mikelmaron's Diary Comments

Diary Comments added by mikelmaron

Post When Comment
What HOT’s Board Needs: A Top 5 List 11 months ago

Tyler, it’s hard enough to find 5 candidates among HOT’s membership, let alone folks with all the needed experience. Do you think it’s time for HOT to evaluate changes to HOT’s governance structure?

What HOT’s Board Needs: A Top 5 List 11 months ago


Voting Members of HOT, who are the eligible candidates for the Board, have a lot more exposure to what’s happening in HOT and who is being listened to. While we can quibble about the labels being used here, I take the point to be that there are particular skilled needs on the HOT board.

One question I have for you is who, in the more wide view, do you think HOT needs to listen to more? And how best to enable listening and dialogue?


Make a community presentation at an OSMF Board Meeting about 1 year ago

@Österreich you make a good point that we haven’t included individual mappers in this outreach. It’s not because they are not valued – recognize that a big portion of contributions comes from folks who find OSM and just do it. I think it would be really valuable to hear more from this part of OSM, and understand interests and concerns and views. I’ll reach out for a chat.

Revitalize Diversity and Inclusion in OSMF about 1 year ago

Hey @arnalielsewhere I think something like this could be great. What’s needed is someone to pick up the reins. I’d be happy to attend and participate.

One thing I have been waiting on is the conclusion of planning work by the LCCWG subcommittee on moderation, since I think that’s a key milestone.

Greetings from Open Mapping Hub- Asia Pacific! about 1 year ago

Wonderful to hear this update Nama and look forward to seeing the action of the mobile hub

Understanding the Humanitarian Open Mapping Movement about 1 year ago

@RAytoun I appreciate your focus and all the work you do to help in response to mapping disasters!

However, I must strongly disagree with your framing of HOT. There’s nothing contradictory in centering HOT’s work in OSM. In fact, that’s exactly why we created HOT.

HOT is not separate from the OSM community. The OSM community is made of people and groups who edit OSM. HOT and people who take part in HOT activities are firmly part of OSM.

Quality mapping is definitely HOT’s remit. Of course OSM improves over time. But every edit should be as good as possible, and it’s not a stretch to expect an activation to make quality a top objective.

Lastly, disaster activation is a big part of what HOT does, but not the only thing.

My OSM User Journey about 1 year ago

Thanks for the detailed reflections @Fiftyfour. As others commented, the site is mainly for mappers, but I don’t think that’s clear and you’ve pointed to a lot of detailed ways that purpose is not intuitive either.

Understanding the Humanitarian Open Mapping Movement over 1 year ago

I like the phrase “community health”. Sometimes this has been referred to as “sustainability”, but health has an element of ongoing care, rather than casting out to survive.

I’m a broken record on this, and I’m very biased, but I’ll recommend again reading the Sustainability in OpenStreetMap paper, and talking to the author, my wife Erica Hagen.

Launching an open mapping hub in Asia - what's the starting focus for HOT? over 1 year ago

Getting away from the label, and back to Rebecca’s questions..

I think the most important first step to codesign is to understand the communities in the places. Research and document the history of communities in each country in the region, with people involved. Who are the people which have worked and organized? Who is doing a lot of mapping and technical work? What are the organizations, companies, and agencies which have been present? What projects have been implemented? What are the opportunities and what are the challenges?

Recognize communities are not amorphous, but made of individuals and organizations with complex relationships, sometimes cooperating, sometimes competing.

Then ask and listen — what do they need? What are they worried about as risks? Given Covid and distance anyway, may take a series of dialogues both directly with individual, and more publicly.

Then write what you’re hearing and reflections often to get feedback. Be visible in the and available in the development.

I think Allan Mustard had done a good job since becoming OSMF chair, of having as many conversations as possible, and doing his thinking in the open. I’d love to see Nama and the other hub leads take similar approaches.

Launching an open mapping hub in Asia - what's the starting focus for HOT? over 1 year ago

Thanks @RebeccaF for opening this public discussion. Very excited to see Nama take this on. A few thoughts…

In this post, you’ll see the use of hOSM, which stands for humanitarian OpenStreetMap

What’s been the consideration for using “hOSM”? I understand the purpose of distinguishing from HOT, but I find the actual contraction awkward. It wouldn’t sound good to say it out loud except as the full “humanitarian OpenStreetMap”. But you’d need to know what it stood for, and that “humanitarian OpenStreetMap” is different from “Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team”.

I don’t have a better term to suggest yet..

And is there a real need to distinguish humanitarian OSM from OSM? Can HOT simply talk about supporting OSM?

I think this gets more fundamentally to how the hubs strategize and help build mapping ecosystems. Is there an important difference to be made when building for sustainability? Is this just about not working with existing and new local companies that support the map? In general, the humanitarian system has been at odds with sustainability because it doesn’t encourage local growth.

