Re: Second Call for nominations - 2007 SPI Board Election

From: Ian Jackson <ijackson(at)chiark(dot)greenend(dot)org(dot)uk>
To: secretary(at)spi-inc(dot)org, spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Re: Second Call for nominations - 2007 SPI Board Election
Date: 2007-07-17 20:28:52
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I thought I should write a more extended submission for my board

My views on SPI

I think SPI's chief role should continue to be accepting and spending
tax-free donations in the USA for use by Free Software projects. A
wider field of projects is a good thing but we should grow organically
rather than conducting a massive campaign to get new projects.

I'm in favour of SPI giving its blessing and support to other useful
and good activities which SPI members are keen to do. I don't see it
as the SPI Board's role to solicit such volunteers or projects, but
rather to act as a friendly advisor and of course a gatekeeper to
ensure that SPI's activities are legal and SPI's assets aren't put at

I pushed for SPI's current membership-driven governance structure and
I'm glad to see that that is working well now.

Chief challenges for SPI

Our recent Treasurer, Josh Berkus, has done sterling work on improving
our financial administration but the arrangements are still sometimes
ad-hoc and disorganised. This is still a source of great concern to
me. I still think this area needs to be improved. I would like to
see professionals take on much more of the routine administration.

Our bylaws are a mess and the previous process for updating them has
stalled. This ought to be fixed.


I thought it would be interesting to note the main decisions made by
the SPI Board which seemed controversial to me - in particular, there
were two where I was outvoted which come particularly to my mind:

* The board decided to transfer the domain name to the
Open Source Initiative. I disagreed because I feel that is a resource which rightly belongs to the whole
community and that OSI's governance structure doesn't reflect

* The board decided to accept the Open Voting Foundation as an
Associated Project. I disagreed because I feel that computers are
inherently untrustworthy in the context of public elections and
that making it Free Software is at best a red herring and at worst
a diversion.

I don't mean to re-open the debates on those subjects. I mention them
because but one of the key roles of a board member is to vote on
matters presented to the board for decision and I would like the
SPI members to consider the likely voting behaviour of their

There were of course many other disagreements, mostly over essentially
administrative matters.

I'm glad to say that in both of the above cases we were able at least
amongst the board to have a reasonable and productive discussion.
Disagreement and controversy is healthy in a functioning organisation.

The discussion on should have been held in public but
was not. As a board member at the time I apologise for that failing -
and as the eventually defeated chief opponent of the transfer I regret
not enlisting the help of the membership.

I will continue to press for SPI to act in the best interests of
society at large as I see it, taking into consideration the views of
the membership and the rest of the board. Needless to say I will
continue to honour the decisions of the board even when I disagree
with them.

My background

I've been involved in Free Software since 1989. My most notable
contributions have been to Debian: I'm the original author of dpkg,
the Debian Constitution and the Debian bug system. I'm still involved
with Debian and am also a GNU maintainer.

I've been involved in SPI almost since its founding and am very
pleased to have seen it change over the years to the reasonably
competent and member-controlled organisation it is today.

I'm currently employed by Canonical as a developer to work on Ubuntu.
If any conflict of interest between Canonical and SPI were to arise I
would of course recuse myself appropriately.



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