Working Group Minutes/SWG 2011-09-23

From OpenStreetMap Foundation


IRC Name Present Apologies
_chrisfl Chris Fleming y
Eugene Eugene Usvitsky y
Firefishy Grant Slater
apmon Kai Krueger y
mkl1 Mikel Maron y
RichardF Richard Fairhurst y
samlarsen1 Sam Larsen
stevenfeldman Steven Feldman y
toffehoff Henk Hoff
TomH Tom Hughes y
wonderchook Kate Chapman

Also attending: Richard Weait (rweait)


  • Defineing strategic



  • Homework: Come up with concrete suggestions with how to expand this discussion and strategic planning process to the whole OSMF. Perhaps through the a recommendation to the management team

Next weeks agenda

  • As Actions.

Next meeting

Next meeting 7th October 15.00 UTC - Mikel Maron sends apologies, as he's getting married.


[14:23] samlarsen1 joined the chat room.
[14:52] apmon joined the chat room.
[14:54] mikelmaron joined the chat room.
[14:54] mikelmaron: hi strategists
[14:55] RichardF: hello
[14:56] chrisfl_: helllo
[14:58] mkl1 joined the chat room.
[14:59] mkl1: hope this works, on web irc, this cafes wifi blocks irc port
[14:59] mkl1: anyone here? or was my late announcement too late
[14:59] RichardF: here
[15:00] mkl1: greetings Board Member Fairhurst
[15:00] mikelmaron left the chat room. (Quit: CGI:IRC (Ping timeout))
[15:00] TomH: there
[15:00] • chrisfl_ port forwards irc ports using ssh as they're blocked in the office 
[15:01] mkl1: you around apmon, rweait, samlarsen1, twain47?
[15:01] RichardF: mkl1: eeeeek
[15:01] apmon: hi
[15:01] rweait: Kinda.
[15:03] mkl1: can we start? perhaps we don't have "quorum"
[15:04] apmon: Well, we can start with the agenda and then see if we have quorum if we need to decide something
[15:05] mkl1: sure, so where do we start
[15:05] mkl1: there was some interesting discussion at SOTM which was definitely strategic
[15:06] mkl1: seems like there's a need to clarify and explore the basic strategic principles of OSMF
[15:07] mkl1: the AoA revealed some differences of opinion in the community, or perhaps differences of emphasis
[15:07] mkl1: on the constituenceis OSMF serves
[15:07] RichardF: to a certain extent the new election gives us a steer.
[15:07] mkl1: yes, and it's not really up to SWG to decide this, but i think it's our role to craft the process
[15:08] mkl1: there was also mention of budgetting during the treasurer's report, and swg still has a role in helping the management team to role that out
[15:08] stevenfeldman joined the chat room.
[15:09] mkl1: and during discussion of design, there's been talk that the SWG should take a lead in crafting the design requirements
[15:09] RichardF: (hello stevenfeldman)
[15:09] stevenfeldman: hi, apols for late
[15:10] mkl1: ...
[15:10] RichardF: ok. so our remit (according to is "fund-raising, and long term planning and strategy"
[15:10] RichardF: let's leave fund-raising for now as there's no point discussing it until we know if we want to fund-raise for something
[15:11] mkl1: RichardF: there was a better definition put together, but it looks like that hasn't been updated on the osmfoundation site
[15:11] • RichardF laughs
[15:11] RichardF: ok
[15:12] mkl1: anyway, long term planning and strategy, yup
[15:12] RichardF: taking this definition for now: so we need to identify what form of long-term planning would be helpful, within the "support and encourage" mission of OSMF, which I think has been restated by the results of the board elections
[15:13] mkl1: how the heck do we do this? i've gone through this a couple times in the past year with different organizations. never a joy, but very useful
[15:13] mkl1: the vision and mission is clear
[15:13] RichardF: well, one classic route is SWOT - there was a SWOT diagram going round at SotM, right? (probably SteveC's talk  )
[15:13] mkl1: but the objectives are not. what does OSMF want to achieve
[15:13] apmon: what is SWOT?
[15:14] RichardF: apmon: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats
[15:15] rweait: apmon:
[15:15] mkl1: did SteveC post his slides? it's a useful starting point
[15:15] RichardF: in other words, what can OSMF do to take advantage of our opportunities, and face down our threats, within the "support and encourage" mission?
[15:15] mkl1: (fyi, new SWG definition:
[15:15] apmon: perhaps we can brainstorm a bunch of activities OSMF could do and then evaluate them based on things like resources, effort required, diversity, relevancy  if it can attract mappers and other criteria
[15:16] mkl1: i think there's a ton of discussion of activities, but we need to collect them towards a goal
[15:17] mkl1: for instance, one objective could be "increase conversion of sign ups to into active mappers to 25%"
[15:17] RichardF: the goal is surely OSMF's goal - the one about encouraging free geodata.
[15:18] mkl1: yea, goal is the wrong word. that's the mission. but what do we actually want to acheive in an objective measurement?
