[OSGeo-Conf] Is FOSS4G worth it?

Cameron Shorter cameron.shorter at gmail.com
Fri Feb 10 00:32:51 PST 2017

Here is something you probably wouldn't expect a past FOSS4G chair to say:

"Financially speaking, FOSS4G is not worth it."

Yes, that is what I believe.

For most people, the return-on-investment of attending an international 
conference such as FOSS4G doesn't justify attending.

There extensive tourism budgets promoting conferences. These add to our 
own secret desires to travel, meet and network. And it leads to an 
over-inflated value the public places on international conferences.

The majority of participants, (or their companies) are being duped.

Almost all information presented at conferences is readily accessible 
online. In fact, most FOSS4G events are recorded and the rest of the 
world can watch the recordings from home. A conference is a very 
expensive medium for one-to-many presentation styles.

For the presenters, yes it is prestigious to present at an international 
conference. But you can also present at a local event, get recorded, put 
your video on you-tube. If it is good, you will find people watch it. 
Paul Ramsey's presentation "The Unknowns: A Managers Guide to Open 
Source" [1] has been viewed close to 4000 times, which is more than any 
FOSS4G event he presented at.

* There is a stronger business case for workshops where there is a 
chance for one-on-one attention from a teacher. However, there are cost 
effective alternatives. It is more efficient to ship one trainer to a 
classroom of attendees rather than visa-versa. This can be made more 
efficient by grouping workshops into local events. And for the more 
technically savvy, there are Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), 
presented over the web.

* Face-to-face meetings, small birds-of-a-feather meetings and 
code-sprints is what I think is most valuable at a conference. It is 
hard to replicate the effectiveness of such meetings on email, IRC or 
skype calls. But these face-to-face meetings are not essential. I 
haven't met most of you on this conference committee list, and yet I 
feel like I have a personal connection with each of you, through our 
email conversations. I've been one of the coordinators of the OSGeo-Live 
project since it started, and haven't met most of the core developers in 
person. In fact, I haven't even heard the voice of most. And yet we have 
a successful and sustainable project.

* On a different note: The environmental impact of an international 
flight is significant. An international return trip creates 2 to 3 
tonnes of CO2 per traveler. (An average European creates ~ 10 tonnes of 
CO2 per year) [2]. As a geographic community we should be more aware 
than most of the impact of climate change, and as a community we should 
be considering ways to reduce international travel.

* But FOSS4G is an awesome, personally rewarding experience, where you 
get to meet many inspiring people in an exotic location, without being 
distracted by work or family. If OSGeo is your passion, you will 
personally love FOSS4G. If you measure it on a personal level, as you 
would measure the value of a holiday, then you can build a compelling 
reason to travel around the word to attend.