Localizing Community Support through regional hubs over 1 year ago

Geoffrey, love how you’re taking the comprehensive view of the hub’s territory.

I’m curious to hear more about how you came up with the capacity rating. I’d expect it’s not down to a formula, but a bit of a discussion and judgement call? Also what do you think about assessing overall “community health” rather than only “capacity”?

Some ideas on other metrics of community health. There’s different difficulties in all of these measurements, but I’m sure there’s ways to explore assessing them. * OSMF membership rates * Rate of remote vs in country edits * Depth of OSM data (POI coverage, % of roads w/ names) * Number of communication channels and activity volume * How many projects have taken place and at what scale (whether through HOT or another entity) * Organizations in-country engaged in OSM. Not only YouthMappers, but non-profits, government, companies. * Is there an official or proto local chapter?

One more thought. Metrics can only capture so much, and each country has its own unique narrative and dynamics. Would love to see an OSM country profile for each place, that in a couple paragraphs relates the historic trajectory of that community.

Upcoming OMSF board elections almost 2 years ago

Thanks @Heather Leson. I wrote up some thoughts myself and welcome connections with anyone thinking about the OSMF

Sustainable Travel Expenses Resolution – Request for Support almost 2 years ago

A more flexible framework will be more effective. There’s too many factors to consider to set up specific rules like this. It’s too much operational detail for an AGM vote. Rather, I’d like to see membership have OSMF make a commitment to reduce carbon, request a thorough audit be undertaken, and come up with a range of specific operational changes.

I do the carbon audit at Mapbox. Based on that I’d expect that OSMF computing resources are several orders of magnitude more contribution to emissions. How much exactly would require some work. Options to reduce by selecting more sustainable power sources for hosting, or other efforts, might take some time. But worth looking at.

As is, the proposal is not likely to have a significant impact on OSMF’s carbon emissions, and just add additional burden in a small number of situations. The numbers seem arbitrary based on a subjective assessment of convenience trade-off, not actual emission reductions. We already choose a F2F site to reduce overall travel, that has typically meant in Europe (the only place where realistically the choice between fight and train or bus would be realistic). In the vast majority of cases, Board members have preferred non air travel. Intercontinental flights dwarf the potential emissions savings. Who knows if we’ll resume F2F after COVID-19, or if Screen 2 Screen will become the norm; it’s been nearly as effective in my opinion – depending on the amount of focus brought to the event.

Initial Mapper Experience almost 2 years ago

thanks for your insights as a committed new mapper. lots here to think about and work on

OSMF 2020 entre inquiétude et déception / OSMF 2020 between concern and disappointment almost 2 years ago

A lot here. I just want to make a few corrections for the record.

In the absence of a visible history in the wiki (which would obviously be interesting here again in terms of transparency), it is difficult to say when exactly the sentence: “Is responsible for allocating $$ to diverse worthwhile software projects with grants and microgrants was added. “in the Mission statement page.

The version history is accessible but a little hidden in the template of this page (look at lower right for “More”). This could be improved for sure with a better color choice. Help welcome.

Looking at the full history, that bullet was added in December 2015, apparently based on previous discussion that year (which was before my current tenure, and I have not delved into…).

It’s right that “$$” is a bit odd in our Mission Statement, but I think it’s simply a universal way to talk about “money” rather than a specific currency (which in practice is several). Anyway if that remains unclear or controversial, the Board can amend the statement.

Half of the available funds will thus have been spent in a single year, practically the equivalent of the Pineapple Fund donation spent on software projects outside the OSMF’s perimeter. The sustainability of this approach would be based on a fundraising strategy that has yet to be fully defined, given that the future economic context is particularly gloomy, that there has so far only ever been a single donation in excess of 100,000 Euros, and that the physical SotMs, a source of income for the Foundation, may not be organized in the coming years.

In August, we announced the approach to funding this without drawing on OSMF reserves.

“To help fund this project, as well as the SSRE role, we’re looking at earmarked donations from companies, chapters and organisations.”

We’re not ready to announce the full results yet, but I can say that we will meet our fundraising goal and will not be required to draw on our reserves for this. Further, we are devising a longer term fundraising strategy to bring us sustainability in the coming years.

For my part, I would add the new tendency to create restricted committees whose members are chosen directly by the board (or whose selection is made through the caudal forks of one of the board members), which differs significantly from the practice of working groups open to any member who wants to get involved.

The committees are not fundamentally more restricted. All the working groups, and committees within groups, all have different qualifications expected of members and processes of approving new members. The Microgrants Special Committee did have a selection process, but was open to nomination by anyone. The Diversity and Inclusion Special Committee in open to people who want to actively contribute with no defined process (note we have been unfortunately been inactive).

