OpenStreetMap

Vote for me, it would be fun

Posted by Zverik on 26 November 2015 in English (English)

I am Ilya Zverev, a.k.a. Zverik, currently living in Russia. I’ve nominated myself to the OSMF Board, and now I have supposed to write a manifesto, touching on diversity, transparency and other serious topics. But the thing is, I’ve read all manifestos for past three years, and all of them (except Frederik’s) are boring and didn’t affect anything. So what if I show support for transparency — would it help? Nearly all candidates supported it, and look how verbose Board minutes are (they aren’t).

Do you know what the Board is working on? I don’t, and I read the minutes. There are two options: either the Board discusses a lot of things on their private mailing list, or they actually are working only on topics spotted in minutes. Both of these are not good: I am a member of OSMF, and I expect to know what’s in store for OpenStreetMap. I hope it would change, and maybe I could help it — but after Frederik’s revelations, I am not sure. I’ll try.

I support diversity. The Russian community is severely under-represented in OpenStreetMap, despite being the fourth (occasionally the third) biggest in the project. Though I don’t like needless «regionalizing» of some aspects, e.g. tagging. Obviously, we should promote OSM in more countries, though I don’t see how it is the Board’s task. Last year I learned what gender diversity actually means, how inequality is enforced by nearly every aspect of most cultures, and that IT has it worst. But also I was taught that, as a man, I can do nothing about it, other than properly teach my daughters. So I have nothing to offer on the topic of diversity.

What I am interested in, and what is one of the main Board’s duties, is supporting the OSMF. I joined it in 2011, but never was sure what is the point of being there. Supporting the project monetarily — yes, but it is simpler with donations. The mailing list is sometimes entertaining, but mostly silent. I don’t know who other russians in OSMF are, and cannot connect with them. I have no say in any of the decisions, except during the yearly AGM. Nothing in OSMF motivates me to do anything, though there is a lot of subtle shaming: you are not participating in any WG, you are not donating enough, you are not attracting more members to OSMF. Being an OSMF member is not fun, and I intend to change that.

And the money. Do you know what the last year WG grants were spent on? Only OWG seems to spend money on something useful. OSMF has a few pounds on its account, which doesn’t seem to increase much, but also it doesn’t spend it on anything outside the State of the Map and servers. There were a lot of promises and ideas in past years. I can remember the Ulf Award, software grants, mapping party funding. I doubt any of that was discussed by the Board: in my mind, it deferred these matters to working groups, and the groups weren’t interested. I expect the Board to spend more, and to collect more. I’d like to have developer grants in the OSM, and not rely on big software companies to technically advance the project.

Corporate membership is the way to get more funds for the OSMF. Well, increasing the regular membership ten times, and that. My employer, MAPS.ME, is a corporate member, so I know how hard and frustrating it is to become one. This membership is not promoted in any way, which is one of the reasons we get only 4-5 companies every year. Maybe we should learn from Wikimedia: they are more visible and attract more big sponsors, and we could do with a couple.

I am not a good manager: I have no experience in talking with huge companies or managing teams (though I’ve organized quite a lot of mapping parties, and some conferences). But I won’t be alone on the Board, and members there are good in different ways. I’d be glad if Mikel is elected, we need an experienced person like him. My expertise is in being an OSMer for a lot of years, in writing news and hoping OSMF would generate more of them, in being an OSMF member and not knowing why. I want to change that, to make OSMF more visible and meaningful, and that’s why I want to be elected to the Board.

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