubation made me completely lose
>> interest in OSGeo.
>>
>> I am disappointed, a little frustrated and plotting a business course
>> that values open source and open knowledge. OSGeo or any in-crowd will
>> have no part in my future.
>>
>> Thank you for your honest and to the point analyses.
>>
>> Milo
>>

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Re: OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

Jachym Cepicky
Darrell, you might have some points

Let me add, that OSGeo might seem in *some* communities irrelevant, because we, as OSGeo, did not manage to push our brand in the  front even on *our* FOSS4G conference (I still remember no OSGeo logo being visible around). OSGeo will be visible only to the point, where our members will make it visible on their events.

Certainly, clear renewed vision would help and no doubt, there are people on the Board (currently - and nominated), which are fully aware of this. And the board list, as well as every meeting is publicly accessible - everybody can help.

My observation: volunteer time is limited. Either I dedicate it to OSGeo infrastructure, or to my project (which I would like to see grow too). That's life. 

Now I take rest and hope to contribute more to both

Just my irrelevant 2cents

J

P.S. Talking is cheap. Show me the code. (Linus Torvalds)

so 26. 9. 2015 v 17:20 odesílatel Darrell Fuhriman <[hidden email]> napsal:
This is a perfect example.

All of those are great and wonderful things! The community does great and wonderful things. That’ s not my point.

My point is, those activities would happen even if the OSGeo Foundation disappeared. I’m not questioning whether we have a large and vibrant community, we do. And we still would.

My local chapter existed before it was an OSGeo chapter, and we would keep on having meetings and doing fun and exciting things even without the OSGeo Foundation.

Put another way: The OSGeo Foundation needs the Open Source Geospatial community, but does the Open Source Geospatial community need the OSGeo Foundation? I don’t see that it does.

Darrell




> On Sep 26, 2015, at 05:29, Just van den Broecke <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Dear Milo,
>
> That you agree Darrel's statements is your opinion and fine in any open discussion.
>
> I react here on your phrase: '"empty talkers" from my country run for charter membership'.
>
> We have 9 Charter Members from the Netherlands, including me. I know each of them, and IMO they are far from "empty talkers". They all spend long voluntary hours in an array of activities that support OSGeo's global and OSGeo.nl local mission and FOSS in general. To name a few:
> Sebastiaan Couwenberg (2015) spends ample time in Debian packaging
> Barend Köbben (2012) helping/speaking at FOSS4G, org academic track
> We all know what Jeroen and Bart have accomplished. I could go on. Not all charter members need to make software, some make things happen like organizing local OSGeo.nl events and acting in the LOC for the upcoming FOSS4G in Bonn.
>
> So I hope your "empty talkers" phrase came out of a sudden impulse, that we all have from time to time. I had to react to clarify some things. Best,
>
> Just van den Broecke
> Secretary OSGeo.nl Foundation
>
>
> On 26-09-15 00:12, Milo van der Linden wrote:
>> Being a "don't talk, act" member since 2008, entrepreneur and former
>> chairman of a couple of local initiatives, I strongly agree.
>>
>> Seeing all the "empty talkers" from my country run for charter
>> membership and still not having geoserver, which is the most mature open
>> geospatial product I can think of pas incubation made me completely lose
>> interest in OSGeo.
>>
>> I am disappointed, a little frustrated and plotting a business course
>> that values open source and open knowledge. OSGeo or any in-crowd will
>> have no part in my future.
>>
>> Thank you for your honest and to the point analyses.
>>
>> Milo
>>

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[hidden email]
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Re: [Board] OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

Siki Zoltan
In reply to this post by Massimiliano Cannata

+1

Zoltan

On Sat, 26 Sep 2015, Massimiliano Cannata wrote:

> Darrel YOU ARE WRONG.... BUT
> osgeo is a great and successful community and this alone desrve the OSGeo
> existence.
>
> Before we only had project oriented communities (mapserver, grass,  etc).
> But now we have a place in the network to get togheter with all projects
> and users. Aren't we using stack of softwere instead of a single solution
> very often?
> FOSS4G is where we exchange ideas, create innovation and get fun also.
>
> Some excellent work is done also in some working groups... incubation and
> geo4all for example...
>
> So you are WRONG!
>
> BUT.... i have to agree that things could even be better :-)
> In my opinion (and this is part of my manifesto even if i still have one
> more year to serve the board):
> - we need to redefine objectives of the association cause things have
> changed (reault framework...)
> - we need to better promote our valuable software and community (marketing.
> ..)
> - we need to review and redefine rules so that they are transparent and
> clear (communication... )
> - we need to lower the rates of our international meetings to be more
> inclusive
> - we need a plan for investment (investment plan..)
>
> So i call for a face2face meeting of 2 days of all the board members in the
> next months to discuss all these points.
> Apparently the last board was not able to set a date, but i'm keen that the
> new board will be able to do it. It will aslo he agood starting point to
> define our working plan...
>
> The i call all of you charter member to help and do things... continuing in
> shaking the community but also propose and act to make the world a better
> place. Then if you think the world would be better without osgeo... well...
> be part of the community is not mandatory :-)
>
> Best
> Proudly member of osgeo
> Maxi
> Il 25/Set/2015 21:57, "Darrell Fuhriman" <[hidden email]> ha scritto:
>
>> The recent discussion on the board list
>> <https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2015-September/013172.html> that
>> came out of the question of the 2014 videos has got me thinking about a few
>> things again, and I want to try to get them out there.
>>
>> Grab a mug of your favorite liquid and hunker down, because I put some
>> time and effort into this, and your own well considered reply is
>> appreciated.
>>
>> Keep in mind that all of these comments are coming from my personal
>> perspective, which, like everyone˙˙s, is an incomplete picture of the whole.
>> Much of what I˙˙m going to say has been rolling around my head for a while,
>> so I˙˙m just going to put it out there.
>> I will start with a provocative thesis:
>>
>> OSGeo lacks visionary unified leadership and without it will become
>> irrelevant.
>>
>> Of course, making such a claim requires support. So let me break down the
>> statement.
>>
>> ˙˙Visionary leadership˙˙ is really two things, ˙˙vision˙˙ and ˙˙leadership.˙˙ I
>> will address each in turn.
>> OSGeo lacks vision
>> I looked at the list of ˙˙Goals˙˙ for OSGeo
>> <http://www.osgeo.org/content/foundation/about.html>. I wonder: when was
>> the last time these goals were evaluated for both success and relevancy?
>>
>> Here is my own opinion of success of some of  these goals. (In the
>> interest of brevity, I haven˙˙t tried to tackle everything. That˙˙s left as
>> an exercise to the reader.)
>>
>> Example 1
>> To provide resources for foundation projects - eg. infrastructure,
>> funding, legal.
>>
>> Allow me to break each of those examples down.
>> Infrastructure
>> It˙˙s true that OSGeo provides some infrastructure, such as Trac instance,
>> Mailman, SVN repos. If the budget is to be believed, we pay some $3,500/yr
>> to OSUOSL for said infrastructure. I wonder if such a service is necessary,
>> however. Issue tracking and source control are much better provided by
>> Github, which is free for organization such as ours.
>> I say this because a) that˙˙s money that could be better spent elsewhere
>> and b) supporting these services burns precious volunteer time (more on
>> that below).
>>
>> There are clear cost savings available, which are not taken advantage of.
>> For example, OSGeo could be hosting FOSS4G infrastructure: conference
>> websites and registration, a central location for conference videos
>> (regardless of platform/provider). This neglect is especially galling given
>> that FOSS4G is OSGeo˙˙s sole source of income.
>> Funding
>>
>> OSGeo does not fund projects. It has provided some funds to pay for Code
>> Sprints ˙˙ $15k in 2014 according to the budget
>> <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/OSGeo_Budget_2014>.
>> Legal
>>
>> I see nothing that has been done on this front recently. Please feel free
>> to correct me.
>> Conclusion
>>
>> OSGeo, where it actually does what it claims, has not adapted in ways that
>> could save money.
>>
>> My grade: D
>> Example 2
>> To promote freely available geodata - free software is useless without
>> data.
>>
>> The geodata working group is dead. As near as I can tell by perusing the
>> mailing list archives, and the wiki, there has been no meaningful activity
>> in the past two years (maybe more).
>>
>> My grade: F
>> Example 3
>> To promote the use of open source software in the geospatial industry (not
>> just foundation software) - eg. PR, training, outreach.
>>
>> The Board of Directors
>> <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Board_of_Directors#Packaging_and_Marketing>
>> page says:
>> Packaging and Marketing
>>
>> OSGeo˙˙s marketing effort has primarily been focused around the packaging
>> and documentation efforts of OSGeo-Live, and to a lesser extend[sic],
>> osgeo4w. [˙˙] It has been entirely driven by volunteer labour, with 140
>> OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been covered by local events
>> or sponsors. In the last couple of years, OSGeo has covered local chapter
>> expenses required to purchase non-consumable items for conference booths
>> (such as a retractable banner). In moving forward, OSGeo hope to extend
>> marketing reach by providing co-contributions toward printing costs of
>> consumable items at conferences, such as toward OSGeo-Live DVDs.
>> Local Chapters
>> Much of OSGeo˙˙s marketing initiates are applied at the local level. In
>> many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email list and
>> wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering to pay for an
>> Exhibition starter pack for local chapters. Local chapters are also usually
>> the coordinators of conferences and related events, as mentioned above.
>>
>> Exhibition starter packs almost never happen; OSGeo-Live explicitly gets
>> no support; and OSGeo struggles to staff a booth at its own conference to
>> say nothing of any other conferences.
>>
>> Note: Local chapters certainly do do marketing and outreach, but these
>> efforts are essentially unsupported by the OSGeo Foundation. In fact, this
>> goal and the Board of Directors webpage seem to be explicitly
>> contradictory.
>>
>> My grade: F.
>> Commentary
>> I could go on with my own personal evaluations, but I˙˙m not sure that˙˙s
>> necessary. The only place I see that OSGeo has unquestionably succeeded in
>> the past few years is the final goal, ˙˙To award the Sol Katz award for
>> service to the OSGeo community˙˙.
>>
>> So, what˙˙s my point here? It˙˙s simple: there is no longer a coherent
>> vision for what OSGeo should be. I˙˙ll return to that below, but let me
>> continue with my other point.
>>
>> OSGeo lacks leadership
>> Again quoting the Board of Directors˙˙ page:
>>
>> The board˙˙s primary responsibility is to efficiently and effectively make
>> strategic decisions related to the running of OSGeo.
>>
>> I won˙˙t bore you with the details, but a perusal of the board meeting
>> minutes would indicate that strategy is rarely, if ever, a part of the
>> meetings.
>>
>> The emphasis on consensus-based decision making often leads to no
>> decisions being made. I can˙˙t count the number of discussions that have
>> come up on the board list only to devolve into a morass of nit-picking and
>> eventual lack of action when everyone tires of the discussion. What action
>> that is taken is often to ˙˙delegate˙˙ to a (possibly inactive)
>> sub-committee, then never follow up.
>>
>> Instead what we have is a great deal of inertia, little interest in
>> changing things, and no clear indication of what the Board˙˙s priorities are.
>>
>> If priorities do exist, they˙˙re lost in a maze of confusing, incomplete
>> and often contradictory information on the wiki. (Wikis ˙˙ like abandonware
>> for documentation.)
>> On pending irrelevancy
>> I encourage you to ask some random people in the open source geospatial
>> community what OSGeo means to them. I would make a bet that the most common
>> answer is a blank stare.
>>
>> I would ask the board members to come up with three things, other than
>> FOSS4G, where the OSGeo membership has shown its importance to the
>> community as a whole in the last two years. Something where people say,
>> ˙˙Did you hear about [exciting thing] OSGeo is doing on X?˙˙ To be clear, I
>> don˙˙t mean just things that OSGeo has a finger in, but things that need
>> OSGeo. If OSGeo disappeared tomorrow, would any of these projects be
>> significantly affected?
>>
>> I don˙˙t think it can be done. The OSGeo Foundation is sliding into
>> irrelevancy ˙˙ and it may already be there.
>>
>> If anything should be seen as strategic for OSGeo, it˙˙s FOSS4G, the
>> foundation˙˙s primary (sole?) source of income. Even regarding its flagship
>> public event, the board is largely absent. Rather than provide adequate
>> resources and planning, they instead rely on burning out volunteers, then
>> make post-hoc demands on the way they should have done it, provide no
>> future support for organizers to heed those demands, rarely follow up, then
>> go on to repeat the same mistakes the following year.  Honestly, it˙˙s
>> surprising that FOSS4G has failed only once. (I think this is a reflection
>> of the demand for the conference, not the blazing competence of OSGeo.)
>>
>> Michael Gerlek brought this up
>> <https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-July/014521.html> on the
>> osgeo-discuss list in July, and probably has a more generous spin on it. He
>> essentially argues that it˙˙s time to declare mission accomplished and shut
>> down or rebooted. I agree with his points, and I˙˙m arguing that OSGeo can
>> have something to offer, but it will require a major re-think of its
>> mission.
>>
>> Fixing things
>> I hinted at this in my recent questions to the board candidates, but I
>> want to be explicit here: OSGeo needs to evolve or die.
>>
>> Here˙˙s how I would do it:
>>
>>
>>    1.
>>
>>    The board needs to evaluate all of its goals, as defined on the About
>>    page, to decide if they are still truly goals. Define any new goals.
>>    2.
>>
>>    Ask the question: ˙˙What does it mean to succeed at this goal?˙˙
>>
>> If the goal is vague, or ongoing, give a timeline: ˙˙What does success look
>> like for this goal one year from now?˙˙
>>
>>
>>    1.
>>
>>    Create measureable objectives for achieving those goals. Ask the
>>    question, ˙˙How will we know if we˙˙ve succeeded?˙˙
>>    2.
>>
>>    Prioritize the goals.
>>    3.
>>
>>    Allocate resources to the goals.
>>
>> Obviously this is a tricky one, but I think we can look at this a balance
>> between Importance and Effort.
>>
>>
>> Spend money to reduce to the effort required, more money if the goal is
>> more important ˙˙ this might be the hardest cultural shift. Volunteer time
>> is precious and easily discouraged. Make sure that you make it as efficient
>> as possible by spending money when you can.
>>
>>
>> For example, many of the infrastructure services OSGeo provides can be
>> easily outsourced to more featureful services that are more responsive and
>> rely less on volunteer labor.
>>
>>
>>    1.
>>
>>    Close the loop on tasks. When a task is delegated to a committee or
>>    individual, track its progress, both to know that it is or isn˙˙t happening,
>>    and to be able to acknowledge and incorporate the work when it˙˙s done.
>>    Failing to acknowledge people˙˙s labor or to use the results of that labor
>>    will virtually guarantee that the volunteer does not continue to help.
>>    2.
>>
>>    Evaluate success and failure.  GOTO 1.
>>
>> Aside: none if this will happen without a strong executive. Whether that
>> position is paid or not is up to the board, but it˙˙s clear that there needs
>> to be someone who can make decisions without endless rounds of fruitless
>> discussions. The board as currently constituted is not dysfunctional, but
>> it is mostly afunctional.
>>
>> I˙˙m will go so far as to suggest this: Fly every board member who is
>> available to a two or three day retreat. Get everyone in the same room, a
>> professional facilitator to speed the process, then figure out what OSGeo
>> is going to be and how to get there. Don˙˙t fret excessively about the
>> expense ˙˙ this isn˙˙t about saving money, it˙˙s about saving OSGeo.
>>
>> If you ask me, irrelevancy is a fate worse than death. Be bold! It˙˙s
>> better to try to do something big and new then fail than to simply fade
>> away and be forgotten.
>> Though my comments above may sound harsh, they are sent with the very best
>> of intentions. I want OSGeo to succeed, but OSGeo is never going to succeed
>> if it doesn˙˙t know what it˙˙s try to succeed at. Without real reform, I
>> don˙˙t see success happening, just irrelevance. Here˙˙s hoping this gets the
>> ball rolling.
>>
>> Darrell
>>
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> Board mailing list
>> [hidden email]
>> http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/board
>>
>
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Re: [Board] OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