Lets consider these points when assessing the cost, value and price of a 

Cheers, Cameron

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUgiG6eaYtI

On 10/2/17 4:25 am, Paul Ramsey wrote:
> Small, low-frills events held at academic venues may indeed be more 
> financially accessible,  but they also don't tend to throw off $100K 
> in profits to fund the operations of their parent organizations. There 
> is a whole other set of variables being ignore in this reductive 
> discussion of admission fees.
> P.
> On Thu, Feb 9, 2017 at 8:58 AM, <b.j.kobben at utwente.nl 
> <mailto:b.j.kobben at utwente.nl>> wrote:
>     One option not mentioned yet is to cap the conference attendance
>     to max 500 or so, then you can find conference facilities in
>     universities (and possibly even also accommodation there), making
>     it possible to have very "accessible" conference fees.
>      I am not saying I particularly favour this option, and there are
>     many questions (eg. on how to cap -- first come first served?) but
>     it is a possible way to bring costs down...
>     --
>     Barend Köbben
>     On 09/02/17 17:48, "Conference_dev on behalf of Steven Feldman"
>     <conference_dev-bounces at lists.osgeo.org
>     <mailto:conference_dev-bounces at lists.osgeo.org> on behalf of
>     shfeldman at gmail.com <mailto:shfeldman at gmail.com>> wrote:
>         Venka
>         You and others often suggest that a lower fee would attract
>     more participation - that will mainly apply to people travelling
>     from within the region as based on your own numbers for an out of
>     region delegate a saving of $180 represents a 7.5% reduction
>          (in region it is likely to be about 15%)
>         We go round and round on this subject of delegate fees - we
>     can decide to set the limit for an early bird for 2019 in Europe
>     at $500 and then determine
>         1) whether any acceptable bids are forthcoming and
>         2) subsequently whether the lower registration fee results in
>     higher attendance from those who had been unable to attend at £650.
>         Personally I doubt that we will get bids for anything that we
>     would recognise as a FOSS4G Global at $500 registration unless the
>     organisers can get a massive boost in sponsorship in advance of
>     submitting a bid (as Dar es Salaam did with the World
>          Bank sponsorship).
>         The scope for an LOC to offer travel bursaries is likely to be
>     reduced if they are working with smaller budgets due to lower
>     delegate rates.
>         The RfP for 2019 will start in September of this year, just
>     after FOSS4G closes. I look forward to the discussion on pricing
>     and ultimately the vote in the CC before we issue a revised RfP.
>         ______
>         Steven
>         On 9 Feb 2017, at 14:29, Venkatesh Raghavan
>     <venka.osgeo at gmail.com <mailto:venka.osgeo at gmail.com>> wrote:
>         My
>          trip to FOSS4G-Bonn cost me 1500USD for air-tickets, 630USD
>         (early
>          bird Including gala dinner) for registration and 250USD
>         (for
>          7 nights) for sharing a nice little house with Gerald and
>         Nick.
>         All
>          this was paid through my project budget. For example, had the
>         early
>          registration been 180USD cheaper (450USD @150USD/day), I
>         could
>          have sent three of my students to make FOSS4G related
>     presentation at local conferences.
>         So
>          I do not understand the logic that high registration
>         fee
>          is only a "small" fraction of the cost involved for
>         participants.
>          Also, lower registration fee may attract
>         more
>          participation and we may end-up generating same
>         amount
>          as surplus and also have more new faces attending
>         the
>          event. We do not know if that happen since we have not
>         tried
>          lowering the conference prices recently.
>         Best
>         Venka
>         On
>          2/7/2017 4:49 PM, Till Adams wrote:
>         +1 - Paul hits 100% my opinion.
>         Am 06.02.2017 um 18:15 schrieb Paul Ramsey:
>         Regular reminder:
>         No doubt a $100 drop on registration would be determinative
>     for a few,
>         but it will not do much to change the equation for even a
>     backpacking
>         overseas traveller, who will pay (from Vancouver) $1000 to get
>     there
>         and $600+ in accommodation and meals, depending on how long
>     they stay
>         (doing workshops? doing code sprint?)
>         Using second-city sites (Victoria instead of Vancouver, Lausanne
>         instead of Geneva) can shave registration dollars at the
>     margins, but
>         they'll get eaten up instead in travel costs.
>         Local regional conferences (Foss4g.nl <http://Foss4g.nl>)
>     should probably aim to go low
>         and hyper-accessible, since they draw from a population that can
>         economize on all aspects of the conference experience (stay at
>     home,
>         get up at 4am and walk to the venue from Haarlem, bring a bag
>     lunch).
>         Foss4g international is... international, there's going to be a
>         minimum spend to get there and do it, no matter how few
>     coffees are
>         served, how spare the venue, or how much volunteers are used
>     and abused.
>         P.
>         On Mon, Feb 6, 2017 at 7:54 AM, Steven Feldman
>     <shfeldman at gmail.com <mailto:shfeldman at gmail.com>
>         <mailto:shfeldman at gmail.com <mailto:shfeldman at gmail.com>>> wrote:
