[Numpy-discussion] Numpy governance update - was: Updated differences between 1.5.1 to 1.6.1
Tue Feb 14 17:33:01 CST 2012
On Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 1:54 PM, Travis Oliphant <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> There is a mailing list for numfocus that you can sign up for if you would
> like to be part of those discussions. Let me know if you would like more
> information about that. John Hunter, Fernando Perez, me, Perry
> Greenfield, and Jarrod Millman are the initial board of the Foundation.
> But, I expect the Foundation directors to evolve over time.
> I should say that I have no knowledge of the events above other than
> from the mailing list (I say that only because some of you may know
> that I'm a friend and colleague of Jarrod and Fernando).
> Thanks for speaking up, Matthew. I knew that this was my first
> announcement of the Foundation to this list. Things are still just
> starting around that organization, and so there is plenty of time for input.
> This sort of thing has actually been under-way for a long time --- it just
> has not received much impetus until now for one reason or another.
> To be clear, there were several email posts about a Foundation to this list
> last fall and we took the discussion of the Foundation that has really been
> in the works for a couple of years (thanks to Jarrod), to a Google Group
> (very poorly) called Fastechula. There were 33 people who signed up for
> that list and discussions continued sporadically on that list away from this
> When we selected the name NumFOCUS just a few weeks ago, we created the list
> for numfocus and then I signed everyone up for that list who was on the
> other one. I apologize if anyone felt left out. That is not my
My point is that there are two ways go to about this process, one is
open and the other is closed. In the open version, someone proposes
such a group to the mailing lists. They ask for expressions of
interest. The discussion might then move to another mailing list that
is publicly known and widely advertised. Members of the board are
proposed in public. There might be some sort of formal or informal
voting process. The reason to prefer this to the more informal
private negotiations is that a) the community feels a greater
ownership and control of the process and b) it is much harder to
weaken or subvert an organization that explicitly does all its
business in public.
The counter-argument usually goes 'members X, Y and Z are of
impeccable integrity and would only do what is best for the public
good'. And usually, members X, Y and Z are indeed of impeccable
integrity. Nevertheless I'm sure I don't have to unpack the evidence
that this approach frequently fails and can fail in a catastrophic
> Perceptions can be damaging. This is one of the big reasons for the
> organization of the Foundation -- to be a place separate from any commercial
> venture which can direct resources to a vision whose goal is more
> democratically determined.
Are you proposing that the Foundation oversee Numpy governance and
direction? From your chosen members I'm guessing that the idea is
for the foundation to think about broad strategy rather than - say -
whether missing values should be encoded with masked arrays?
> I think we do have a NumPy steering group if you want to call it that.
> It is currently me, Mark Wiebe, and Charles Harris. Rolf Gommers, Pauli
> Virtanen, David Cournapeau and Robert Kern also have opinions that carry
> significant weight. Are there other people that should be on this list?
> There are other people who also speak up on this list whose opinions will
> be listened to and heard. In fact, I hope that many more people will come
> to the list and speak out as development increases.
The point I was making was that the concentration of numpy development
hours and talent in your company makes it urgent that the numpy
governance is set out formally, that the interests of the company are
made clear, and that the steering group can be assured of explicit and
public independence from the interests of the company, if and when
that becomes necessary. In the past, the numpy steering group has
seemed a virtual organization, formed ad-hoc when needed, and with no
formal governance. I'm saying that I firmly believe that has to
change, to avoid the actual or perceived loss of community ownership.
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