[OSGeo-Discuss] Re: Local Chapter, network and structuration

P Kishor punk.kish at gmail.com
Wed Aug 27 01:28:18 PDT 2008

On 8/27/08, Landon Blake <lblake at ksninc.com> wrote:
> Puneet wrote: "a conference becomes too big to continue being useful."
>  Do you mean "too big" as in number of people attending, "too big" as in
>  number of topics presented, or "too big" in some other sense?

To an extent, the above three senses are synonymous...

Too many people attending is a good indicator of the health of the
community, but makes interaction difficult. The number and quality of
interactions doesn't increase as the size of the gathering increases
-- in fact, one tends to mix/stay with the people one knows if the
gathering becomes too big, the large size almost acting as a deterrent
for "accidental" or even "purposeful" making of new connections.
Nevertheless, it is hard to complain about this sense without sounding

Too many topics being presented is a major problem because one is torn
between the sessions as they are juggled and scheduled in a fixed
number days leading to many interesting sessions being held
concurrently. I have often thought that the best conference would be
one in which I could attend all the sessions without missing any, if I
so wanted to... which really means no concurrent sessions at all. When
sessions are arranged in distinct tracks, this problem alleviates to
some degree, but the tracks have to be sufficiently disparate and
different -- for example, OSCON has separate Perl, Python, Ruby, PHP
tracks... since I am a Perl guy, I can happily chose to miss the other
tracks. However, if there is a parallel JavaScript or Apache track as
well, then I am screwed, because as a web developer JS/Apache are
central to my development needs. Making such distinct tracks becomes
difficult in a FOSS4G/MUM type conference... I am interested in mostly
everything, so missing out on good sessions is not good.

To some extent, too many topics being presented is a function of too
many people presenting is a function of too many people attending. To
attract too many people, the conference has to have too many
presentations, has to program too big and exotic social gatherings,
has to rent too big a conference space, has to advertise too much to
reach too many people in the first place, has to raise the price of
registration too high to recoup the money... all this is
inter-related. The "next" organizer seeks to outdo the previous one,
and the cycle continues even stronger. I guess somewhere in this is
the "cost of marketing the conference directly" that started some of
this conversation in the first place.

>From the first MUM1 (still my favorite gathering of all... we were all
new to each other, and meeting for the first time, we were putting
faces to names... it was like a family separated at birth meeting for
the first time... sniff... I am getting sentimental) which was small
and unassuming and cost about $100 or so in registration, and I
believe about $45 or so for rooms at the local Days Inn (I believe
there were also some dorm rooms available) to the next month's
conference in Cape Town that has a registration fee > $500, it has
been a high jump.

Focused on consciously keeping the conference cheap, small, and
friendly seems contrarian to the notion of success in a Darwinian
evolutionary sense, but whatever will be will be. Conferences will
grow, and some of its audience will get turned off and turn to other
venues and avenues... and so, it shall come to pass.

>  Landon
>  -----Original Message-----
>  From: discuss-bounces at lists.osgeo.org
> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.osgeo.org] On Behalf Of P Kishor
>  Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 3:56 PM
>  To: OSGeo Discussions
> Subject: Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Re: Local Chapter, network and
>  structuration
> On 8/27/08, Dave Patton <davep at confluence.org> wrote:
>  > On 2008/08/26 3:08 PM, James Fee wrote:
>  >
>  > > I overheard someone say at GeoWeb 2008 that they could care less
>  about
>  > > FOSS4G outside of North America and they have no interest in what
>  will
>  > > probably be the next couple FOSS4Gs around the world.
>  > >
>  >
>  >  Hearing things like that, and the reactions about it being
>  >  'impossible' for USA state and local government employees, etc.,
>  >  make me wonder if there is any value in having the organizing
>  >  committees of 'foreign' OSGeo events doing any marketing
>  >  directly to such people.
>  I wonder what is the cost of marketing directly to me?
>  I wonder what is marketing directly to me?
>  I don't remember seeing an what seemed like a paid ad for any
>  MUM/FOSS4G conference in a paper magazine or also on a web site?
>  Just curious.
>  By the way, I am not a State/Local/Fed employee, yet, I too have
>  little interest in these overseas, high-cost conferences, at least as
>  long as I have no funding support for them. I do suspect that at some
>  point, at least for me personally, a conference becomes too big to
>  continue being useful.
>  >
>  >  The "glass half empty" view would be that such marketing
>  >  is 'a waste of time and money', because such people either
>  >  aren't personally interested, or their workplace has policies
>  >  that won't allow them to attend.
>  >
>  >  The "glass half full" view is that by directly marketing
>  >  to such people (who might want to self-identify, to make
>  >  sure they are on the relevant 'marketing lists') they get
>  >  the opportunity to have discussions with their supervisor(s),
>  >  and that if, over time, enough people raise the issue enough
>  >  times, along with examples of how other jurisdictions get
>  >  value from sending their staff to 'foreign events', maybe
>  >  things will change.
>  >
>  >  --
>  >  Dave Patton
>  >  CIS Canadian Information Systems
>  >  Victoria, B.C.
>  >
>  >  Degree Confluence Project:
>  >  Canadian Coordinator
>  >  Technical Coordinator
>  >  http://www.confluence.org/
>  >
>  >  OSGeo FOSS4G2007 conference:
>  >  Workshop Committee Chair
>  >  Conference Committee member
>  >  http://www.foss4g2007.org/
>  >
>  >  Personal website:
>  >  Maps, GPS, etc.
>  >  http://members.shaw.ca/davepatton/
>  >  _______________________________________________
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>  >
>  --
>  Puneet Kishor http://punkish.eidesis.org/
>  Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies http://www.nelson.wisc.edu/
>  Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) http://www.osgeo.org/
>  _______________________________________________
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Puneet Kishor http://punkish.eidesis.org/
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies http://www.nelson.wisc.edu/
Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) http://www.osgeo.org/

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