[OSGeo-Conf] Analysing the downfall of FOSS4G 2011

Dave McIlhagga dmcilhagga at dmsolutions.ca
Thu Aug 16 07:11:10 PDT 2012

And there's selection process as well. If the preference for "not North America or Europe" had not been in place - the selection would surely have gone to Prague where there would have been a much stronger likelihood of success.

This and Steven Feldman's recent email about expecting to have some cash for back-stopping FOSS4G in the UK (which is of course more than appropriate) has me questioning again if we really have this committee functioning the way it should.

Given that selection of the FOSS4G site and now making decisions about supporting other events are arguably among the most important decisions OSGeo makes for financial, community building and many other perspectives - does it not make more sense to have this selection and decision made by the board - ie. the people that are in fact selected by the charter membership to make important decisions for the organization?

I'd like to suggest that we re-think the role of the committee to becoming an advisory and support role -- one where we go through the process of reviewing and evaluating proposals, providing feedback etc.., but instead of voting - providing feedback to the board who would then make the decisions.

Once a decision is made by the board -- then this committee's work can shift towards supporting the various LOCs in their efforts to pull off the event that OSGeo is supporting.

I really think that in this light, the decision about FOSS4G 2012 may well have been different.

I would also suggest -- this is an issue the board needs to discuss and make a decision on. Right now, my feeling is the tail is wagging the dog -- and I'm personally uncomfortable with the power this committee has on the overall organization as a result of the decisions we are being asked to make.


On 2012-08-16, at 9:51 AM, Paul Ramsey <pramsey at opengeo.org> wrote:

> You don't think things could have gotten worse? Imagine cancellation
> happening now.
> One possible recourse would have been re-siting, if things were
> decided early enough that would have been possible.
> P.
> On Thu, Aug 16, 2012 at 5:42 AM, Cameron Shorter
> <cameron.shorter at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On 15/08/2012 4:57 AM, Paul Ramsey wrote:
>>> On Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 11:46 AM, Frank Warmerdam <warmerdam at pobox.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>> I agree with Jachym that it is still desirable to give the local
>>>> organizers quite a bit of freedom and that we should accept that
>>>> occasional failure is not a disaster.
>>> On the contrary, I'd say that random failures are a disaster and will
>>> actually contribute to more failures. As Cameron noted in his
>>> document, the success of a conference is tied to the perceived
>>> expectations. Throwing a conference is like throwing a party. Do you
>>> want to go to a lame party? No, you want to go to a rocking party. If
>>> PartyPete throws awesome parties every Thursday, you'll clear your
>>> schedule as next Thursday rolls around. If LameLou throws passable
>>> parties sometimes, and sometimes cancels them, you'll start going to
>>> PartyPete's instead. Consistency is very important.
>>> The same thing will go double for sponsors: are you going to commit to
>>> early sponsorship and send a cheque to an event that was cancelled
>>> last year? Or will you hold on to your cheque until the last minute
>>> just in case? The uncertainty effect is going to make the financial
>>> situation of future conferences more precarious as sponsors and
>>> registrants hedge their bets until later in the calendar. This will
>>> only get worse if we embrace failure as an occasionally acceptable
>>> mode.
>> Paul, as I consider your quote, as I cut it into the wiki, I wonder what
>> recourse OSGeo has to prevent a FOSS4G conference from failing?
>> * The board can block progress, eg: by not approving a budget until it is
>> acceptable. But if the LOC still doesn't perform, what then? I think the
>> board's only recourse is to cancel the conference. Yes, we could have
>> cancelled the FOSS4G 2011 conference earlier. But I would argue that an
>> early cancellation is still a failure.
>> --
>> Cameron Shorter
>> Geospatial Solutions Manager
>> Tel: +61 (0)2 8570 5050
>> Mob: +61 (0)419 142 254
>> Think Globally, Fix Locally
>> Geospatial Solutions enhanced with Open Standards and Open Source
>> http://www.lisasoft.com
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