Maria Antonia Brovelli
+ 1

Maria


----------------------------------------------------
See you at FOSS4G Seoul: 
http://2015.foss4g.org/
----------------------------------------------------

Prof. Maria Antonia Brovelli
Vice Rector for Como Campus and GIS Professor
Politecnico di Milano

ISPRS WG IV/5 "Web and Cloud Based Geospatial Services and Applications"; OSGeo; GeoForAll Advisory Board; NASA WorldWind Europa Challenge; SIFET 

<a href="x-apple-data-detectors://1/0" x-apple-data-detectors="true" x-apple-data-detectors-type="address" x-apple-data-detectors-result="1/0">Via Natta, 12/14 - 22100 COMO (ITALY)

Tel. <a href="tel:+39-031-3327336" x-apple-data-detectors="true" x-apple-data-detectors-type="telephone" x-apple-data-detectors-result="1/1">+39-031-3327336 - Mob. <a href="tel:+39-328-0023867" x-apple-data-detectors="true" x-apple-data-detectors-type="telephone" x-apple-data-detectors-result="1/2">+39-328-0023867 - fax. <a href="tel:+39-031-3327321" x-apple-data-detectors="true" x-apple-data-detectors-type="telephone" x-apple-data-detectors-result="1/3">+39-031-3327321

e-mail1: [hidden email][hidden email]

e-mail2[hidden email]


Il giorno 26/set/2015, alle ore 20:35, Siki Zoltan <[hidden email]> ha scritto:


+1

Zoltan

On Sat, 26 Sep 2015, Massimiliano Cannata wrote:

Darrel YOU ARE WRONG.... BUT
osgeo is a great and successful community and this alone desrve the OSGeo
existence.

Before we only had project oriented communities (mapserver, grass,  etc).
But now we have a place in the network to get togheter with all projects
and users. Aren't we using stack of softwere instead of a single solution
very often?
FOSS4G is where we exchange ideas, create innovation and get fun also.

Some excellent work is done also in some working groups... incubation and
geo4all for example...

So you are WRONG!

BUT.... i have to agree that things could even be better :-)
In my opinion (and this is part of my manifesto even if i still have one
more year to serve the board):
- we need to redefine objectives of the association cause things have
changed (reault framework...)
- we need to better promote our valuable software and community (marketing.
..)
- we need to review and redefine rules so that they are transparent and
clear (communication... )
- we need to lower the rates of our international meetings to be more
inclusive
- we need a plan for investment (investment plan..)

So i call for a face2face meeting of 2 days of all the board members in the
next months to discuss all these points.
Apparently the last board was not able to set a date, but i'm keen that the
new board will be able to do it. It will aslo he agood starting point to
define our working plan...

The i call all of you charter member to help and do things... continuing in
shaking the community but also propose and act to make the world a better
place. Then if you think the world would be better without osgeo... well...
be part of the community is not mandatory :-)

Best
Proudly member of osgeo
Maxi
Il 25/Set/2015 21:57, "Darrell Fuhriman" <[hidden email]> ha scritto:

The recent discussion on the board list
<https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2015-September/013172.html> that
came out of the question of the 2014 videos has got me thinking about a few
things again, and I want to try to get them out there.

Grab a mug of your favorite liquid and hunker down, because I put some
time and effort into this, and your own well considered reply is
appreciated.

Keep in mind that all of these comments are coming from my personal
perspective, which, like everyone˙˙s, is an incomplete picture of the whole.
Much of what I˙˙m going to say has been rolling around my head for a while,
so I˙˙m just going to put it out there.
I will start with a provocative thesis:

OSGeo lacks visionary unified leadership and without it will become
irrelevant.

Of course, making such a claim requires support. So let me break down the
statement.

˙˙Visionary leadership˙˙ is really two things, ˙˙vision˙˙ and ˙˙leadership.˙˙ I
will address each in turn.
OSGeo lacks vision
I looked at the list of ˙˙Goals˙˙ for OSGeo
<http://www.osgeo.org/content/foundation/about.html>. I wonder: when was
the last time these goals were evaluated for both success and relevancy?

Here is my own opinion of success of some of  these goals. (In the
interest of brevity, I haven˙˙t tried to tackle everything. That˙˙s left as
an exercise to the reader.)

Example 1
To provide resources for foundation projects - eg. infrastructure,
funding, legal.

Allow me to break each of those examples down.
Infrastructure
It˙˙s true that OSGeo provides some infrastructure, such as Trac instance,
Mailman, SVN repos. If the budget is to be believed, we pay some $3,500/yr
to OSUOSL for said infrastructure. I wonder if such a service is necessary,
however. Issue tracking and source control are much better provided by
Github, which is free for organization such as ours.
I say this because a) that˙˙s money that could be better spent elsewhere
and b) supporting these services burns precious volunteer time (more on
that below).

There are clear cost savings available, which are not taken advantage of.
For example, OSGeo could be hosting FOSS4G infrastructure: conference
websites and registration, a central location for conference videos
(regardless of platform/provider). This neglect is especially galling given
that FOSS4G is OSGeo˙˙s sole source of income.
Funding

OSGeo does not fund projects. It has provided some funds to pay for Code
Sprints ˙˙ $15k in 2014 according to the budget
<http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/OSGeo_Budget_2014>.
Legal

I see nothing that has been done on this front recently. Please feel free
to correct me.
Conclusion

OSGeo, where it actually does what it claims, has not adapted in ways that
could save money.

My grade: D
Example 2
To promote freely available geodata - free software is useless without
data.

The geodata working group is dead. As near as I can tell by perusing the
mailing list archives, and the wiki, there has been no meaningful activity
in the past two years (maybe more).

My grade: F
Example 3
To promote the use of open source software in the geospatial industry (not
just foundation software) - eg. PR, training, outreach.

The Board of Directors
<http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Board_of_Directors#Packaging_and_Marketing>
page says:
Packaging and Marketing

OSGeo˙˙s marketing effort has primarily been focused around the packaging
and documentation efforts of OSGeo-Live, and to a lesser extend[sic],
osgeo4w. [˙˙] It has been entirely driven by volunteer labour, with 140
OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been covered by local events
or sponsors. In the last couple of years, OSGeo has covered local chapter
expenses required to purchase non-consumable items for conference booths
(such as a retractable banner). In moving forward, OSGeo hope to extend
marketing reach by providing co-contributions toward printing costs of
consumable items at conferences, such as toward OSGeo-Live DVDs.
Local Chapters
Much of OSGeo˙˙s marketing initiates are applied at the local level. In
many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email list and
wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering to pay for an
Exhibition starter pack for local chapters. Local chapters are also usually
the coordinators of conferences and related events, as mentioned above.