[15:18] apmon: mkl1: Currently our conversion rate of sign ups to "at least one edit" is at 43% ( )
[15:19] mkl1: one objective that's been clear all along is to keep the server resources available for creation of map data
[15:20] RichardF: mkl1: the raison d'être of the project is an openly-licensed map of the world which people can use. so there are metrics that you can measure that against, e.g. amount of data, %age of landmass covered, and number of planet downloads. prioritising the metrics to aim for is the difficult bit 
[15:20] mkl1: apmon: we can define active mappers according to a different statistic. less than three edits isn't active to me
[15:21] apmon: Yes, there would be a bunch of interesting other statistics one can run, but so far I haven't done that
[15:21] RichardF: number of active mappers is a bit of a smokescreen. it's not an aim in itself.
[15:21] apmon: but if we come up with other useful metrics, I might be able to help to calculate them
[15:22] RichardF: it doesn't really matter to us whether we have 200 active mappers who spend all day on OSM, or 20,000 who spend five minutes total, as long as the result is the same.
[15:22] RichardF: (until we have to contact them all for a relicensing, that is  )
[15:22] mkl1: yea, and we don't need to have all the objectives be strictly numreical. for instance "make use of osm data easier"
[15:22] mkl1: Mike Migurski's talk at SOTM was a good exploration of the issues there
[15:22] apmon: btw "first edit rate" has been about constant since 2009 ( )
[15:23] mkl1: apmon: so has the website interface, since 2005 
[15:23] RichardF: mkl1: ahem - we've rewritten the editor _twice_ since 2005 
[15:23] RichardF: (when I say "we", I mean... oh, you know the rest)
[15:24] mkl1: RichardF: oops yes!!
[15:24] RichardF: you can have the Java applet back if you like!
[15:24] apmon: mkl1: If we would continue to grow exponentially, then having a constant website wouldn't necessarily matter
[15:24] mkl1: there's still a barrier to entry. for instance, we may measure activity not only by edits. there may just be a natural percentage of people who want to edit
[15:25] mkl1: but there's other ways to participate ... reporting "bugs" for instance, or using data, etc
[15:25] mkl1: anyway, we're getting into the details of the discussion
[15:26] mkl1: the point is, how do we as OSMF and the OSM community come to a clear strategic plan?
[15:27] RichardF: first step; identify what is stopping OSM/OSMF's mission being fulfilled
[15:28] mkl1: the weaknesses and threats
[15:28] RichardF: yep.
[15:29] stevenfeldman: I know I may get shouted at but I still don't think there is enough clarity about the high level vision, without that it is difficuult to see whether things fit or don't
[15:30] apmon: stevenfeldman: The high level vision is to get enough mappers to sustain data quality in as many countries as possible
[15:30] rweait: "Collaboratively create the best, most timely. map possible"
[15:30] RichardF: stevenfeldman: ok. OSMF mission statement is "It is dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free geospatial data and to providing geospatial data for anyone to use and share." What do you think needs clarifying about that? (not rhetorical, genuine question)
[15:30] apmon: and to make the data usable that it isn't just a hughe dump of random xml data, but actually beneficial to people
[15:30] mkl1: sorry to be a strategic planning strictist, but those are both the mission
[15:31] mkl1: the vision is the thing we want to see in the world, that may never be achieved
[15:31] mkl1: "a free and open map of the entire world" for instance
[15:31] stevenfeldman: richardf: problem with that is it is open to several interpretations, re quality coverage, usage etc
[15:31] RichardF: apmon: it isn't OSMF's role to make the data usable. it might be, however, its role to encourage the data becoming usable.
[15:32] mkl1: apmon: "not a huge dump of random xml data" would be an objective
[15:32] RichardF: stevenfeldman: but that's also a strength - we are not behoven to one person's idea of what the ideal map is.
[15:32] RichardF: apmon: in other words, other people can make the data usable (maps, routing, whatever), it doesn't have to be OSMF making it usable
[15:32] RichardF: that's a fundamental of how OSM works 
[15:32] mkl1: RichardF: but setting the stage for what would make it usable
[15:33] mkl1: that might mean letting Migurski overhaul the interface (for instance, not suggesting this)
[15:33] apmon: It imho  has to be a goal of OSMF to make sure someone can and does make the data usable
[15:33] mkl1: +1
[15:33] stevenfeldman: I have just spent a week at the uk geoconference largely promoting OSM to a public sector audience and I promise you that they don't have a clear enough understanding of how our mission relates to quality and coverage
