bgirardot's Diary

Recent diary entries

Zverik’s diary post contained the word “Gatekeeprs” and I have also used that term, as well as “self appointed Sheriff’s of OSM” and “grumpy people” :)

OSM contributor Dzertanoj made the comment that “Gatekeeper” was a very negative term in Russian, that it even implied “dumb”. In American English it is a negative term, but mildly so. In fact, to most folks it even implies the longest contributing, most experienced folks in an open source project.

Gatekeeping is a critical role to a large open project like OSM.

The problem is, that over time, years of experience supporting and contributing to the project, the gatekeepers are in the best place to see what is needed to keep the project at a very high level of quality, which OSM is at, a very high level of quality, infrastructure, data, code base, ecosystem, etc, it is in large part due to the gatekeepers.

But I think what happens is that after several years, over 10+ years in some cases, of seeing all sorts of folks and ideas and efforts come to the “commons” that is an open source project, the gatekeepers get a little focused on keeping the gate closed. They have cleaned up after this, heard this, seen this, tried this, whatever it may be and they know all the parts that cause issues on the commons. So they rightly keep the gate closed or try to.

What is needed, what I have personally tried to do, and what HOT (disclosure: I am a HOT member and past board member) tries to do is be “Gateopeners”

We know the rules as the community and gatekeepers in particular have created, they are things like the import guidelines and draft of the directed edition policy are two great examples.

We open the gate and say “Welcome, glad you are here. Sure you can do that, let us show you around the place a bit. Here are the guidelines for doing X, we can go over them with you, help you with them, show you where the wiki templates are, but you have to just follow them. You will get great feedback from the community on issues and they are very helpful with suggestions. Your project to do X will go much better following their advice. They have also done this many times and may have examples of how they did it in the past they will share with you.”

But it takes time and folks to do that and unfortunately gatekeepers are usually also doing another job or two around OSM, like making significant contributions and/or running a business around OSM.

So we need gatekeepers, but we need gateopeners too. Gateopeners just want to work with and along side the gatekeepers. Let us help you by fulfilling that role so you can keep to other important matters.

I should also note what I hope is obvious: There are gatekeepers and gateopeners in other areas besides tech. They exist for fundraising and diversity as well and I am sure other areas that I am not thinking of at the moment.

I have seen great examples of gateopening over the past few years across all of these areas and I hope to have been an effective one myself. Thank you for performing an equally critical and often unrecognized role.

This whole post is meant in the most genuine appreciation for gatekeepers, self appointed Sheriffs, and grumpy experienced folks who have helped make OSM the success it is now and the success it will enjoy in the future. I won’t “name names” but I hope you know who you are and know that your contributions and role in OSM mean the world to folks. I look forward to working with you all more in the future!

As Heather Leson likes to say: “Let’s go be awesome together.”

Respectfully, blake

Location: Old Fourth Ward, Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Michigan, 48109, United States

Each year HOT organization members should review their contributions to HOT and the OSM communities and look forward to their goals for the coming year.

This past year I participated in mapping and contributed (in some way ;) to coordination of all the activations and many of the non crisis mapping projects.

As a HOT board member I attended a few international conferences and meetings to promote OSM and HOT. Most importantly to me personally were the sprint and fall International Working Group of Satellite-based Emergency Mapping organizations meetings in Bonn and via teleconference in Vienna. The other major highlight was the Missing Maps meeting in Toronto. Two amazing groups of people it was an honor to work with!

In that same area of working with amazing people, I was the HOT liaison to the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN).

And of course helping organize and attending the first ever HOT Summit which provide the opportunity to meet so many of our community members.

I had the privilege to participate in all of the currently active HOT Working Groups and see first hand how dedicated and talented the HOT/OSM community is. As many people know, Tom Taylor, one of the chairpersons of the Training Working Group passed away at the end of 2015. He will always be an inspiration to me for how he faced the end of life and his dedication to his family and humanitarian work.

I also served as Vice President/Treasurer of the HOT Board of Directors which allowed me to work very closely with HOT’s new ED Tyler Radford and the amazing staff people HOT has been lucky enough to have work for our organization.

I was an Outreachy mentor, but luckily Rekth was good enough that she quickly surpassed my limited expertise and created a great UI analysis of the Tasking Manager.

I was a participant in the activation coordination sprint that helped lay the ground work for Russ’s and Mhairi’s activation protocol and curriculum work.

I made a few cosmetic tweaks to the Tasking Manager, but probably just annoyed Pierre Giraud and Dražen Odobašic more than anything. (I promise in 2016 I will learn how to squash my commits).

I have done a few other things along the way, but for me these are the things that stand out.