Moreover, this action focused solely on technical needs completely ignores other major issues

I think it’s a mischaracterization to say the Board has only been focused on these issues, and that in fact the topic of takeover protection is being actively worked on. Yes it has been an issue for a while, it’s a complex topic. If funds might be needed to help investigate or implement ideas, the availability of funds is not a concern for the Foundation.

What HOT needs to work on for 2025 about 2 years ago

Hey Ivan, no need to remove comments, it’s of course fine to disagree, and if we misunderstand each other for a moment that’s ok. HOT is strong enough for some heated exchanges now and then.

Not to dwell on it, but to explain, some parts (“not a community vision we should strive to emulate”, “utterly inappropriate”) read like, let’s say, pretty strong push back. And phrases like “inward looking focus” and “specialist offshoot” are twisting my perspective. Felt compelled to push back too, unnecessarily (and btw, I’ve done plenty of parachuting myself). But let’s move on.

For sure, OSM has A LOT of issues. By working and contributing, HOT can help and make OSM stronger, which benefits very much what HOT wants to do.

What’s most interesting to hear is what HOT should be doing to prepare for the effort of Audacious.

One specific thing I read here about HOT is that you think the hub roles should require humanitarian experience but not OSM experience. It’s hard to imagine someone in this role who hasn’t had both experience in the international system, as well as technical and data worlds. Thinking about it now, critical will be a track record of “community values and local empowerment”. Tall order all together, and I’m excited meet these unicorns!

What HOT needs to work on for 2025 about 2 years ago

@Ivan Gayton, did I write something you didn’t like about HOT? Find your comments strangely combative and refusing reflection. This kind of divisiveness and distancing doesn’t serve HOT well.

I didn’t put OSM at the center right now, the Audacious grant did. And it’s long overdue. OSM isn’t only about maps and data, that’s a bad misconception on your part — it’s about people and community as well. You must admit the humanitarian sector does not broadly hold a strong community based vision and does not excel at building self reliance, so we should not look to it for a model. This is exactly why I started HOT 15 years ago — joining the values of OSM and for humanitarianIsm makes the entire endeavor more human and stronger.

Unfortunately I think HOT has become somewhat too enmeshed in the humanitarian system, reproducing dynamics like yes northern white men in long term leadership positions in places like Tanzania. Yes the HOT board is diverse, but compared to the staffed operation it has not been in the forefront of the organization for the past 5 years. I think that should change, as I said in my post.

And yes the OSMF Board has recognized the problems in its diversity and our community. The vision is one where people everywhere are empowered to make the map and use to improve their lives. But a statement or a vision is only a start, there is a lot of work to do.

So yes back to work.

Disappointed (But Not Surprised) about 2 years ago

Thanks @blackboxlogic. Agree with the general thrust of what you say here and appreciate the analysis. Documentation and discussion of data sets for imports are key. I think there is confusion about the term “import”; there’s an impression that it only implies to imports worked on in bulk, not when the workflow evaluates each new feature individually. The import guidelines apply to third party data sets whatever the workflow is for bringing in features, and if the edit is in bulk, then likely also the mechanical edit guidelines should be addressed as well.

I don’t agree with everything here. For instance, I think these issues could be addressed quickly without taking offline. And I don’t see how Organised Editing Guidelines apply, since no one is compelled or required to do this editing.

-Mikel (my personal opinion. I’m an OSMF Board Member and employee of Mapbox)

What HOT needs to work on for 2025 about 2 years ago

Thanks for you comment @Tyler! And for going into helpful detail on points I only gave a glancing take on.

Announcing Daylight Map Distribution over 2 years ago

Thanks Mike and Facebook for doing this. It’s great to have this insight out and available. There’s a good tradition of downstream data processing and redistribution in the community (you could call them packages I supposed) – from GeoFabrik’s regional and country downloads, to OSMQATiles, etc.

In this case (and I focused on this when we spoke), I’m not sure that the most valuable thing to distribute is what made it through Facebook filters, but rather what didn’t make it through and why. That insight is valuable to identify problems that need fixing on a faster basis, notify local communities and other editors, and to build up a corpus of understanding of what problematic edits in OSM look like.

The most actionable way to do this distribution will be through OSMCha. Through the OSMCha API, you can flag changesets/features with reasons, and can be set up so that any reason tag by Facebook has a “Facebook:” prefix.

This is what Mapbox has set up. The Mapbox Streets Review team looks at edits every day, and problems are flagged and surfaced in OSMCha. You can see all of this with this OSMCha filter. You’ll see the most recent flag as about 3 days ago – that’s the typical time between OSM edit and review / publishing in Mapbox Streets.

Adding in Facebook flagged problems to OSMCha would provide even stronger signal of problems, and hope to explore implementing it with you all.