[15:33] RichardF: mkl1: yes, absolutely. "support and encourage".
[15:34] RichardF: stevenfeldman: UK public sector is always 500 steps behind everyone else - I used to work there. I'm not saying we ignore them, but it's a salient point - we do not advance our mission or anyone else's by listening to the most backwards part of the IT economy.
[15:34] RichardF: but don't tell my sister I said that because she's a senior civil servant 
[15:35] stevenfeldman: richardf: they are really keen to engage with us and I think i made some high level breakthroughs this week
[15:35] RichardF: stevenfeldman: good 
[15:35] mkl1: stevenfeldman: sounds like a communication issue. how do we help this constiuency understand how OSM works?
[15:35] mkl1: that might mean an activity like "encouring someont to write a 1 pagers on OSM for paleogeographers"
[15:36] stevenfeldman: have a look at (ignore the map which is a place holder only at the moment) the blog bit summarises the objectives of the project
[15:36] RichardF: blog bit?
[15:36] stevenfeldman: I had fun talking crowd and open to hard core paleos who want to join in
[15:36] stevenfeldman:
[15:37] apmon: perhaps a different question: Can we shield people from having to understand "how OSM works" while still using OSM responsibly
[15:38] mkl1: stevenfeldman: great stuff. and there are other good efforts as well in qaulity measurements. is one objective of the OSMF to try to bring the efforts together, at least in an overview of all the work?
[15:38] RichardF: stevenfeldman: interesting read. I'm not sure I agree with it, but interesting read 
[15:39] stevenfeldman: I am taking the conversation offline but I think understanding what motivated the project and some of the challenges that we face may help to feed into the strategic process (multiplied by similar thoughts for other user groups/types)
[15:40] stevenfeldman: richardf: I would be surprised if you did agree but it got me a room full of paleos to talk OSM to and might get us in front of UK Location council
[15:40] • RichardF giggles
[15:41] RichardF: I think your conclusion that "projects like OSM-GB may attract a new group of user/contributors who recognise the opportunities that OSM offers them" is key. OSM becoming authoritative is not necessarily a bad thing, possibly a good thing.
[15:41] RichardF: the key is to see if that can be done _without_ detracting from the project's amazing strengths right now.
[15:41] mkl1: yea, I don't see that needing to change the fundamental way the project operates, as a wiki
[15:42] mkl1: but having better tools to check quality, better tools to build community, that is excellent
[15:42] RichardF: yes
[15:42] RichardF: having some people to build the tools. that would be nice, too.
[15:42] RichardF: </wishful_thinking>
[15:43] mkl1: OSMF has decided to act on that one. engineering irc chats
[15:43] RichardF: mkl1: yes, EWG is good and I'm enjoying being on it, but it's a hard question
[15:43] stevenfeldman: My big hope is to turn users of the map into contributors, particularly people with massive local knowledge of geography
[15:45] chrisfl_: I would agree - turning users into contributors is a good objective, especially in area's with a smaller number of "natural contributors"
[15:46] mkl1: so, we have 15 minutes left, and this is good discussion
[15:46] mkl1: but i don't think the SWG should be in the job of deciding these objectives and acitivities
[15:46] mkl1: but rather crafting the process so the OSMF as a whole can decide it
[15:46] mkl1: that's a lot harder actually 
[15:46] apmon: As part of the strategic planning, we should try and identify the groups of people who do contribute (or who we want to have contributing), identify the biggest barriers of entry for each group and come up with suggestions of how to lower those barriers
[15:47] apmon: then swg will have to hope that someone else enacts those suggestions
[15:47] • RichardF cringes
[15:47] RichardF: I was with you until "come up with suggestions"
[15:47] RichardF: it is _absolutely_ not SWG's job to second-guess the talented people who do stuff
[15:48] RichardF: it is SWG's, and OSMF's, job to support and encourage.
[15:48] apmon: So I think, some of the "persona" definitions and development suggested on design would be a good start
[15:48] RichardF: it is not our job to design stuff of which we have no knowledge.
[15:49] mkl1: yea, it seems to be going pretty well without us getting super involved. perhaps just some guidance and encouragement there, about where things should go
[15:49] RichardF: yep. it needs to stay reasonably high-level - that's what SWG is about.
[15:49] RichardF: we identify the strategy. others decide on the execution.
