[Numpy-discussion] Numpy governance update - was: Updated differences between 1.5.1 to 1.6.1

Benjamin Root ben.root@ou....
Tue Feb 14 18:07:45 CST 2012


On Tuesday, February 14, 2012, Matthew Brett <matthew.brett@gmail.com>
wrote:
> Hi,
>
> On Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 1:54 PM, Travis Oliphant <travis@continuum.io>
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
>> one.
>>
>> 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
>> intention.
>
> 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
> way.
>
>> 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.
>
> Best,
>
> Matthew
>

I have to agree with Mathew here, to a point.  There has been discussions
of these groups before, but I don't recall any announcement of this group.
 Of course, now that it has been announced, maybe a link to it should be
prominent on the numpy/scipy pages(maybe others?).  It should also be in
the list of mailing lists.

A funding org much like the Linux Foundation would be great, and I am all
for it.  A separate governing committee is also important, and I think we
had some very good ideas in previous discussions.

I also have to agree with Matthew's concerns about the concentration of
developer resources at Continuum.  I think that establishing a
community-driven governance committee would be crucial in making sure that
Continuum's (and Enthought's??) efforts go to serve both the community and
the company's customers.

Travis, in about a month, I will be starting up work at a company that has
been users of the SciPy stack, but has not been active members of the
community.  I wish to change that. Will this Funding committee serve as a
face for numpy for private companies?

Thanks,
Ben Root
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