Exhibition starter packs almost never happen; OSGeo-Live explicitly gets
no support; and OSGeo struggles to staff a booth at its own conference to
say nothing of any other conferences.

Note: Local chapters certainly do do marketing and outreach, but these
efforts are essentially unsupported by the OSGeo Foundation. In fact, this
goal and the Board of Directors webpage seem to be explicitly
contradictory.

My grade: F.
Commentary
I could go on with my own personal evaluations, but I˙˙m not sure that˙˙s
necessary. The only place I see that OSGeo has unquestionably succeeded in
the past few years is the final goal, ˙˙To award the Sol Katz award for
service to the OSGeo community˙˙.

So, what˙˙s my point here? It˙˙s simple: there is no longer a coherent
vision for what OSGeo should be. I˙˙ll return to that below, but let me
continue with my other point.

OSGeo lacks leadership
Again quoting the Board of Directors˙˙ page:

The board˙˙s primary responsibility is to efficiently and effectively make
strategic decisions related to the running of OSGeo.

I won˙˙t bore you with the details, but a perusal of the board meeting
minutes would indicate that strategy is rarely, if ever, a part of the
meetings.

The emphasis on consensus-based decision making often leads to no
decisions being made. I can˙˙t count the number of discussions that have
come up on the board list only to devolve into a morass of nit-picking and
eventual lack of action when everyone tires of the discussion. What action
that is taken is often to ˙˙delegate˙˙ to a (possibly inactive)
sub-committee, then never follow up.

Instead what we have is a great deal of inertia, little interest in
changing things, and no clear indication of what the Board˙˙s priorities are.

If priorities do exist, they˙˙re lost in a maze of confusing, incomplete
and often contradictory information on the wiki. (Wikis ˙˙ like abandonware
for documentation.)
On pending irrelevancy
I encourage you to ask some random people in the open source geospatial
community what OSGeo means to them. I would make a bet that the most common
answer is a blank stare.

I would ask the board members to come up with three things, other than
FOSS4G, where the OSGeo membership has shown its importance to the
community as a whole in the last two years. Something where people say,
˙˙Did you hear about [exciting thing] OSGeo is doing on X?˙˙ To be clear, I
don˙˙t mean just things that OSGeo has a finger in, but things that need
OSGeo. If OSGeo disappeared tomorrow, would any of these projects be
significantly affected?

I don˙˙t think it can be done. The OSGeo Foundation is sliding into
irrelevancy ˙˙ and it may already be there.

If anything should be seen as strategic for OSGeo, it˙˙s FOSS4G, the
foundation˙˙s primary (sole?) source of income. Even regarding its flagship
public event, the board is largely absent. Rather than provide adequate
resources and planning, they instead rely on burning out volunteers, then
make post-hoc demands on the way they should have done it, provide no
future support for organizers to heed those demands, rarely follow up, then
go on to repeat the same mistakes the following year.  Honestly, it˙˙s
surprising that FOSS4G has failed only once. (I think this is a reflection
of the demand for the conference, not the blazing competence of OSGeo.)

Michael Gerlek brought this up
<https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-July/014521.html> on the
osgeo-discuss list in July, and probably has a more generous spin on it. He
essentially argues that it˙˙s time to declare mission accomplished and shut
down or rebooted. I agree with his points, and I˙˙m arguing that OSGeo can
have something to offer, but it will require a major re-think of its
mission.

Fixing things
I hinted at this in my recent questions to the board candidates, but I
want to be explicit here: OSGeo needs to evolve or die.

Here˙˙s how I would do it:


  1.

  The board needs to evaluate all of its goals, as defined on the About
  page, to decide if they are still truly goals. Define any new goals.
  2.

  Ask the question: ˙˙What does it mean to succeed at this goal?˙˙

If the goal is vague, or ongoing, give a timeline: ˙˙What does success look
like for this goal one year from now?˙˙


  1.

  Create measureable objectives for achieving those goals. Ask the
  question, ˙˙How will we know if we˙˙ve succeeded?˙˙
  2.

  Prioritize the goals.
  3.

  Allocate resources to the goals.

Obviously this is a tricky one, but I think we can look at this a balance
between Importance and Effort.


Spend money to reduce to the effort required, more money if the goal is
more important ˙˙ this might be the hardest cultural shift. Volunteer time
is precious and easily discouraged. Make sure that you make it as efficient
as possible by spending money when you can.


For example, many of the infrastructure services OSGeo provides can be
easily outsourced to more featureful services that are more responsive and
rely less on volunteer labor.


  1.

  Close the loop on tasks. When a task is delegated to a committee or
  individual, track its progress, both to know that it is or isn˙˙t happening,
  and to be able to acknowledge and incorporate the work when it˙˙s done.
  Failing to acknowledge people˙˙s labor or to use the results of that labor
  will virtually guarantee that the volunteer does not continue to help.
  2.

  Evaluate success and failure.  GOTO 1.

Aside: none if this will happen without a strong executive. Whether that
position is paid or not is up to the board, but it˙˙s clear that there needs
to be someone who can make decisions without endless rounds of fruitless
discussions. The board as currently constituted is not dysfunctional, but
it is mostly afunctional.

I˙˙m will go so far as to suggest this: Fly every board member who is
available to a two or three day retreat. Get everyone in the same room, a
professional facilitator to speed the process, then figure out what OSGeo
is going to be and how to get there. Don˙˙t fret excessively about the
expense ˙˙ this isn˙˙t about saving money, it˙˙s about saving OSGeo.

If you ask me, irrelevancy is a fate worse than death. Be bold! It˙˙s
better to try to do something big and new then fail than to simply fade
away and be forgotten.
Though my comments above may sound harsh, they are sent with the very best
of intentions. I want OSGeo to succeed, but OSGeo is never going to succeed
if it doesn˙˙t know what it˙˙s try to succeed at. Without real reform, I
don˙˙t see success happening, just irrelevance. Here˙˙s hoping this gets the
ball rolling.

Darrell


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[hidden email]
http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/board

_______________________________________________
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[hidden email]
http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss

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Re: OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

Sanghee Shin
In reply to this post by Darrell Fuhriman
Dear All,

I think OSGeo is a body or carrier to carry the spirit of the open source to the world. OSGeo is copper wire to transmit electricity to remote place. Electricity had been there long before the invention of copper wire. We invented copper wire to carry electricity to remote place and now realised copper wire caused the many electricity loss because of rust or noise.

Back to Darrell’s question. Both need both. Just like body needs spirit, electricity needs wire.

Back to Darrell’s question again. What will happen if OSGeo disappear? There will not be official invitation to UN-GGIM conference by UN. There was a meeting between UN Geospatial Section and OSGeo Board during the FOSS4G Seoul for the future cooperation. And there might be no MOU between LH Corp(which has 16,000 employees in Korea) and OSGeo. Consequently the spread of open source GIS in Korea might have been slowed down drastically. It’s just like losing all your copper wire to connect your electricity to your device. What about the Geo4All initiatives? I don’t think this wonderful achievement was possible without OSGeo.

About OSGeo’ death, I’ll not be surprised or care much about whether OSGeo die this evening. There’s nothing immortal. If OSGeo fully seed and spread the spirit of open source, who cares if the body die or not. Spirit eventually bear fruits. The real thing we should be worried about is the spiritual dead.

The problem of recent OSGeo is that it has grown too fast recently just like teenagers. It looks like adult however still young and is not capable of doing many things. It is just embarrassed with many sudden request and callings. So, what should we do now to look after this teenager? First we need to be proud of what it has accomplished so far and give it a cheer. And then sit down together to talk about the future positively, if I’m a father.

Having seen the OSGeo since 2006, I believe we can be proud of OSGeo and it’s achievements. I don’t think we need to reinvent the wheel once again and still can fix it at the moment.

All the best,

신상희
---
Shin, Sanghee
Gaia3D, Inc. - The GeoSpatial Company
http://www.gaia3d.com 

> 2015. 9. 26., 오후 4:20, Darrell Fuhriman <[hidden email]> 작성:
>
> This is a perfect example.
>
> All of those are great and wonderful things! The community does great and wonderful things. That’ s not my point.
>
> My point is, those activities would happen even if the OSGeo Foundation disappeared. I’m not questioning whether we have a large and vibrant community, we do. And we still would.
>
> My local chapter existed before it was an OSGeo chapter, and we would keep on having meetings and doing fun and exciting things even without the OSGeo Foundation.
>
> Put another way: The OSGeo Foundation needs the Open Source Geospatial community, but does the Open Source Geospatial community need the OSGeo Foundation? I don’t see that it does.
>
> Darrell
>
>
>
>
>> On Sep 26, 2015, at 05:29, Just van den Broecke <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> Dear Milo,
>>
>> That you agree Darrel's statements is your opinion and fine in any open discussion.
>>
>> I react here on your phrase: '"empty talkers" from my country run for charter membership'.
>>
>> We have 9 Charter Members from the Netherlands, including me. I know each of them, and IMO they are far from "empty talkers". They all spend long voluntary hours in an array of activities that support OSGeo's global and OSGeo.nl local mission and FOSS in general. To name a few:
>> Sebastiaan Couwenberg (2015) spends ample time in Debian packaging
>> Barend Köbben (2012) helping/speaking at FOSS4G, org academic track
>> We all know what Jeroen and Bart have accomplished. I could go on. Not all charter members need to make software, some make things happen like organizing local OSGeo.nl events and acting in the LOC for the upcoming FOSS4G in Bonn.
>>
>> So I hope your "empty talkers" phrase came out of a sudden impulse, that we all have from time to time. I had to react to clarify some things. Best,
>>
>> Just van den Broecke
>> Secretary OSGeo.nl Foundation
>>
>>
>> On 26-09-15 00:12, Milo van der Linden wrote:
>>> Being a "don't talk, act" member since 2008, entrepreneur and former
>>> chairman of a couple of local initiatives, I strongly agree.
>>>
>>> Seeing all the "empty talkers" from my country run for charter
>>> membership and still not having geoserver, which is the most mature open
>>> geospatial product I can think of pas incubation made me completely lose
>>> interest in OSGeo.
>>>
>>> I am disappointed, a little frustrated and plotting a business course
>>> that values open source and open knowledge. OSGeo or any in-crowd will
>>> have no part in my future.
>>>
>>> Thank you for your honest and to the point analyses.
>>>
>>> Milo
>>>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss

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Re: OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

fgdrf
In reply to this post by Jo Cook
Thanks Darrell for such a clear and structured statement.
I'd like to add a few thoughts. First I'd like to aggree to the infrastructure thing, in times Open Source projects can get a space (SCM, Ticket system, Build infrastructure, etc) for free everywhere it's kind of wired OSGeo paying for it. Like Jo noticed, things changing over time and maybe here projects can move forward - e.g. like GeoTools and GeoServer did. The point was and still is, that's not OSGeo driven to provide a common infrastructure for OSGeo projects. Each project cares about it's own setup and that burns a lot of volunteering time. However, maybe here can start the discussion, if that would be a benefit for projects.
IMHO FOSS4G is a brand, wheras OSGeo isn't. I never has been involved yet organizing a FOSS4G but it sounds like a hugh effort from local teams slightly supported by OSGeo. I love FOSS4G's because its a chance to have face to face meetings with Contributors and Users from all over the world. In the past I remember the WMS shootouts where I got the impression, OSGeo/FOSS4G is the best place it can be happen: Several projects in a battle to improve these all together. Thats making the world a better place..
On other levels, would it be worth to setup similiar competitions for other fields: Tile caches, Desktop clients, Processing Implementations and so on. Would that help to push projects and provide comparable values between OS and proprietary projects.
 