[15:50] apmon: It should imho be the job of swg to come up with data / statistics to help others to make good informed decisions of what would help most
[15:50] chrisfl_: +1
[15:50] RichardF: that certainly wouldn't hurt, pace the usual proviso about "lies, damn lies" 
[15:51] apmon: RichardF: you can leave the "make suggestions" out if you don't like that part 
[15:51] rweait: apmon: not really.  For example, Migurski asked for some user stats.  Operations is implementing that.  SWG should provide any hardware that is needed for that goal. 
[15:51] stevenfeldman: If an objective is to increase coverage then do we need to encourage initiatives within the community that target, geographies or types of users?
[15:51] rweait: swg shouldn't "make statistics", just enable community to do so. etc.
[15:52] rweait: stevenfeldman: OSM does so with GPStoGo, for example.
[15:52] mkl1: GPSToGo is being relaunched by samlarsen1
[15:52] RichardF: excellent.
[15:53] stevenfeldman: Yup and I am hoping that our osmgb will do something in the UK but we need to stimulate more initiatives within a structue
[15:53] rweait: SWg, like the foundation and all WGs exist only to remove barriers for mappers.  
[15:53] RichardF: stevenfeldman @ 16.51: I think this comes down to "support and encourage" again. There is no remit for OSMF to say "we need 100% addressing coverage" and to direct the community to that.
[15:53] RichardF: stevenfeldman: but, if there is community enthusiasm and effort towards that, OSMF could and should support that.
[15:54] mkl1: rweait: i think we hit on one point of divergence in objectives during the AGM.
[15:54] rweait: so if the gb community is screaming for better addressing, and creates a tool to make addressing simpler, but it "needs a server", we should be sure that server is available.
[15:54] mkl1: does the osmf serve users of data too? i think so
[15:54] RichardF: rweait: _exactly_.
[15:55] rweait: mkl1: No, I don't think there is divergence.  I'm right. 
[15:55] stevenfeldman: richardf: agree about the support and encourage
[15:55] RichardF: mkl1: as ever, it serves users of data within "It is dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free geospatial data and to providing geospatial data for anyone to use and share."
[15:55] RichardF: but that isn't the same as saying "we tell our mappers to do what the users want" 
[15:55] rweait: we have to serve the mappers.  Everything else is less important. 
[15:55] mkl1: you made that clear, rweait
[15:55] rweait:
[15:56] apmon: There was a somewhat interesting discussion about this on talk-de ( and follow-ups)
[15:56] stevenfeldman: surely if the users want something we need to help/facilitate them to do it?
[15:56] apmon: part of it was how to get people wanting to sponsor hardware to people who want to do things with it
[15:56] rweait: mappers also want to serve consumers.  That's fine.  That's why we map.  So people will use the data.
[15:56] mkl1: yea, i think treating them as second class citizens is not the way
[15:57] mkl1: anyway
[15:57] mkl1: we have 3 minutes left
[15:57] rweait: at least individual users are higher on the scale than companies.  Companies aren't even people.,  So they don't count at all..
[15:58] mkl1: rweait: recognize that not everyone agress with your characterization
[15:58] RichardF: stevenfeldman: could you expand on that? if I, as a data consumer, say "I want a complete cycle network map of the UK", how can/should OSMF react to my "I want"?
[15:58] apmon: The big question is what concretely can and should we do?
[15:58] chrisfl_: But priority at the moment should be for mappers and individual consumers that may become mappers.
[15:58] mkl1: chrisfl_: sure we can have priorities, but i think that's different than telling users of data that they are less important
[15:59] mkl1: ok, we have to close the meeting
[15:59] mkl1: homework
[15:59] chrisfl_: yes - is's a subtle difference 
[15:59] mkl1: come with concrete suggestions with how to expand this discussion and strategic planning process to the whole OSMF.
[15:59] mkl1: perhaps through the a recommendation to the management team
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[16:00] mkl1: next meeting would be in two weeks time .... but i definitely can't make it, getting married
[16:00] mkl1: so someone else would need to chair ... like OSMF Board Member Fairhurst 
[16:01] • RichardF giggles
[16:01] RichardF: would be happy to
[16:01] RichardF: and, congratulations 
[16:01] mkl1: cool, and thanks 
[16:02] chrisfl_: mkl1 you really need a better excuse 
[16:02] mkl1: ok, thanks. we can keep up the discussion, but official meeting closed
[16:02] mkl1: chrisfl_: how bout that my life would be in danger if i attended?
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[16:03] chrisfl_: that works 
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