Tag Archives: osi

OSI Update: May 2019

A brick buildig with a wooden sign that says "Come in we're open source!"

At the most recent Open Source Initiative face-to-face board meeting I was elected president of the board of directors. In the spirit of transparency, I wanted to share a bit about my goals and my vision for the organization over the next five years. These thoughts are my own, not reflecting official organization policy or plans. They do not speak to the intentions nor desires of other members of the board. I am representing my own thoughts, and where I’d like to see the future of the OSI go.

A little context on the OSI

You can read all about the history of “open source” and the OSI, so I will spare you the history lesson for now. I believe the following are the organization’s main activities:

There are lots of other things the OSI does, to support the above activities and in addition to them. As I mentioned in my 2019 election campaign, most of what we do vacillates between “niche interesting” to “onerous,” with “boring” and “tedious” also on that list. We table at events, give talks, write and approve budgets, answer questions, have meetings, maintain our own pet projects, read mailing lists, keep up with the FLOSS/tech news, tweet, host events, and a number of other things I am inevitably forgetting.

The OSI, along with the affiliate and individual membership, defines the future of open source, through the above activities and then some.

Why I decided to run for president

I’ve been called an ideologue, an idealist, a true believer, a wonk, and a number of other things — flattering, embarrassing, and offensive — concerning my relationship to free and open source software. I recently said that “user freedom is the hill I will die on, and let the carrion birds feast on my remains.” While we are increasingly discussing the ethical considerations of technology we need to also raise awareness of the ways user freedom and software freedom are entwined with the ethical considerations of computing. These philosophies need to be in the foundational design of all modern technologies in order for us to build technology that is ethical.

I have a vision for the way the OSI should fit into the future of technology, I think it’s a good vision, and I thought that being president would be a good way to help move that forward. It also gave me a very concrete and candid opportunity to share my hopes for the present and the future with my fellow board directors, to see where they agree and where they dissent, and to collaboratively build a cohesive organizational mission.

So, what is my vision?

I have two main goals for my presidency: 1) strategic growth of the organization while encouraging sustainability and 2) re-examining and revising the license approval process where necessary.

I have a five point list of things I would like to see be true for the OSI over the next five years:

  • Organizational relevance: The OSI should continue its important mission of stewarding the OSD, the license list, and the integrity of the term open source.
  • Provide expert guidance on open source: Have others approach us for opinions and advice, and be looked to as an authority on issues and questions.
  • Coordinate contact within the community: Have a role connecting people with others within the community in order to share expertise and become better open source citizens.
  • A clear, effective license approval process: Have a clear licensing process, comprised of experts in the field of licensing, with a range of opinions and points of view, in order to create and maintain a healthy list of open source licenses.
  • Support growing projects: Provide strategic assistance wherever OSI is best placed to do so. For example, providing fiscal sponsorship where we are uniquely qualified to help a project flourish.

An additional disclaimer

As I mentioned above, these are my thoughts and opinions, and do not represent plans for the organization nor the opinions of the rest of the board. They are some things I think would be nice to see. After all, according to the bylaws my actual privileges and responsibilities as president are to “preside over all board meetings,” accept resignations, and call “special meetings.”

OSI Board elections – 2019

I’m running for the Open Source Initiative board of directors!

To be more precise, I’m running for re-election, as I’ve served on the board for the past three years.

Deciding whether to run again has caused me to ask a few questions:

  • Do I feel like I accomplished enough over the past three years?
  • Do I think I would do a better job than other candidates?
  • Is this the right use of my time?

What have I accomplished?

The first and foremost responsibility of a board member is to participate in calls and meetings. I’ve participated in weekly check-ins with the general manager, team calls for the Membership team, monthly board calls, twice a year face-to-face meetings, and other miscellaneous calls and meetings as they became necessary.

When talking about the election, I keep emphasizing the mundane aspects of being on a board. Having policy opinions and vision and ideas are great — but can you focus during a six hour meeting?  (I knit and keep my laptop mostly closed to help with that.)

I enjoy tabling at conferences, and have done a lot of this on behalf of the OSI at events like Paris Open Source Summit and OSCON.

I served as assistant treasurer of the organization, and helped with fundraising activities — I consider it part of the duty of a board member to help with the fiscal stability of an organization. I participated in the organization of activities to expand affiliate engagement in the OSI, and helped instigate initiatives to expand the membership of the organization. I regularly read license-review and license-discuss, to keep up with the conversation around FLOSS licensing.

Above all, I’ve been an advocate for the necessity of recognizing user freedom in all conversations around FLOSS.

Do I think I would do a good job over the next three years?

As I said in my platform, working on a board isn’t glamorous. I’m interested in organizational sustainability and keeping the lights on at the OSI. Having vision and ideas is important, but you have to also be interested in seeing an organization continue to exist and being able to do the work required on a basic level.