It is just not possible to list all of the incredible people my HOT community membership has allowed me to work with this past year. I said to Tyler recently after a meeting with a regional UNOCHA head and local government officials: “How lucky are we that we get to work such amazing people every day?” It was really a humbling moment. When you couple that with the incredible people on the ground, both local and people doing field work, that we get to work with… It just leaves me speechless. There is no way to describe how lucky I feel to be a part of the HOT and OSM community.

For 2016 I hope to continue most of the same things I did in 2015, but with a special emphasis on application development and community building.

Cheers and thank you to everyone in the OSM and HOT communities for the opportunity work with you all.

Location: Hinderem Dorf, Frauenfeld, Neunforn, Bezirk Frauenfeld, Thurgau, 8501, Switzerland

Reviewing, revising, polishing and providing helpful feedback are all parts of what someone validating a HOT task square has to do and that takes some experience.

But most of what validation ends up being about is typical HOT mapping: roads and buildings. This is mainly because most people who do validations do not want to mark task squares “Invalid”, I would much rather finish one up and then leave some good feedback for the good work that was done.

That is always, for me, the biggest use of my time and what slows down my validation process, mapping in missing features. So new mappers are really helpful to the validation process, directly and indirectly.

Directly, I encourage new mappers to get started in any HOT OSM Tasking Manager project by reading the instructions and then looking at 3 or 4 of the “Gold” colored task squares. They are “Completed” but not reviewed or “Validated” yet.

After you read the instructions, just review a “Completed” task square to see if anything is missing and if it is map it in. That is amazingly helpful to this whole process, just standard mapping in “Completed” task squares.

Do not try to make it over detailed, that is not the goal of most of our mapping. Our goal is roads that connect places and some of the most used roads, tracks or paths around those places.

And buildings, if the instructions call for buildings, we do want to get every one of those we possibly can. So fill in any buildings you see if the instructions call for buildings.

By reviewing a “Completed” task square will help you see how others are mapping an area and help you see where people miss things so your mapping will get better too.

If you do review a “Completed” task square and add buildings or roads, make sure you click “Unlock” to stop mapping, these squares still need to be reviewed by an experienced mapper or validator, so you should not use that button. Your additions have just made the validation much easier for those doing the validations. Try not to alter anything you are not sure about, just add in missing roads or buildings or whatever depending on the instructions.

To all new HOT / OSM mappers: Thank you for all your help, you are making a big difference.

Cheers, Blake

Location: Old West Side, Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Michigan, United States

Hi everyone,

It is with mixed emotions that I present myself as a candidate for the HOT Board of Directors.

As a relatively new member of HOT, the existing Board members have been the only board members I have known. I find them all to be dedicated and experienced humanitarians who have helped build HOT into the amazing organization it is today. I hate to see any one of them step down or not seek re-election. But, I guess change is unavoidable.

However, I am also excited at the possibility of continuing to serve, promote and build an organization and membership that means so much to me, but from a much different perspective than I have been in so far.

Like many people I was first introduced to HOT by the Ebola outbreak and I think it took literally about 5 mins before I completely fell in love with the organization, its mission, activities and community. Since that moment I have worked very hard to learn the ins and outs of HOT and find ways to contribute to its growth and success. I have participated in all of the currently active working groups and several of the activations, projects and events around HOT and the OSM community.

I come from the software industry, and while I have been a programmer, product manager and small business owner in the past, my first love is teaching. I have always enjoyed working with people who want to learn new skills, especially when they are learning to increase their opportunities. I have worked or volunteered in several educational settings including primary and high school, university level and the US Federal Prison system.

It is my dedication to teaching and education that will focus my Board activities. As a Board member my main areas of focus and priorities will be:

  1. Outreach to local OSM and HOT groups and support of their activities and events.
  2. Training opportunities for local OSM and HOT groups and community leaders.
  3. Engagement and support of remote mappers to improve our retention rates.
  4. Supporting and working for Dale’s suggestion to create an endowment.
  5. Increasing Board communication with the voting members and the HOT/OSM community at large.

Our existing and past Board members and the whole of the HOT community have build an amazing organization. If I am elected to serve on the board I will do everything in my power to continue to build and improve HOT.

I encourage everyone to ask questions and vote when the time comes. I can always be reached via e-mail and usually am in the HOT irc channel as well. This email is also posted to my OSM diary (bgirardot) which accepts comments.

I had hoped that the existing Board members would all run again but it seems that is not going to be the case. I can understand why as it can be a very time consuming and difficult role. If it is time for some new folks to step up and carry on I would be honored to be among them.

Best wishes, Blake Girardot

Location: Felben-Wellhausen, Bezirk Frauenfeld, Thurgau, 8552, Switzerland