Same for codesprints and hackathons... Sponsoring such events helps growing community, improving projects and finally helps users who using this great software stack
How can OSGeo help creating Solutions with Components of this stack. OSGeo Live is the first step I guess: Setup things and finding out how the fit together. We learned a lot from other projects within OSGeo live and that improves each project I guess. What's the major output for Users?

What about "Long Term Support", would that be a field OSGeo could help projects and users in the same way?
Maybe we can think about other sponsoring models, where Companies paying anual fees. What could the expect from OSGeo, what would be an added value for these?
And finally, from a uDig perspective: Whats the different between Geospatial organizations such as OSGeo and LocationTech. From my perspective : They have a totally different history, I 'd say community driven vs. company driven, which includes different sponsoring models. Maybe its worth to think about: Whats the driver, the community or the business behind sponsoring companies?

Again, Thank you Darrell for initial post, I guess the discussion helps a lot to get a Strategy for the future

Warm regards, Frank

2015-09-26 15:29 GMT+02:00 Jo Cook <[hidden email]>:

Hi All, and especially Darrel,

In his email Darrel articulated some ideas that I have been having for a couple of years now, but haven't been able to clearly define.

So firstly I'd like to say that I totally agree with Darrel's points (and Michael Gerlek's previously)- OSGeo is definitely in danger of becoming irrelevant. Some of this is down to being a victim of its own success. The projects have, in many cases, matured and become popular to the point where they no longer need OSGeo. I'd really like to see a thorough assessment of our goals and objectives to decide what is still important. The availability of infrastructure, version control, open data, etc have improved massively over the last 5 years so now is a great time for a real spring-clean and decide what we need to keep and what we don't.

What does the world really need from OSGeo that it can't get from anyone else? What problems could we solve moving forward? Those are the things we should focus on.

I'm currently trying to write an article on open geospatial in 2020 and I can honestly say I'm struggling to see a place for OSGeo in it. I'd really like to be proved wrong (and I'd love some predictions for my article, but that's for another discussion).

Thanks

Jo

On 26 Sep 2015 1:40 pm, "Just van den Broecke" <[hidden email]> wrote:
Dear Milo,

That you agree Darrel's statements is your opinion and fine in any open discussion.

I react here on your phrase: '"empty talkers" from my country run for charter membership'.

We have 9 Charter Members from the Netherlands, including me. I know each of them, and IMO they are far from "empty talkers". They all spend long voluntary hours in an array of activities that support OSGeo's global and OSGeo.nl local mission and FOSS in general. To name a few:
Sebastiaan Couwenberg (2015) spends ample time in Debian packaging
Barend Köbben (2012) helping/speaking at FOSS4G, org academic track
We all know what Jeroen and Bart have accomplished. I could go on. Not all charter members need to make software, some make things happen like organizing local OSGeo.nl events and acting in the LOC for the upcoming FOSS4G in Bonn.

So I hope your "empty talkers" phrase came out of a sudden impulse, that we all have from time to time. I had to react to clarify some things. Best,

Just van den Broecke
Secretary OSGeo.nl Foundation


On 26-09-15 00:12, Milo van der Linden wrote:
Being a "don't talk, act" member since 2008, entrepreneur and former
chairman of a couple of local initiatives, I strongly agree.

Seeing all the "empty talkers" from my country run for charter
membership and still not having geoserver, which is the most mature open
geospatial product I can think of pas incubation made me completely lose
interest in OSGeo.

I am disappointed, a little frustrated and plotting a business course
that values open source and open knowledge. OSGeo or any in-crowd will
have no part in my future.

Thank you for your honest and to the point analyses.

Milo

On Sep 25, 2015 21:58, "Darrell Fuhriman" <[hidden email]
<mailto:[hidden email]>> wrote:

    The recent discussion on the board list
    <https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2015-September/013172.html>that
    came out of the question of the 2014 videos has got me thinking
    about a few things again, and I want to try to get them out there.

    Grab a mug of your favorite liquid and hunker down, because I put
    some time and effort into this, and your own well considered reply
    is appreciated.

    Keep in mind that all of these comments are coming from my personal
    perspective, which, like everyone’s, is an incomplete picture of the
    whole. Much of what I’m going to say has been rolling around my head
    for a while, so I’m just going to put it out there.

    I will start with a provocative thesis:

    OSGeo lacks visionary unified leadership and without it will become
    irrelevant.

    Of course, making such a claim requires support. So let me break
    down the statement.

    “Visionary leadership” is really two things, “vision” and
    “leadership.” I will address each in turn.


        OSGeo lacks vision

    I looked at the list of “Goals” for OSGeo
    <http://www.osgeo.org/content/foundation/about.html>. I wonder: when
    was the last time these goals were evaluated for both success and
    relevancy?

    Here is my own opinion of success of some of  these goals. (In the
    interest of brevity, I haven’t tried to tackle everything. That’s
    left as an exercise to the reader.)


          Example 1

    To provide resources for foundation projects - eg. infrastructure,
    funding, legal.

    Allow me to break each of those examples down.


            Infrastructure

    It’s true that OSGeo provides some infrastructure, such as Trac
    instance, Mailman, SVN repos. If the budget is to be believed, we
    pay some $3,500/yr to OSUOSL for said infrastructure. I wonder if
    such a service is necessary, however. Issue tracking and source
    control are much better provided by Github, which is free for
    organization such as ours.
    I say this because a) that’s money that could be better spent
    elsewhere and b) supporting these services burns precious volunteer
    time (more on that below).

    There are clear cost savings available, which are not taken
    advantage of. For example, OSGeo could be hosting FOSS4G
    infrastructure: conference websites and registration, a central
    location for conference videos (regardless of platform/provider).
    This neglect is especially galling given that FOSS4G is OSGeo’s sole
    source of income.


            Funding

    OSGeo does not fund projects. It has provided some funds to pay for
    Code Sprints — $15k in 2014 according to the budget
    <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/OSGeo_Budget_2014>.


            Legal

    I see nothing that has been done on this front recently. Please feel
    free to correct me.


            Conclusion

    OSGeo, where it actually does what it claims, has not adapted in
    ways that could save money.

    My grade: D


        Example 2

    To promote freely available geodata - free software is useless
    without data.

    The geodata working group is dead. As near as I can tell by perusing
    the mailing list archives, and the wiki, there has been no
    meaningful activity in the past two years (maybe more).

    My grade: F


        Example 3

    To promote the use of open source software in the geospatial
    industry (not just foundation software) - eg. PR, training, outreach.

    The Board of Directors
    <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Board_of_Directors#Packaging_and_Marketing>page
    says:


            Packaging and Marketing

    OSGeo’s marketing effort has primarily been focused around the
    packaging and documentation efforts of OSGeo-Live, and to a lesser
    extend[sic], osgeo4w. […] It has been entirely driven by volunteer
    labour, with 140 OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been
    covered by local events or sponsors. In the last couple of years,
    OSGeo has covered local chapter expenses required to purchase
    non-consumable items for conference booths (such as a retractable
    banner). In moving forward, OSGeo hope to extend marketing reach by
    providing co-contributions toward printing costs of consumable items
    at conferences, such as toward OSGeo-Live DVDs.


            Local Chapters

    Much of OSGeo’s marketing initiates are applied at the local level.
    In many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email
    list and wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering
    to pay for an Exhibition starter pack for local chapters. Local
    chapters are also usually the coordinators of conferences and
    related events, as mentioned above.

    Exhibition starter packs almost never happen; OSGeo-Live
    explicitlygets no support; and OSGeo struggles to staff a booth at
    its own conferenceto say nothing of any other conferences.

    Note: Local chapters certainly do do marketing and outreach, but
    these efforts are essentially unsupported by the OSGeo Foundation.
    In fact, this goal and the Board of Directors webpage seem to be
    explicitly contradictory.

    My grade: F.


          Commentary

    I could go on with my own personal evaluations, but I’m not sure
    that’s necessary. The only place I see that OSGeo has unquestionably
    succeeded in the past few years is the final goal, “To award the Sol
    Katz award for service to the OSGeo community”.

    So, what’s my point here? It’s simple: there is no longer a coherent
    vision for what OSGeo should be. I’ll return to that below, but let
    me continue with my other point.


        OSGeo lacks leadership

    Again quoting the Board of Directors’ page:

    The board’s primary responsibility is to efficiently and effectively
    make strategic decisions related to the running of OSGeo.

    I won’t bore you with the details, but a perusal of the board
    meeting minutes would indicate that strategyis rarely, if ever, a
    part of the meetings.

    The emphasis on consensus-based decision making often leads to no
    decisions being made. I can’t count the number of discussions that
    have come up on the board list only to devolve into a morass of
    nit-picking and eventual lack of action when everyone tires of the
    discussion. What action that is taken is often to “delegate” to a
    (possibly inactive) sub-committee, then never follow up.

    Instead what we have is a great deal of inertia, little interest in
    changing things, and no clear indication of what the Board’s
    priorities are.

    If priorities do exist, they’re lost in a maze of confusing,
    incomplete and often contradictory information on the wiki. (Wikis —
    like abandonware for documentation.)


        On pending irrelevancy

    I encourage you to ask some random people in the open source
    geospatial community what OSGeo means to them. I would make a bet
    that the most common answer is a blank stare.

    I would ask the board members to come up with three things, other
    than FOSS4G, where the OSGeo membership has shown its importance to
    the community as a wholein the last two years. Something where
    people say, “Did you hear about[exciting thing]OSGeo is doing on X?”
    To be clear, I don’t mean just things that OSGeo has a finger in,
    but things that needOSGeo. If OSGeo disappeared tomorrow, would any
    of these projects be significantly affected?

    I don’t think it can be done. The OSGeo Foundation is sliding into
    irrelevancy — and it may already be there.

    If anything should be seen as strategic for OSGeo, it’s FOSS4G, the
    foundation’s primary (sole?) source of income. Even regarding its
    flagship public event, the board is largely absent. Rather than
    provide adequate resources and planning, they instead rely on
    burning out volunteers, then make post-hoc demands on the way they
    shouldhave done it, provide no future support for organizers to heed
    those demands, rarely follow up, then go on to repeat the same
    mistakes the following year.  Honestly, it’s surprising that FOSS4G
    has failed only once. (I think this is a reflection of the demand
    for the conference, not the blazing competence of OSGeo.)

    Michael Gerlek brought this up
    <https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-July/014521.html>on
    the osgeo-discuss list in July, and probably has a more generous
    spin on it. He essentially argues that it’s time to declare mission
    accomplished and shut down or rebooted. I agree with his points, and
    I’m arguing that OSGeo can have something to offer, but it will
    require a major re-think of its mission.


