We have organized mapathons in Prague. We planned them, met on site, trained new mappers, mapped something and went to the pub. There we discussed and planned and exchanged our ideas. We called ourselves the core team. (I am only writing in the past tense because I am not there anymore; there is actually still a core team organizing mapathons in Prague.)
I was involved in Missing Maps CZ & SK from 2016 to 2020. I was involved in organizing mapathons. During that time I wrote and still maintain the mapathoner plugin. I like free software and I know that it is different from open source. I lobbed for openness. In 2020, I published Divide and map. Now. – the damn project and still maintain it. In 2022 I wrote simple hot intersecting areas and have not updated it since.
I am not sure if it’s time for this diary, but I want to write down my opinion about the core team and the community, because we have been talking about the community and the core team all along. And in my opinion, these two terms are often misunderstood.
DISCLAIMER: These are my own views. Please read this diary accordingly. I am in no way affiliated with OSMF, Missing Maps, HOT, MSF or the Red Cross.
Have you heard of WHAT, WHY, HOW and WHO questions? This is one of my favorite ways to discuss things.
Missing Maps’ WHAT and WHY are clear from their website. Let me put it another way: map the (vulnerable people of the) world because it’s a good thing. WHO is the community, the mappers. HOW is decided by the core team.
The community has a flat structure. The community is made up of mappers who vary in experience, commitment, time spent, frequency of mapping, and participation in mapathons. It makes no sense to build any kind of hierarchy on top of that, because neither says anything about leadership or management skills. (If you think the term “management” is too corporate, please remember that “self-management” is a well-known term that has nothing to do with corporations.) A flat structure means that everyone is equal – everyone can contribute as much as they want. The most important thing is that the community, WHO, understands and agrees on WHY and works on WHAT.
However, it is wrong to assume that there are no leaders or managers in the community. It only means that their role is different from the established roles in companies (including nonprofits): leaders inspire and managers support. Now I probably owe a couple of examples: first, encouraging a mapper who was attending their fifth (or so) mapathon to try to lead an iD training session; second, the discussion of communication channels with publicly available history for all and why that is good.
Someone has to care about the mappers and that is the core team. I like to say that the core team is the people who go to the pub after a mapathon. You know… that’s where we discuss and plan and share ideas… The core team is made up of the mappers in the community who give their time, energy and money to keep things going. It’s a thankless job. They work hard to be replaceable because that’s what the community needs. They only succeed if the community works without them; the community can not depend on one person.
What about leaders and managers, and the core team? They are orthogonal. You do not need to organize mapathons to inspire and support. (Mind you, you usually go to the pub anyway.) And you do not need to inspire and support to serve the community. (But you often do – by doing.)
The core team decides HOW WHAT is done. Sure there are guidelines on the Missing Maps website, but that’s just a checklist that is not for everyone. The core team influences tools, workflows, documentation, communication, presentations, knowledge, tricks, and the overall look and feel of mapathons.
It is possible to apply WHAT, WHY, HOW and WHO to the core team as well. So, WHAT does the core team do? It takes care of the mappers, of the community. WHY does the core team do that? Because without the core team, the community struggle on how to do their what. WHO again, is the core team? The people in the pub. And HOW does the core team do its job? Well… Core team members need to agree on HOW, both for themselves and for the community. I believe that free map of the world should be created with free software. I believe that openness is very important. I believe that “the end justifies the means” is a wrong statement.
Finally, I would like to give a little tip on how you can expand the core team: support others, tell them that they are doing important work, that they are doing it well, and that they are perfectly capable of supporting others.