In general, the OSI needs a working board. It can be hard to build one from community votes, when everyone involved is already accomplished and hard working in FLOSS. I have a number of other projects I am involved with (most notably my day job in free software, my work on the Debian Outreach and Anti-harassment teams, and baking, biking, climbing, and music). I’ve already proven that I am willing and able to make time for the OSI.

I know I can help the OSI, and that’s my primary goal. I have started projects, and there are more projects I would like to start, that are only possible as a member of the board. I would not like to abandon my work half-way finished, and instead see it through to fruition.

Is this the best use of my time?

I dedicate most of my professional and personal time to creating a world where rights respecting technology is the standard.

With licenses like the Server Side Public License, proposals like the Commons Clause, and criticism of the Open Source Definition, it’s become more important than ever to push for the integrity and necessity of open source. Open source is not a developmental model — though there are certain models of development enabled by using an open source license. Open Source is about user freedom. If I want to make sure our rights are respected in technology, there is no better place to do it than on the front lines.

In summary

Vote for me! I’m running for an affiliate seat. If you know someone who is at or representing an affiliate organization, please share this with them or put them in touch with me! If your user group, community organization, or FLOSS nonprofit isn’t already an affiliate, consider becoming one — even if you miss the opportunity to vote for me.

Why I want you to run for the OSI board

The Open Source Initiative board is homogeneous, stratified across generations.

We fit across three (tech) generations of contributors to free and open source software–those who were involved in the early days of free software; those who found places in the community after open source had been established; and the group paultag humorously dubbed the GNU generation–none of us have lived in a world without the explicit concept of user freedom.

Within my cadre of FOSS-loving millennials, several of us have fairly similar stories, both inside of our FOSS lives and out: we all had formative life experiences of financial hardship, and tech helped us emerge into comfortable, middle-class lifestyles. We’re all community-focused and have worked as community managers. We’ve been finalists for the same jobs.

That is to say, while we have different opinions and different outlooks, we all come from fairly similar places.

While I would not go as far as to say the same is true across each generation represented in the board, we do a fairly good job of agreeing with one another. Occasionally we argue, but that frequently comes from practical points and specific concerns relating to the gritty logistics of making decisions for an organization.

We have a range of experiences represented when you take the board as a whole, but not as different as I would like to see.

The fact is, the board does not represent the greater FOSS community. This is why it’s important for more people to join the OSI–in order to vote in elections and make sure their voices are represented. In order for this representation to be real, we need people from different backgrounds and viewpoints to stand for election and become board members.

To say this in more explicit terms: the OSI board is extremely (exclusively) white. Two board members are European, eight of us from the United States, and there is one Canadian. I think this is a problem.

What do I want from you? If you’re from outside North America, I want you to run for the OSI board. If you’re a racial minority, I want you to run for the OSI board. If you come from a background that is a part of the FOSS movement, but not represented, I want you to run for the OSI board. Are you from North America? Are you white? Are you a college educated coder working in a cool tech job? That is -awesome-. I am some of those things. I want you to reach out to your friends with different backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge and encourage them to run for the OSI board.

Think you’re unqualified? You’re totally not. One of the things I’ve learned about life–and especially FOSS–from three of my amazing free software mentors is that we’re never qualified when we start something new–or at least we don’t feel that way. I had no clue what I was doing when I first thought about running for the OSI board. All I knew was that I wanted to do more for the community.

Think you’re too busy? You might be! You might not be! We’re a pretty busy lot, and we each put in what we’re capable of. Sometimes that’s advice and ideas; sometimes it’s fundraising, financial literacy skills, ideas, organizing, writing, and anything else you bring to the table.

Think you’ve nothing to say? I bet you do.

Joining a board is not only about you–it’s about giving back to the community that has given you so much. It’s about pushing a movement forward. It’s about bringing the ideas and voices of others to the table, and making sure that everyone is heard.

If you’re interested in running, but scared, uncertain, don’t think you’re qualified, want help, or just want to talk more about the responsibilities, please email me at molly [at] opensource [dot] org or Josh Simmons at josh [at] opensource [dot] org.

Board members also get sweet email addresses, and that alone is reason enough to run. 🙂

Previously, the board was appointed by the board. This gave them the opportunity to create a group representing a range of experiences and skill sets, as well as fill necessary niches of knowledge (licensing, technical skills, community organization, etc). Now that we have a board elected by membership, it’s more crucial for people to both nominate themselves, if they don’t see enough representation, and join the OSI. In order for elections to actually reflect the FLOSS community, wee need a strong, varied membership from all over the world. So, in addition to running or encouraging your friends to run, consider joining as an Individual or Affiliate member.