        Fixing things

    I hinted at this in my recent questions to the board candidates, but
    I want to be explicit here: OSGeo needs to evolve or die.

    Here’s how I would do it:

     1.

        The board needs to evaluate all of its goals, as defined on the
        About page, to decide if they are still truly goals. Define any
        new goals.

     2.

        Ask the question: “What does it mean to succeed at this goal?”

        If the goal is vague, or ongoing, give a timeline: “What does
        success look like for this goal one year from now?”

     3.

        Create measureable objectives for achieving those goals. Ask the
        question, “How will we know if we’ve succeeded?”

     4.

        Prioritize the goals.

     5.

        Allocate resources to the goals.

        Obviously this is a tricky one, but I think we can look at this
        a balance between Importance and Effort.


        Spend money to reduce to the effort required, more money if the
        goal is more important — this might be the hardest cultural
        shift. Volunteer time is precious and easily discouraged. Make
        sure that you make it as efficient as possible by spending money
        when you can.


        For example, many of the infrastructure services OSGeo provides
        can be easily outsourced to more featureful services that are
        more responsive and rely less on volunteer labor.

     6.

        Close the loop on tasks. When a task is delegated to a committee
        or individual, track its progress, both to know that it is or
        isn’t happening, and to be able to acknowledge and incorporate
        the work when it’s done. Failing to acknowledge people’s labor
        or to use the results of that labor will virtually guarantee
        that the volunteer does not continue to help.

     7.

        Evaluate success and failure.  GOTO 1.

    Aside: none if this will happen without a strong executive. Whether
    that position is paid or not is up to the board, but it’s clear that
    there needs to be someone who can make decisions without endless
    rounds of fruitless discussions. The board as currently constituted
    is not dysfunctional, but it is mostly afunctional.

    I’m will go so far as to suggest this: Fly every board member who is
    available to a two or three day retreat. Get everyone in the same
    room, a professional facilitator to speed the process, then figure
    out what OSGeo is going to be and how to get there. Don’t fret
    excessively about the expense — this isn’t about saving money, it’s
    about saving OSGeo.

    If you ask me, irrelevancy is a fate worse than death. Be bold!It’s
    better to try to do something big and new then fail than to simply
    fade away and be forgotten.

    Though my comments above may sound harsh, they are sent with the
    very best of intentions. I want OSGeo to succeed, but OSGeo is never
    going to succeed if it doesn’t know what it’s try to succeed
    at.Without real reform, I don’t see success happening, just
    irrelevance. Here’s hoping this gets the ball rolling.

    Darrell


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    [hidden email] <mailto:[hidden email]>
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Re: OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

jody.garnett
So far I have enjoyed this thread for the number of ideas it brings forth.

Just want to highlight the small difference between a forge (SourceForge, Google Code, Gitourious, GitHub) and Foundation (OSGeo, Apache, Linux, Eclipse).

Forges tend to focus software version control, build facilities, and artifact hosting. They make money by selling these same facilities to enterprise, while often accepting open source projects "on board" as a form of free advertising.

Foundations focus on projects (license, legal, governance, promotion .. some even include a social agenda). When they make money they do so by providing vendor neutral table for organizations to collaborate together (even if they kick each other under the table on occasion). Software hosting services are incidental to these goals - although some foundations like Apache take on hosting as way to control the legal exposure that comes with hosting code.

One advantage of OSGeo as a foundation is we have the flexibility to allow out project to change up which forge they use over time (seeing projects migrate from cvs, subversion, SourceForge / GoogleCode / GitHub).

For projects OSGeo provides something to "belong to" and a fair brand boost :) 

So yeah, if OSGeo rolled up the carpet we would have to set up another foundation for the projects the next day.
--
Jody

--
Jody Garnett

On 26 September 2015 at 12:38, Frank Gasdorf <[hidden email]> wrote:
Thanks Darrell for such a clear and structured statement.
I'd like to add a few thoughts. First I'd like to aggree to the infrastructure thing, in times Open Source projects can get a space (SCM, Ticket system, Build infrastructure, etc) for free everywhere it's kind of wired OSGeo paying for it. Like Jo noticed, things changing over time and maybe here projects can move forward - e.g. like GeoTools and GeoServer did. The point was and still is, that's not OSGeo driven to provide a common infrastructure for OSGeo projects. Each project cares about it's own setup and that burns a lot of volunteering time. However, maybe here can start the discussion, if that would be a benefit for projects.
IMHO FOSS4G is a brand, wheras OSGeo isn't. I never has been involved yet organizing a FOSS4G but it sounds like a hugh effort from local teams slightly supported by OSGeo. I love FOSS4G's because its a chance to have face to face meetings with Contributors and Users from all over the world. In the past I remember the WMS shootouts where I got the impression, OSGeo/FOSS4G is the best place it can be happen: Several projects in a battle to improve these all together. Thats making the world a better place..
On other levels, would it be worth to setup similiar competitions for other fields: Tile caches, Desktop clients, Processing Implementations and so on. Would that help to push projects and provide comparable values between OS and proprietary projects.
 
Same for codesprints and hackathons... Sponsoring such events helps growing community, improving projects and finally helps users who using this great software stack
How can OSGeo help creating Solutions with Components of this stack. OSGeo Live is the first step I guess: Setup things and finding out how the fit together. We learned a lot from other projects within OSGeo live and that improves each project I guess. What's the major output for Users?

What about "Long Term Support", would that be a field OSGeo could help projects and users in the same way?
Maybe we can think about other sponsoring models, where Companies paying anual fees. What could the expect from OSGeo, what would be an added value for these?
And finally, from a uDig perspective: Whats the different between Geospatial organizations such as OSGeo and LocationTech. From my perspective : They have a totally different history, I 'd say community driven vs. company driven, which includes different sponsoring models. Maybe its worth to think about: Whats the driver, the community or the business behind sponsoring companies?

Again, Thank you Darrell for initial post, I guess the discussion helps a lot to get a Strategy for the future

Warm regards, Frank

2015-09-26 15:29 GMT+02:00 Jo Cook <[hidden email]>:

Hi All, and especially Darrel,

In his email Darrel articulated some ideas that I have been having for a couple of years now, but haven't been able to clearly define.

So firstly I'd like to say that I totally agree with Darrel's points (and Michael Gerlek's previously)- OSGeo is definitely in danger of becoming irrelevant. Some of this is down to being a victim of its own success. The projects have, in many cases, matured and become popular to the point where they no longer need OSGeo. I'd really like to see a thorough assessment of our goals and objectives to decide what is still important. The availability of infrastructure, version control, open data, etc have improved massively over the last 5 years so now is a great time for a real spring-clean and decide what we need to keep and what we don't.

What does the world really need from OSGeo that it can't get from anyone else? What problems could we solve moving forward? Those are the things we should focus on.

I'm currently trying to write an article on open geospatial in 2020 and I can honestly say I'm struggling to see a place for OSGeo in it. I'd really like to be proved wrong (and I'd love some predictions for my article, but that's for another discussion).

Thanks

Jo

On 26 Sep 2015 1:40 pm, "Just van den Broecke" <[hidden email]> wrote:
Dear Milo,

That you agree Darrel's statements is your opinion and fine in any open discussion.

I react here on your phrase: '"empty talkers" from my country run for charter membership'.

We have 9 Charter Members from the Netherlands, including me. I know each of them, and IMO they are far from "empty talkers". They all spend long voluntary hours in an array of activities that support OSGeo's global and OSGeo.nl local mission and FOSS in general. To name a few:
Sebastiaan Couwenberg (2015) spends ample time in Debian packaging
Barend Köbben (2012) helping/speaking at FOSS4G, org academic track
We all know what Jeroen and Bart have accomplished. I could go on. Not all charter members need to make software, some make things happen like organizing local OSGeo.nl events and acting in the LOC for the upcoming FOSS4G in Bonn.

So I hope your "empty talkers" phrase came out of a sudden impulse, that we all have from time to time. I had to react to clarify some things. Best,

Just van den Broecke
Secretary OSGeo.nl Foundation


On 26-09-15 00:12, Milo van der Linden wrote:
Being a "don't talk, act" member since 2008, entrepreneur and former
chairman of a couple of local initiatives, I strongly agree.

Seeing all the "empty talkers" from my country run for charter
membership and still not having geoserver, which is the most mature open
geospatial product I can think of pas incubation made me completely lose
interest in OSGeo.

I am disappointed, a little frustrated and plotting a business course
that values open source and open knowledge. OSGeo or any in-crowd will
have no part in my future.

Thank you for your honest and to the point analyses.

Milo

On Sep 25, 2015 21:58, "Darrell Fuhriman" <[hidden email]
<mailto:[hidden email]>> wrote:

    The recent discussion on the board list
    <https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2015-September/013172.html>that
    came out of the question of the 2014 videos has got me thinking
    about a few things again, and I want to try to get them out there.

    Grab a mug of your favorite liquid and hunker down, because I put
    some time and effort into this, and your own well considered reply
    is appreciated.

    Keep in mind that all of these comments are coming from my personal
    perspective, which, like everyone’s, is an incomplete picture of the
    whole. Much of what I’m going to say has been rolling around my head
    for a while, so I’m just going to put it out there.

    I will start with a provocative thesis:

    OSGeo lacks visionary unified leadership and without it will become
    irrelevant.

    Of course, making such a claim requires support. So let me break
    down the statement.

    “Visionary leadership” is really two things, “vision” and
    “leadership.” I will address each in turn.


        OSGeo lacks vision

    I looked at the list of “Goals” for OSGeo
    <http://www.osgeo.org/content/foundation/about.html>. I wonder: when
    was the last time these goals were evaluated for both success and
    relevancy?

    Here is my own opinion of success of some of  these goals. (In the
    interest of brevity, I haven’t tried to tackle everything. That’s
    left as an exercise to the reader.)


          Example 1

    To provide resources for foundation projects - eg. infrastructure,
    funding, legal.

    Allow me to break each of those examples down.


            Infrastructure

    It’s true that OSGeo provides some infrastructure, such as Trac
    instance, Mailman, SVN repos. If the budget is to be believed, we
    pay some $3,500/yr to OSUOSL for said infrastructure. I wonder if
    such a service is necessary, however. Issue tracking and source
    control are much better provided by Github, which is free for
    organization such as ours.
    I say this because a) that’s money that could be better spent
    elsewhere and b) supporting these services burns precious volunteer
    time (more on that below).

    There are clear cost savings available, which are not taken
    advantage of. For example, OSGeo could be hosting FOSS4G
    infrastructure: conference websites and registration, a central
    location for conference videos (regardless of platform/provider).
    This neglect is especially galling given that FOSS4G is OSGeo’s sole
    source of income.


            Funding

    OSGeo does not fund projects. It has provided some funds to pay for
    Code Sprints — $15k in 2014 according to the budget
    <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/OSGeo_Budget_2014>.


            Legal

    I see nothing that has been done on this front recently. Please feel
    free to correct me.


            Conclusion

    OSGeo, where it actually does what it claims, has not adapted in
    ways that could save money.

    My grade: D


        Example 2

    To promote freely available geodata - free software is useless
    without data.

    The geodata working group is dead. As near as I can tell by perusing
    the mailing list archives, and the wiki, there has been no
    meaningful activity in the past two years (maybe more).

