[OSGeo-Conf] [Board] Fwd: Analysing the downfall of FOSS4G 2011

Tim Sutton lists at linfiniti.com
Fri Aug 17 11:15:15 PDT 2012


On Fri, Aug 17, 2012 at 7:52 PM, Jeff McKenna
<jmckenna at gatewaygeomatics.com> wrote:
> Hi Tim,
> Thanks for your comments.   I respect your opinions on this, being a
> veteran of FOSS4G yourself and a leader.  I'll respond to the
> conference-dev mailing list for all to follow (thanks for joining).
> Comments inline below:
> On 12-08-17 1:54 PM, Tim Sutton wrote:
>> One thing that struck me as an obvious place for improvement when we
>> were organising the CT FOSS4G in 2010 was the absence of any usable 'out
>> of the box' web infrastructure from OSGEO for running the conference in
>> particular:
>> - abstract submission
>> - conference pre-registration and at event registration
>> - sharing of talk presentation materials
>> - event planning (e.g. tools
>> like http://www.jboss.org/drools/drools-planner/ coould be used to
>> optimise the event schedule)
>> - project management within the loc
>> It seems that in most case the LOC contracts local people to provide
>> this - in our case IIRC the professional event organisers we used
>> provided the registration service for example which I believe
>> contributed to a substantial part of their fee (Gav correct me if I am
>> wrong here). It strikes me that the same problem is solved (probably
>> suboptimally) over again for each conference and it would make
>> conference hosting substantially easier if these things were in place
>> already when the LOC convenes. Wouldn't this be a good place for OSGEO
>> to invest revenue from conferences? Then with each conference it would
>> be simply a matter of deploying a new 'instance' of the software suite
>> for the purposes of the conference, theming the site and being on your way.
> Excellent point.  We battle this issue each and every FOSS4G (from back
> in 2006 the LOC's use of proprietary "Indico" CMS, to our own attempts
> to host a freely available "Open Conference System" on our servers in
> 2008/2009, to even now with the FOSS4G 2013 LOC planning to use a closed
> BaseCamp system).  I have been diligently trying to archive files each
> and every year no matter what the system (quite an amazing archive in
> SVN if you care to check it out: http://svn.osgeo.org/osgeo/foss4g/);
> but the reality is that it is difficult to always bug each LOC to share
> files, and inevitably much information is lost.
> I would agree that if the OSGeo Board really wants the annual FOSS4G
> conference to be profitable, resources must be dedicated for it (and a
> conference hosting infrastructure could be part of that).
>> Many of the things needed can be provided by open source software but
>> having them pre-configured (e.g. issue categories in trac or a
>> conference theme for wordpress with page stubs and suitable plugins set
>> up etc) by experienced conference organisers would be an excellent way
>> of batton passing to the next LOC team.
>> I think some targetted investement in getting web presence and
>> conference organisation tools re-usable would substantially help to
>> ensure the success, and reduce the overheads of, future events.
> Tim are you saying that we should internally build this system
> ourselves?  I think we should choose to either: A) fund some developers
> to develop this for us, or B) use an existing conference hosting service
> and stick with that each year (even put this in writing in the hosting
> RFP that the event must be operated within this OSGeo conference system).
> I personally side with option B (I know we have the internal skills, but
> to save the hassle we could use an existing service).
> What do you prefer Tim?

I also prefer B. I'm not very familiar with conference organising
software (FOSS or Commercial) so I don't know what range of
functionality they offer. So if the first prize scenario I agree just
using and sticking with a conference hosting service would be great.
If the tool offerings miss useful bits it might be worth aggregating
the remaining functionality (e.g. issue tracker) from the FOSS
ecosystem and providing a persistent hosting platform for them (and
paying someone to do that if it comes to it). If folks feel the idea
has legs, it would be worth polliing past organisers to see what
critical functionality they needed (or missed) in previous events.



> -jeff
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Tim Sutton - QGIS Project Steering Committee Member (Release  Manager)
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