[OSGeo-Conf] Time to decide on FOSS4G NA 2017

Rob Emanuele rdemanuele at gmail.com
Fri Feb 19 14:41:30 PST 2016

Hi Andrea, thanks for bringing this up on the lists.

My feeling is that based on what knowledge I have and what I can reason
about, I cannot be certain that having a FOSS4G NA in 2017 would *not*
effect both attendance and sponsorship of, and ultimately have a negative
impact on, both events.

My understanding is that sponsors we draw from for FOSS4G NA is a very
similar set of sponsors that FOSS4G would draw from, and given the work
that needs to get done for those companies to sponsor one conference, I
don't think the two teams would be able to convince all of the potential
sponsors to foot two bills without having to pick one conference to favor
over the other.

For attendees who need to pay their own way, or have to justify going to
conferences like FOSS4G to their employers, asking them to foot the bill
for attending both a FOSS4G and a FOSS4G NA might be too much, and them
having to make a choice is going to negatively affect attendance for both
conferences. Because we are trying to build on the momentum of successful
FOSS4G NA's, having one in a year which will necessitate a portion of the
attendee base to choose one or the other conference is a way to actually
stifle momentum, IMO more so than skipping a year. And while I think that
there will be attendees on the west coast that would end up going to a west
coast event but not the international event, I'm not sure this would make
up for the attendees who would be able to attend either but not both
conferences (and also feels a bit like a west-coast or pacific north west
regional event, which might be cool).

If we have both sponsors and attendees that will need to go with one or the
other conference, then that creates a force of schism in the community. I
am not sure how strong that force would be, and I know that whoever would
be in favor of having a regional 2017 conference (which no one has strongly
argued in favor for yet) would not be trying to introduce that type of
force at all. However, I believe we are in a time where the community
coming together really matters: with Jeff stepping down as OSGeo president,
with the echoes of anti-LocationTech sentiment still ringing in many of our
ears from various heated exchanges on the mailing list months ago; also
with the OSGeo board making strides to define and clarify it's vision and
goals, and the work many people from LocationTech, OSGeo and other
organizations or on their own are doing to break down organizational and
other barriers to bring together the wider geospatial open source
community, I think that it is not a good time to have any force of schism,
however light it may be. Instead, let's to work to ensure that the
international event is a success, and then make a big push for a very
successful FOSS4G NA conference in 2018.

I'm glad this topic was brought up, so thanks again. The decision whether
or not to have this specific regional event in the same year as an
international event is not a forgone conclusion (as evidence by the fact
that it has happened for other regional events). And though my and other's
take on it is not in favor of having a FOSS4G NA 2017, hearing about the
potential positives is good to consider, and deserves this discussion. For
me, specifically hearing about Victoria for a potential conference spot
makes me hopeful that it might be located there for 2018...I recently had a
great time in Victoria for the LocationTech code sprint and am looking
forward to going back!

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