    My grade: F


        Example 3

    To promote the use of open source software in the geospatial
    industry (not just foundation software) - eg. PR, training, outreach.

    The Board of Directors
    <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Board_of_Directors#Packaging_and_Marketing>page
    says:


            Packaging and Marketing

    OSGeo’s marketing effort has primarily been focused around the
    packaging and documentation efforts of OSGeo-Live, and to a lesser
    extend[sic], osgeo4w. […] It has been entirely driven by volunteer
    labour, with 140 OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been
    covered by local events or sponsors. In the last couple of years,
    OSGeo has covered local chapter expenses required to purchase
    non-consumable items for conference booths (such as a retractable
    banner). In moving forward, OSGeo hope to extend marketing reach by
    providing co-contributions toward printing costs of consumable items
    at conferences, such as toward OSGeo-Live DVDs.


            Local Chapters

    Much of OSGeo’s marketing initiates are applied at the local level.
    In many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email
    list and wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering
    to pay for an Exhibition starter pack for local chapters. Local
    chapters are also usually the coordinators of conferences and
    related events, as mentioned above.

    Exhibition starter packs almost never happen; OSGeo-Live
    explicitlygets no support; and OSGeo struggles to staff a booth at
    its own conferenceto say nothing of any other conferences.

    Note: Local chapters certainly do do marketing and outreach, but
    these efforts are essentially unsupported by the OSGeo Foundation.
    In fact, this goal and the Board of Directors webpage seem to be
    explicitly contradictory.

    My grade: F.


          Commentary

    I could go on with my own personal evaluations, but I’m not sure
    that’s necessary. The only place I see that OSGeo has unquestionably
    succeeded in the past few years is the final goal, “To award the Sol
    Katz award for service to the OSGeo community”.

    So, what’s my point here? It’s simple: there is no longer a coherent
    vision for what OSGeo should be. I’ll return to that below, but let
    me continue with my other point.


        OSGeo lacks leadership

    Again quoting the Board of Directors’ page:

    The board’s primary responsibility is to efficiently and effectively
    make strategic decisions related to the running of OSGeo.

    I won’t bore you with the details, but a perusal of the board
    meeting minutes would indicate that strategyis rarely, if ever, a
    part of the meetings.

    The emphasis on consensus-based decision making often leads to no
    decisions being made. I can’t count the number of discussions that
    have come up on the board list only to devolve into a morass of
    nit-picking and eventual lack of action when everyone tires of the
    discussion. What action that is taken is often to “delegate” to a
    (possibly inactive) sub-committee, then never follow up.

    Instead what we have is a great deal of inertia, little interest in
    changing things, and no clear indication of what the Board’s
    priorities are.

    If priorities do exist, they’re lost in a maze of confusing,
    incomplete and often contradictory information on the wiki. (Wikis —
    like abandonware for documentation.)


        On pending irrelevancy

    I encourage you to ask some random people in the open source
    geospatial community what OSGeo means to them. I would make a bet
    that the most common answer is a blank stare.

    I would ask the board members to come up with three things, other
    than FOSS4G, where the OSGeo membership has shown its importance to
    the community as a wholein the last two years. Something where
    people say, “Did you hear about[exciting thing]OSGeo is doing on X?”
    To be clear, I don’t mean just things that OSGeo has a finger in,
    but things that needOSGeo. If OSGeo disappeared tomorrow, would any
    of these projects be significantly affected?

    I don’t think it can be done. The OSGeo Foundation is sliding into
    irrelevancy — and it may already be there.

    If anything should be seen as strategic for OSGeo, it’s FOSS4G, the
    foundation’s primary (sole?) source of income. Even regarding its
    flagship public event, the board is largely absent. Rather than
    provide adequate resources and planning, they instead rely on
    burning out volunteers, then make post-hoc demands on the way they
    shouldhave done it, provide no future support for organizers to heed
    those demands, rarely follow up, then go on to repeat the same
    mistakes the following year.  Honestly, it’s surprising that FOSS4G
    has failed only once. (I think this is a reflection of the demand
    for the conference, not the blazing competence of OSGeo.)

    Michael Gerlek brought this up
    <https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-July/014521.html>on
    the osgeo-discuss list in July, and probably has a more generous
    spin on it. He essentially argues that it’s time to declare mission
    accomplished and shut down or rebooted. I agree with his points, and
    I’m arguing that OSGeo can have something to offer, but it will
    require a major re-think of its mission.


        Fixing things

    I hinted at this in my recent questions to the board candidates, but
    I want to be explicit here: OSGeo needs to evolve or die.

    Here’s how I would do it:

     1.

        The board needs to evaluate all of its goals, as defined on the
        About page, to decide if they are still truly goals. Define any
        new goals.

     2.

        Ask the question: “What does it mean to succeed at this goal?”

        If the goal is vague, or ongoing, give a timeline: “What does
        success look like for this goal one year from now?”

     3.

        Create measureable objectives for achieving those goals. Ask the
        question, “How will we know if we’ve succeeded?”

     4.

        Prioritize the goals.

     5.

        Allocate resources to the goals.

        Obviously this is a tricky one, but I think we can look at this
        a balance between Importance and Effort.


        Spend money to reduce to the effort required, more money if the
        goal is more important — this might be the hardest cultural
        shift. Volunteer time is precious and easily discouraged. Make
        sure that you make it as efficient as possible by spending money
        when you can.


        For example, many of the infrastructure services OSGeo provides
        can be easily outsourced to more featureful services that are
        more responsive and rely less on volunteer labor.

     6.

        Close the loop on tasks. When a task is delegated to a committee
        or individual, track its progress, both to know that it is or
        isn’t happening, and to be able to acknowledge and incorporate
        the work when it’s done. Failing to acknowledge people’s labor
        or to use the results of that labor will virtually guarantee
        that the volunteer does not continue to help.

     7.

        Evaluate success and failure.  GOTO 1.

    Aside: none if this will happen without a strong executive. Whether
    that position is paid or not is up to the board, but it’s clear that
    there needs to be someone who can make decisions without endless
    rounds of fruitless discussions. The board as currently constituted
    is not dysfunctional, but it is mostly afunctional.

    I’m will go so far as to suggest this: Fly every board member who is
    available to a two or three day retreat. Get everyone in the same
    room, a professional facilitator to speed the process, then figure
    out what OSGeo is going to be and how to get there. Don’t fret
    excessively about the expense — this isn’t about saving money, it’s
    about saving OSGeo.

    If you ask me, irrelevancy is a fate worse than death. Be bold!It’s
    better to try to do something big and new then fail than to simply
    fade away and be forgotten.

    Though my comments above may sound harsh, they are sent with the
    very best of intentions. I want OSGeo to succeed, but OSGeo is never
    going to succeed if it doesn’t know what it’s try to succeed
    at.Without real reform, I don’t see success happening, just
    irrelevance. Here’s hoping this gets the ball rolling.

    Darrell


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Re: OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

Ravi Kumar-3
+1

On Mon, Sep 28, 2015 at 7:55 AM, Jody Garnett <[hidden email]> wrote:
So far I have enjoyed this thread for the number of ideas it brings forth.

Just want to highlight the small difference between a forge (SourceForge, Google Code, Gitourious, GitHub) and Foundation (OSGeo, Apache, Linux, Eclipse).

Forges tend to focus software version control, build facilities, and artifact hosting. They make money by selling these same facilities to enterprise, while often accepting open source projects "on board" as a form of free advertising.

Foundations focus on projects (license, legal, governance, promotion .. some even include a social agenda). When they make money they do so by providing vendor neutral table for organizations to collaborate together (even if they kick each other under the table on occasion). Software hosting services are incidental to these goals - although some foundations like Apache take on hosting as way to control the legal exposure that comes with hosting code.

One advantage of OSGeo as a foundation is we have the flexibility to allow out project to change up which forge they use over time (seeing projects migrate from cvs, subversion, SourceForge / GoogleCode / GitHub).

For projects OSGeo provides something to "belong to" and a fair brand boost :) 

So yeah, if OSGeo rolled up the carpet we would have to set up another foundation for the projects the next day.
--
Jody

--
Jody Garnett

On 26 September 2015 at 12:38, Frank Gasdorf <[hidden email]> wrote:
Thanks Darrell for such a clear and structured statement.
I'd like to add a few thoughts. First I'd like to aggree to the infrastructure thing, in times Open Source projects can get a space (SCM, Ticket system, Build infrastructure, etc) for free everywhere it's kind of wired OSGeo paying for it. Like Jo noticed, things changing over time and maybe here projects can move forward - e.g. like GeoTools and GeoServer did. The point was and still is, that's not OSGeo driven to provide a common infrastructure for OSGeo projects. Each project cares about it's own setup and that burns a lot of volunteering time. However, maybe here can start the discussion, if that would be a benefit for projects.
IMHO FOSS4G is a brand, wheras OSGeo isn't. I never has been involved yet organizing a FOSS4G but it sounds like a hugh effort from local teams slightly supported by OSGeo. I love FOSS4G's because its a chance to have face to face meetings with Contributors and Users from all over the world. In the past I remember the WMS shootouts where I got the impression, OSGeo/FOSS4G is the best place it can be happen: Several projects in a battle to improve these all together. Thats making the world a better place..
On other levels, would it be worth to setup similiar competitions for other fields: Tile caches, Desktop clients, Processing Implementations and so on. Would that help to push projects and provide comparable values between OS and proprietary projects.
 
Same for codesprints and hackathons... Sponsoring such events helps growing community, improving projects and finally helps users who using this great software stack
How can OSGeo help creating Solutions with Components of this stack. OSGeo Live is the first step I guess: Setup things and finding out how the fit together. We learned a lot from other projects within OSGeo live and that improves each project I guess. What's the major output for Users?

What about "Long Term Support", would that be a field OSGeo could help projects and users in the same way?
Maybe we can think about other sponsoring models, where Companies paying anual fees. What could the expect from OSGeo, what would be an added value for these?
And finally, from a uDig perspective: Whats the different between Geospatial organizations such as OSGeo and LocationTech. From my perspective : They have a totally different history, I 'd say community driven vs. company driven, which includes different sponsoring models. Maybe its worth to think about: Whats the driver, the community or the business behind sponsoring companies?

Again, Thank you Darrell for initial post, I guess the discussion helps a lot to get a Strategy for the future

Warm regards, Frank

2015-09-26 15:29 GMT+02:00 Jo Cook <[hidden email]>:

Hi All, and especially Darrel,

In his email Darrel articulated some ideas that I have been having for a couple of years now, but haven't been able to clearly define.

So firstly I'd like to say that I totally agree with Darrel's points (and Michael Gerlek's previously)- OSGeo is definitely in danger of becoming irrelevant. Some of this is down to being a victim of its own success. The projects have, in many cases, matured and become popular to the point where they no longer need OSGeo. I'd really like to see a thorough assessment of our goals and objectives to decide what is still important. The availability of infrastructure, version control, open data, etc have improved massively over the last 5 years so now is a great time for a real spring-clean and decide what we need to keep and what we don't.

What does the world really need from OSGeo that it can't get from anyone else? What problems could we solve moving forward? Those are the things we should focus on.

I'm currently trying to write an article on open geospatial in 2020 and I can honestly say I'm struggling to see a place for OSGeo in it. I'd really like to be proved wrong (and I'd love some predictions for my article, but that's for another discussion).