>            Reposting this from the board list as it may interest the CC.
>            The current target in RfP is $650 including social
>     activities but
>            excluding workshops. The costs of travel and accommodation have
>            equalled or, for out of region delegates, exceed the
>     registration
>            costs.
>            To my knowledge no proposal has been received for the last
>     5 years
>            that was able to support 800+ delegates at ca $500
>            2019 will be a ‘European’ year, I am sure that the CC would
>            welcome a $500 proposal from the Netherlands community
>            ______
>            Steven
>            Date: Mon, 6 Feb 2017 09:38:47 +0000
>            From: <l.g.j.boerboom at utwente.nl
>     <mailto:l.g.j.boerboom at utwente.nl>
>     <mailto:l.g.j.boerboom at utwente.nl <mailto:l.g.j.boerboom at utwente.nl>>>
>            To: <board at lists.osgeo.org <mailto:board at lists.osgeo.org>
>     <mailto:board at lists.osgeo.org <mailto:board at lists.osgeo.org>>>
>            Subject: [Board] Open open source, reduce registration fees.
>            Message-ID:
>            <62bfc24ab8c3406490757d8c14802bbe at EXMBX32.ad.utwente.nl
>     <mailto:62bfc24ab8c3406490757d8c14802bbe at EXMBX32.ad.utwente.nl>
>      <mailto:62bfc24ab8c3406490757d8c14802bbe at EXMBX32.ad.utwente.nl
>     <mailto:62bfc24ab8c3406490757d8c14802bbe at EXMBX32.ad.utwente.nl>>>
>            Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>            Dear board,
>            Where is the cap on registration fees for FOSS4G? You have
>     closed
>            open source to me with these steep registration fees. You
>     have to
>            change this. A few years ago I could hardly convince my
>            departmental management to pay for registration. Now it is
>            impossible! Please open up the conference again. Open open
>     source!
>            Those who cannot organize a conference below $500 should not be
>            allowed to organize. Scale down. No fancy stuff. Back to the
>            basics! Back to the core!
>            With kind regards,
>            Luc Boerboom
>            Dr. Ir. Luc Boerboom
>            Assist. Prof Spatial Planning and Decision Support Systems and
>            Infrastructures
>            Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-information
>            Management
>            Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation
>            (ITC), http://www.itc.nl/
>            University of Twente, http://www.utwente.nl/
>            E: l.g.j.boerboom at utwente.nl <mailto:l.g.j.boerboom at utwente.nl>
>            <mailto:l.g.j.boerboom at utwente.nl
>     <mailto:l.g.j.boerboom at utwente.nl>><mailto:l.g.j.boerboom at utwente.nl
>     <mailto:l.g.j.boerboom at utwente.nl>
>     <mailto:l.g.j.boerboom at utwente.nl <mailto:l.g.j.boerboom at utwente.nl>>>
>            T: +31 (0)53 487 42 47
>     <tel:%2B31%20%280%2953%20487%2042%2047> or +31 (0)53 487 44 44
>     <tel:%2B31%20%280%2953%20487%2044%2044>
>            Postal address
>            PO Box 217
>            7500 AE  Enschede
>            The Netherlands
>            _______________________________________________
>            Conference_dev mailing list
>     Conference_dev at lists.osgeo.org
>     <mailto:Conference_dev at lists.osgeo.org>
>     <mailto:Conference_dev at lists.osgeo.org
>     <mailto:Conference_dev at lists.osgeo.org>>
>     https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/conference_dev
>     <https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/conference_dev>
>            <https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/conference_dev
>     <https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/conference_dev>>
>         _______________________________________________
>         Conference_dev mailing list
>     Conference_dev at lists.osgeo.org <mailto:Conference_dev at lists.osgeo.org>
>     https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/conference_dev
>     <https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/conference_dev>
>         _______________________________________________
>         Conference_dev mailing list
>     Conference_dev at lists.osgeo.org <mailto:Conference_dev at lists.osgeo.org>
>     https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/conference_dev
>     <https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/conference_dev>
>         _______________________________________________
>         Conference_dev
>          mailing list
>     Conference_dev at lists.osgeo.org <mailto:Conference_dev at lists.osgeo.org>
>     https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/conference_dev
>     <https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/conference_dev>
>     _______________________________________________
>     Conference_dev mailing list
>     Conference_dev at lists.osgeo.org <mailto:Conference_dev at lists.osgeo.org>
>     https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/conference_dev
>     <https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/conference_dev>
> _______________________________________________
> Conference_dev mailing list
> Conference_dev at lists.osgeo.org
> https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/conference_dev

Cameron Shorter
M +61 419 142 254

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/conference_dev/attachments/20170210/5aa034fe/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the Conference_dev mailing list