I'm finishing up a book from Ryan Holiday, called "Ego is the Enemy". It's for all intents and purposes a follow on to his previous book "The Obstacle is the Way". To be completely honest, these books (If I was a computer) form my "operating system" for how I've approached my life lately. Ego is the Enemy really spelled out to me what's important in life and more specifically-- what really matters in what you do with your life.
It's allowed me not to take myself so seriously, and also, not to place such a value on silly things, like job titles, whether or not people "know of" me, how many followers on twitter I have, whether or not I score a meeting with an executive at my firm that would remember me, who's checked out my LinkedIn, or care about if someone mentioned work I've done. All that I just mentioned are distractions from my true work, which is just working with data for internal and external projects as a consultant. Many of those ego feeding pursuits will tend to bleed out of the workday and into personal time too, with constant app refreshes, and keeping score on social media. I'm not advocating to unplug from everything besides work, school, and family in my life, but rather elevate those activities to the top of the heap, and stop focusing on those activities that just drain my energy and time (the scarcest resource).
What's the punchline? What does that have to do with Ego? Well, I just discovered slack, and there's a great gis community up there called The Spatial Community. I was driven there because I saw a tweet about a premium slack community that was being proposed on Kickstarter called MapClub. What irked me was that you would get access to three mapping "Luminaries" by joining for the low low cost of $99 per person, and that the first ten backers would be considered founding members. At first, one side of my brain said "do it man! You have no idea what slack is, but this will give you access to a luminary (yeah, a luminary), and if you get in now, you'll be a founding member!". Then the other side of my brain kicked in, and asked questions like, "Why fragment an already established community instead of making it better if you don't agree with some things? This dude isn't a Jack Dangermond, Roger Tomlinson, or Charles Picquet, but he's proclaiming himself and a few others as a luminary. Now let's back up and try to decode that word: Luminary.
This struck me: "A person who inspires or influences others, especially one prominent in a particular sphere." So why would you need to start something new, when there's an existing community with over 1200 users in it? Can't you use your influence there? No, instead it was insinuated that the reason it was $99 a head was to "keep the crazies out". Hmm.
What also has irked me is the premium price tag, that's way above and beyond the Slack Pricing plus model at $12.50 a head. Where's the rest go? To the bouncers at the door that keep the crazies out? This is starting to look like a "who loves me? And how much will they pay to access me contest" Or as I thought in my head, Tidal4Geo.
All that aside, I decided to look into Slack's TOS, to see if this was even allowed. Section 6.7 states that you can’t
: sublicense, resell, rent, lease, transfer or assign (except as permitted in Section 16) the Service or its use, or offer the Service on a time share basis to any third party
Then I decided to look into Kickstarter's TOS, and prohibited items to see if this was allowed. [ Here's where things get interesting] (https://www.kickstarter.com/rules/prohibited)
So what's the reward? Let's pull that from the site:
Thanks for sticking with me thus far... We're almost there. The benefits of joining, or rather the reward (Kickstarter Terms Verbiage) is membership to a slack group. Doesn't slack's TOS state that you can't resell, rent, lease, transfer or assign the Service? Think about the fact that you're purchasing a membership for a Slack group through what's presented as an affiliate broker (of which it's not), Kickstarter to handle the transaction. Isn't this web phishing 101? I know my company made me take some sort of training like this. The premise is, if you see a different url in the address bar that's different from the product or brand you're about to purchase, it's most likely the first "red flag".
Slack has its own Terms of Service, and by joining via slack (not through resale), you're subject to those should they decide to change those terms of service in the future.
That above means you're paying $99 dollars per year to an entity other than the service provider (Slack), for access to an exclusive service from said service provider (a private slack group), and Slack can shut off the lights at any time. Who do you go to then with your grievance? Slack? Kickstarter? The Luminaries?
So for anyone who's tempted to join, go for it. But there should be questions like, who's handling the membership annual transactions after one year? How long will kickstarter handle this as the storefront for the resale of the private slack group?
I really don't care if the MapClub treehouse survives or dies, because I don't pay for friends.
This whole campaign speaks to a larger issue in GIS. It's the feeling that GIS (and it's self-proclaimed superstars) are somehow unique or special just by virtue of being. We don't need walled garden clubhouses with exclusive access to its "movers and shakers". Because the bottom line is that while you're out there spinning up self-congratulatory clubs as proof of your popularity, some group of real movers and shakers are coding up the next Big Thing that will use geospatial tech (think Pokémon Go). Do you even think these shops refer to themselves as Mapping luminaries? I think not.