Thanks

Jo

On 26 Sep 2015 1:40 pm, "Just van den Broecke" <[hidden email]> wrote:
Dear Milo,

That you agree Darrel's statements is your opinion and fine in any open discussion.

I react here on your phrase: '"empty talkers" from my country run for charter membership'.

We have 9 Charter Members from the Netherlands, including me. I know each of them, and IMO they are far from "empty talkers". They all spend long voluntary hours in an array of activities that support OSGeo's global and OSGeo.nl local mission and FOSS in general. To name a few:
Sebastiaan Couwenberg (2015) spends ample time in Debian packaging
Barend Köbben (2012) helping/speaking at FOSS4G, org academic track
We all know what Jeroen and Bart have accomplished. I could go on. Not all charter members need to make software, some make things happen like organizing local OSGeo.nl events and acting in the LOC for the upcoming FOSS4G in Bonn.

So I hope your "empty talkers" phrase came out of a sudden impulse, that we all have from time to time. I had to react to clarify some things. Best,

Just van den Broecke
Secretary OSGeo.nl Foundation


On 26-09-15 00:12, Milo van der Linden wrote:
Being a "don't talk, act" member since 2008, entrepreneur and former
chairman of a couple of local initiatives, I strongly agree.

Seeing all the "empty talkers" from my country run for charter
membership and still not having geoserver, which is the most mature open
geospatial product I can think of pas incubation made me completely lose
interest in OSGeo.

I am disappointed, a little frustrated and plotting a business course
that values open source and open knowledge. OSGeo or any in-crowd will
have no part in my future.

Thank you for your honest and to the point analyses.

Milo

On Sep 25, 2015 21:58, "Darrell Fuhriman" <[hidden email]
<mailto:[hidden email]>> wrote:

    The recent discussion on the board list
    <https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2015-September/013172.html>that
    came out of the question of the 2014 videos has got me thinking
    about a few things again, and I want to try to get them out there.

    Grab a mug of your favorite liquid and hunker down, because I put
    some time and effort into this, and your own well considered reply
    is appreciated.

    Keep in mind that all of these comments are coming from my personal
    perspective, which, like everyone’s, is an incomplete picture of the
    whole. Much of what I’m going to say has been rolling around my head
    for a while, so I’m just going to put it out there.

    I will start with a provocative thesis:

    OSGeo lacks visionary unified leadership and without it will become
    irrelevant.

    Of course, making such a claim requires support. So let me break
    down the statement.

    “Visionary leadership” is really two things, “vision” and
    “leadership.” I will address each in turn.


        OSGeo lacks vision

    I looked at the list of “Goals” for OSGeo
    <http://www.osgeo.org/content/foundation/about.html>. I wonder: when
    was the last time these goals were evaluated for both success and
    relevancy?

    Here is my own opinion of success of some of  these goals. (In the
    interest of brevity, I haven’t tried to tackle everything. That’s
    left as an exercise to the reader.)


          Example 1

    To provide resources for foundation projects - eg. infrastructure,
    funding, legal.

    Allow me to break each of those examples down.


            Infrastructure

    It’s true that OSGeo provides some infrastructure, such as Trac
    instance, Mailman, SVN repos. If the budget is to be believed, we
    pay some $3,500/yr to OSUOSL for said infrastructure. I wonder if
    such a service is necessary, however. Issue tracking and source
    control are much better provided by Github, which is free for
    organization such as ours.
    I say this because a) that’s money that could be better spent
    elsewhere and b) supporting these services burns precious volunteer
    time (more on that below).

    There are clear cost savings available, which are not taken
    advantage of. For example, OSGeo could be hosting FOSS4G
    infrastructure: conference websites and registration, a central
    location for conference videos (regardless of platform/provider).
    This neglect is especially galling given that FOSS4G is OSGeo’s sole
    source of income.


            Funding

    OSGeo does not fund projects. It has provided some funds to pay for
    Code Sprints — $15k in 2014 according to the budget
    <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/OSGeo_Budget_2014>.


            Legal

    I see nothing that has been done on this front recently. Please feel
    free to correct me.


            Conclusion

    OSGeo, where it actually does what it claims, has not adapted in
    ways that could save money.

    My grade: D


        Example 2

    To promote freely available geodata - free software is useless
    without data.

    The geodata working group is dead. As near as I can tell by perusing
    the mailing list archives, and the wiki, there has been no
    meaningful activity in the past two years (maybe more).

    My grade: F


        Example 3

    To promote the use of open source software in the geospatial
    industry (not just foundation software) - eg. PR, training, outreach.

    The Board of Directors
    <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Board_of_Directors#Packaging_and_Marketing>page
    says:


            Packaging and Marketing

    OSGeo’s marketing effort has primarily been focused around the
    packaging and documentation efforts of OSGeo-Live, and to a lesser
    extend[sic], osgeo4w. […] It has been entirely driven by volunteer
    labour, with 140 OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been
    covered by local events or sponsors. In the last couple of years,
    OSGeo has covered local chapter expenses required to purchase
    non-consumable items for conference booths (such as a retractable
    banner). In moving forward, OSGeo hope to extend marketing reach by
    providing co-contributions toward printing costs of consumable items
    at conferences, such as toward OSGeo-Live DVDs.


            Local Chapters

    Much of OSGeo’s marketing initiates are applied at the local level.
    In many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email
    list and wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering
    to pay for an Exhibition starter pack for local chapters. Local
    chapters are also usually the coordinators of conferences and
    related events, as mentioned above.

    Exhibition starter packs almost never happen; OSGeo-Live
    explicitlygets no support; and OSGeo struggles to staff a booth at
    its own conferenceto say nothing of any other conferences.

    Note: Local chapters certainly do do marketing and outreach, but
    these efforts are essentially unsupported by the OSGeo Foundation.
    In fact, this goal and the Board of Directors webpage seem to be
    explicitly contradictory.

    My grade: F.


          Commentary

    I could go on with my own personal evaluations, but I’m not sure
    that’s necessary. The only place I see that OSGeo has unquestionably
    succeeded in the past few years is the final goal, “To award the Sol
    Katz award for service to the OSGeo community”.

    So, what’s my point here? It’s simple: there is no longer a coherent
    vision for what OSGeo should be. I’ll return to that below, but let
    me continue with my other point.


        OSGeo lacks leadership

    Again quoting the Board of Directors’ page:

    The board’s primary responsibility is to efficiently and effectively
    make strategic decisions related to the running of OSGeo.

    I won’t bore you with the details, but a perusal of the board
    meeting minutes would indicate that strategyis rarely, if ever, a
    part of the meetings.

    The emphasis on consensus-based decision making often leads to no
    decisions being made. I can’t count the number of discussions that
    have come up on the board list only to devolve into a morass of
    nit-picking and eventual lack of action when everyone tires of the
    discussion. What action that is taken is often to “delegate” to a
    (possibly inactive) sub-committee, then never follow up.

    Instead what we have is a great deal of inertia, little interest in
    changing things, and no clear indication of what the Board’s
    priorities are.

    If priorities do exist, they’re lost in a maze of confusing,
    incomplete and often contradictory information on the wiki. (Wikis —
    like abandonware for documentation.)


        On pending irrelevancy

    I encourage you to ask some random people in the open source
    geospatial community what OSGeo means to them. I would make a bet
    that the most common answer is a blank stare.

    I would ask the board members to come up with three things, other
    than FOSS4G, where the OSGeo membership has shown its importance to
    the community as a wholein the last two years. Something where
    people say, “Did you hear about[exciting thing]OSGeo is doing on X?”
    To be clear, I don’t mean just things that OSGeo has a finger in,
    but things that needOSGeo. If OSGeo disappeared tomorrow, would any
    of these projects be significantly affected?

    I don’t think it can be done. The OSGeo Foundation is sliding into
    irrelevancy — and it may already be there.

    If anything should be seen as strategic for OSGeo, it’s FOSS4G, the
    foundation’s primary (sole?) source of income. Even regarding its
    flagship public event, the board is largely absent. Rather than
    provide adequate resources and planning, they instead rely on
    burning out volunteers, then make post-hoc demands on the way they
    shouldhave done it, provide no future support for organizers to heed
    those demands, rarely follow up, then go on to repeat the same
    mistakes the following year.  Honestly, it’s surprising that FOSS4G
    has failed only once. (I think this is a reflection of the demand
    for the conference, not the blazing competence of OSGeo.)

    Michael Gerlek brought this up
    <https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-July/014521.html>on
    the osgeo-discuss list in July, and probably has a more generous
    spin on it. He essentially argues that it’s time to declare mission
    accomplished and shut down or rebooted. I agree with his points, and
    I’m arguing that OSGeo can have something to offer, but it will
    require a major re-think of its mission.


        Fixing things

    I hinted at this in my recent questions to the board candidates, but
    I want to be explicit here: OSGeo needs to evolve or die.

    Here’s how I would do it:

     1.

        The board needs to evaluate all of its goals, as defined on the
        About page, to decide if they are still truly goals. Define any
        new goals.

     2.

        Ask the question: “What does it mean to succeed at this goal?”

        If the goal is vague, or ongoing, give a timeline: “What does
        success look like for this goal one year from now?”

     3.

        Create measureable objectives for achieving those goals. Ask the
        question, “How will we know if we’ve succeeded?”

     4.

        Prioritize the goals.

     5.

        Allocate resources to the goals.

        Obviously this is a tricky one, but I think we can look at this
        a balance between Importance and Effort.


        Spend money to reduce to the effort required, more money if the
        goal is more important — this might be the hardest cultural
        shift. Volunteer time is precious and easily discouraged. Make
        sure that you make it as efficient as possible by spending money
        when you can.


        For example, many of the infrastructure services OSGeo provides
        can be easily outsourced to more featureful services that are
        more responsive and rely less on volunteer labor.

     6.

        Close the loop on tasks. When a task is delegated to a committee
        or individual, track its progress, both to know that it is or
        isn’t happening, and to be able to acknowledge and incorporate
        the work when it’s done. Failing to acknowledge people’s labor
        or to use the results of that labor will virtually guarantee
        that the volunteer does not continue to help.

     7.

        Evaluate success and failure.  GOTO 1.

    Aside: none if this will happen without a strong executive. Whether
    that position is paid or not is up to the board, but it’s clear that
    there needs to be someone who can make decisions without endless
    rounds of fruitless discussions. The board as currently constituted
    is not dysfunctional, but it is mostly afunctional.

    I’m will go so far as to suggest this: Fly every board member who is
    available to a two or three day retreat. Get everyone in the same
    room, a professional facilitator to speed the process, then figure
    out what OSGeo is going to be and how to get there. Don’t fret
    excessively about the expense — this isn’t about saving money, it’s
    about saving OSGeo.

    If you ask me, irrelevancy is a fate worse than death. Be bold!It’s
    better to try to do something big and new then fail than to simply
    fade away and be forgotten.

    Though my comments above may sound harsh, they are sent with the
    very best of intentions. I want OSGeo to succeed, but OSGeo is never
    going to succeed if it doesn’t know what it’s try to succeed
    at.Without real reform, I don’t see success happening, just
    irrelevance. Here’s hoping this gets the ball rolling.

