[OSGeo-Discuss] some post-FOSS4G thoughts

Gavin Fleming GavinF at mintek.co.za
Tue Oct 7 07:42:47 PDT 2008

This thread has been doing the rounds on the conference_dev list as well

Some of my thoughts in the aftermath of FOSS4G 2008.

I have heard very positive feedback from all quarters. As Arnulf alluded
to in the AGM, I believe the decision to host in an 'untested' location
WORKED. The mix of FOSS and proprietary worlds WORKED. The mix of the
full-spectrum ecosystem from geek to user to academic to businessperson
to government official WORKED.

It WORKED on so many levels we'll be seeing positive spin-offs for years
to come. 

Business people loved meeting developers and picking up the sense of

Developers loved being with other developers and interacting with users
and funders.  And we did manage a code sprint of around 40 people.

-Registration was well within the limits set by OSGeo of $600. It was
NOT the deciding factor for most people. Academics and students got 50%
discount, but these were a minority. 
-Travel was THE deciding factor.
-Accommodation: yes, 'official' hotels where our agents got block
bookings were not exactly budget prices (global tourist destination in
high season) but we advertised and listed many links for organising
one's own cheap accommodation from backpackers to B&Bs. So that should
not have been a factor.
-with more sponsorship we would have loved to support those who could
not afford it. Luckily many who asked made a plan of their own.

By its nature, a moving conference will be expensive to get to from many
places. But it will be cheap and accessible to regional attendees and
that's the point. That's part of OSGeo's mission. 

The value of bringing FOSS4G to South Africa (or Sydney or other future
global venues) far outweighs the 'cost' to a few who could not make it.
Sydney will be in the same boat next year - far from almost everywhere.
But they're already focussing on Australia/NZ and Southeast Asia. And a
core contingent of OSGeo techies WILL make it to FOSS4G each year. And
there you have the magic mix.

So, from me:
-keep FOSS4G roaming the globe annually
-stimulate and support local or regional events whenever and wherever
they emerge
-keep the FOSS4G mix as it is - don't split along a perceived
technical-business divide. 
-put out RFPs even earlier to allow time to secure cheap venues, big
sponsorships, optimal scheduling, etc. A case in point is
http://www.igarss09.org/ where the conference was awarded years back
enabling the hosting of thousands at a cheap venue (university).  

Gavin Fleming 

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