    Darrell


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Re: OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

hksolanki
- A family need a Father, even if children are grown enough to run their lives.
- If some problems are there in vehicle, it does not mean that vehicle should be thrown out.

When I teach "Why QGIS", one big answer always is "It is an OSGeo product", and it has a meaning. There are thousands of software available, some are free some and some are open source also, but when they will turn to commercial, no one knows. This fact always warn me for not using any other product, except open source preferably with OSGeo Banner/Umbrella. So there is always need of a charioteer to keep the horses in same direction. The direction may be decided/changed with mutual consensus.

For a developer sky may be the limit, but for users like me OSGeo is the limit.

Kind Regards
(H K Solanki)

Sorry for poor English


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Re: OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

María Arias de Reyna-4
When people ask me how should they start on the GIS world, I always give them two advices:

 * Check OsGeo.
 * Read the Libro Libre de SIG Libre[1] (only Spanish, translations accepted)

If OsGeo disappeared, someone should invent it.

Which doesn't mean it is the only way to achieve the same goals. For example, in Spain we have the geoinquietos (georestless) local groups which work somehow independently from OsGeo. But most of the people are the same in both groups, it is just that using our own "brand" allows us to do things more freely (talking about data instead of software, talking about privative resources, talking about geocaching, just take some geobeers,...). But we always go back to OsGeo as the reference.




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Re: OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's fix it.

Julien Michel-2
In reply to this post by Darrell Fuhriman
Hi all,

I am a fairly new charter member, so maybe the two following comments here will be irrelevant.

From my perspective, having Orfeo ToolBox as an incubating project definitively helped us to move in the right direction. I am not saying that it would not have occured without OSGeo, but the organization gives the momentum and defines the standards to reach. As such, it is useful and somehow efficient. The fact that the process is long is mostly on the project side in our case.

I think that the Github move is hazardous. Sure, it is easy, free for open-source projects, and really really cool. Granted, it helps a lot in getting fluid contributions to open-source projects. But ... in two years, they may start shipping sponsors links at the end of the Readme files, and in a moments notice you have to watch 20 seconds ads before cloning. At this point, you will want to bail out, only to find out that in fact you can not, because you can not delete the project anymore, or the issue tracker database can not be exported ...

My point is, OSGeo should care about long-term protection of GIS open-source, and if this goal aligns for now with services that Github provides, it may no longer be the case in the future .Of course we need to be on Github: it is a public place to be, like twitter & co. But completely giving up code hosting and developers exchanges to a private company is the opposite of what I think the organization should do.

I know proper hosting services requires time and money, I do not have the solution to that, but for me OSGeo should provide a sustainable alternative, up-to-date and tailored for its purpose.

My 2 cents,

Regards,

Julien

Le 25/09/2015 21:57, Darrell Fuhriman a écrit :
The recent discussion on the board list that came out of the question of the 2014 videos has got me thinking about a few things again, and I want to try to get them out there.

Grab a mug of your favorite liquid and hunker down, because I put some time and effort into this, and your own well considered reply is appreciated.

Keep in mind that all of these comments are coming from my personal perspective, which, like everyone’s, is an incomplete picture of the whole. Much of what I’m going to say has been rolling around my head for a while, so I’m just going to put it out there.

I will start with a provocative thesis:

OSGeo lacks visionary unified leadership and without it will become irrelevant.

Of course, making such a claim requires support. So let me break down the statement.

“Visionary leadership” is really two things, “vision” and “leadership.” I will address each in turn.

OSGeo lacks vision

I looked at the list of “Goals” for OSGeo. I wonder: when was the last time these goals were evaluated for both success and relevancy?

Here is my own opinion of success of some of  these goals. (In the interest of brevity, I haven’t tried to tackle everything. That’s left as an exercise to the reader.)

Example 1

To provide resources for foundation projects - eg. infrastructure, funding, legal.

Allow me to break each of those examples down.

Infrastructure

It’s true that OSGeo provides some infrastructure, such as Trac instance, Mailman, SVN repos. If the budget is to be believed, we pay some $3,500/yr to OSUOSL for said infrastructure. I wonder if such a service is necessary, however. Issue tracking and source control are much better provided by Github, which is free for organization such as ours.
I say this because a) that’s money that could be better spent elsewhere and b) supporting these services burns precious volunteer time (more on that below).

There are clear cost savings available, which are not taken advantage of. For example, OSGeo could be hosting FOSS4G infrastructure: conference websites and registration, a central location for conference videos (regardless of platform/provider). This neglect is especially galling given that FOSS4G is OSGeo’s sole source of income.

Funding

OSGeo does not fund projects. It has provided some funds to pay for Code Sprints — $15k in 2014 according to the budget.

Legal

I see nothing that has been done on this front recently. Please feel free to correct me.

Conclusion

OSGeo, where it actually does what it claims, has not adapted in ways that could save money.

My grade: D

Example 2

To promote freely available geodata - free software is useless without data.

The geodata working group is dead. As near as I can tell by perusing the mailing list archives, and the wiki, there has been no meaningful activity in the past two years (maybe more).

My grade: F

Example 3

To promote the use of open source software in the geospatial industry (not just foundation software) - eg. PR, training, outreach.

The Board of Directors page says:

Packaging and Marketing

OSGeo’s marketing effort has primarily been focused around the packaging and documentation efforts of OSGeo-Live, and to a lesser extend[sic], osgeo4w. […] It has been entirely driven by volunteer labour, with 140 OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been covered by local events or sponsors. In the last couple of years, OSGeo has covered local chapter expenses required to purchase non-consumable items for conference booths (such as a retractable banner). In moving forward, OSGeo hope to extend marketing reach by providing co-contributions toward printing costs of consumable items at conferences, such as toward OSGeo-Live DVDs.

Local Chapters

Much of OSGeo’s marketing initiates are applied at the local level. In many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email list and wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering to pay for an Exhibition starter pack for local chapters. Local chapters are also usually the coordinators of conferences and related events, as mentioned above.

Exhibition starter packs almost never happen; OSGeo-Live explicitly gets no support; and OSGeo struggles to staff a booth at its own conference to say nothing of any other conferences.

Note: Local chapters certainly do do marketing and outreach, but these efforts are essentially unsupported by the OSGeo Foundation. In fact, this goal and the Board of Directors webpage seem to be explicitly contradictory.

My grade: F.

Commentary

I could go on with my own personal evaluations, but I’m not sure that’s necessary. The only place I see that OSGeo has unquestionably succeeded in the past few years is the final goal, “To award the Sol Katz award for service to the OSGeo community”.

So, what’s my point here? It’s simple: there is no longer a coherent vision for what OSGeo should be. I’ll return to that below, but let me continue with my other point.

OSGeo lacks leadership

Again quoting the Board of Directors’ page:

The board’s primary responsibility is to efficiently and effectively make strategic decisions related to the running of OSGeo.

I won’t bore you with the details, but a perusal of the board meeting minutes would indicate that strategy is rarely, if ever, a part of the meetings.

The emphasis on consensus-based decision making often leads to no decisions being made. I can’t count the number of discussions that have come up on the board list only to devolve into a morass of nit-picking and eventual lack of action when everyone tires of the discussion. What action that is taken is often to “delegate” to a (possibly inactive) sub-committee, then never follow up.

Instead what we have is a great deal of inertia, little interest in changing things, and no clear indication of what the Board’s priorities are.

If priorities do exist, they’re lost in a maze of confusing, incomplete and often contradictory information on the wiki. (Wikis — like abandonware for documentation.)

On pending irrelevancy

I encourage you to ask some random people in the open source geospatial community what OSGeo means to them. I would make a bet that the most common answer is a blank stare.

I would ask the board members to come up with three things, other than FOSS4G, where the OSGeo membership has shown its importance to the community as a whole in the last two years. Something where people say, “Did you hear about [exciting thing] OSGeo is doing on X?” To be clear, I don’t mean just things that OSGeo has a finger in, but things that need OSGeo. If OSGeo disappeared tomorrow, would any of these projects be significantly affected?

I don’t think it can be done. The OSGeo Foundation is sliding into irrelevancy — and it may already be there.

If anything should be seen as strategic for OSGeo, it’s FOSS4G, the foundation’s primary (sole?) source of income. Even regarding its flagship public event, the board is largely absent. Rather than provide adequate resources and planning, they instead rely on burning out volunteers, then make post-hoc demands on the way they should have done it, provide no future support for organizers to heed those demands, rarely follow up, then go on to repeat the same mistakes the following year.  Honestly, it’s surprising that FOSS4G has failed only once. (I think this is a reflection of the demand for the conference, not the blazing competence of OSGeo.)

Michael Gerlek brought this up on the osgeo-discuss list in July, and probably has a more generous spin on it. He essentially argues that it’s time to declare mission accomplished and shut down or rebooted. I agree with his points, and I’m arguing that OSGeo can have something to offer, but it will require a major re-think of its mission.

Fixing things

I hinted at this in my recent questions to the board candidates, but I want to be explicit here: OSGeo needs to evolve or die.

Here’s how I would do it:

  1. The board needs to evaluate all of its goals, as defined on the About page, to decide if they are still truly goals. Define any new goals.

  2. Ask the question: “What does it mean to succeed at this goal?”

If the goal is vague, or ongoing, give a timeline: “What does success look like for this goal one year from now?”

  1. Create measureable objectives for achieving those goals. Ask the question, “How will we know if we’ve succeeded?”

  2. Prioritize the goals.

  3. Allocate resources to the goals.

Obviously this is a tricky one, but I think we can look at this a balance between Importance and Effort.


Spend money to reduce to the effort required, more money if the goal is more important — this might be the hardest cultural shift. Volunteer time is precious and easily discouraged. Make sure that you make it as efficient as possible by spending money when you can.


For example, many of the infrastructure services OSGeo provides can be easily outsourced to more featureful services that are more responsive and rely less on volunteer labor.

  1. Close the loop on tasks. When a task is delegated to a committee or individual, track its progress, both to know that it is or isn’t happening, and to be able to acknowledge and incorporate the work when it’s done. Failing to acknowledge people’s labor or to use the results of that labor will virtually guarantee that the volunteer does not continue to help.

  2. Evaluate success and failure.  GOTO 1.

Aside: none if this will happen without a strong executive. Whether that position is paid or not is up to the board, but it’s clear that there needs to be someone who can make decisions without endless rounds of fruitless discussions. The board as currently constituted is not dysfunctional, but it is mostly afunctional.

I’m will go so far as to suggest this: Fly every board member who is available to a two or three day retreat. Get everyone in the same room, a professional facilitator to speed the process, then figure out what OSGeo is going to be and how to get there. Don’t fret excessively about the expense — this isn’t about saving money, it’s about saving OSGeo.

If you ask me, irrelevancy is a fate worse than death. Be bold! It’s better to try to do something big and new then fail than to simply fade away and be forgotten.

Though my comments above may sound harsh, they are sent with the very best of intentions. I want OSGeo to succeed, but OSGeo is never going to succeed if it doesn’t know what it’s try to succeed at. Without real reform, I don’t see success happening, just irrelevance. Here’s hoping this gets the ball rolling.

Darrell



-- 
Julien MICHEL
CNES - DCT/SI/AP - BPI 1219
18, avenue Edouard Belin
31401 Toulouse Cedex 09 - France
Tel: +33 561 282 894 - Fax: +33 561 283 109 

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