[OSGeo-Discuss] FOSS4G2010: Good, Bad and the Ugly

Christopher Schmidt crschmidt at crschmidt.net
Wed Sep 15 06:31:43 PDT 2010

On Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 06:38:22PM +0900, Venkatesh Raghavan wrote:
> Hi All,
> Back to work after four weeks on the road
> with the ZOO-Team.
> Enjoyed being at FOSS4G2010. As usual there
> many good things, few bad things at least
> one ugly incident (for the ZOO-Team).
> About the good things, i will not spend too
> much time as it is obvious to all. Just to
> mention that it was wonderful to meet many
> of you folks and learn new things.
> Few bad things that I will elaborate more below;
> a) Difficulty in meet people since we were all spread
> out and there was not much info about common meeting
> points

Not really sure what you mean about this. I mean, we
were all in the conference center; the OSGeo Booth
was a reasonably easy to find meeting space, etc. On
each evening, I successfully gathered a crowd of 20+
for dinner, thanks to having a number of ways to pre-assign
spots to meet up, and so on.

> b) No "Practical Guide"

To the town? To the conference? Perhaps this existed somewhere
else; what would a practical guide contain?

> c) No ice-breaker

I think that with 800 attendees, it gets really hard to host
an ice breaker event practically. Even in Lausanne, the icebreaker
event was pretty hard to actually meet people; imagining it
with 2-3 times as many people seems impossible.

> e) Lunch at least on the first day was a sea of people and
>    great difficulty in getting to the food. Choose to grab
>    a sandwich nearby coffee shop

I think a lot of this comes down to unfortunate assumptions
about the size of the conference. The Organizing committee
can correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding was that much
of the conference was designed around the idea of 500 attendees;
food, wireless, etc. were initially targeted for that. With the
conference ending up at almost 900, some of the things that are
limited by physical resources ended up being a bit ... tighter 
than expected :)

> f) Having poster session in lunch-time and having authors
>    being present in front of their posters to answer questions.

Why is this a bad thing?

> g) Was not particularly amused by keynote speaker putting out
>    his cap and a great guy running to the stage to put coins.
>    Must think of better gimmicks to get money flowing into OSGeo.

I don't think that's a bad thing about the conference. I also think
that it tells an important story about OSGeo that most people don't
seem to be getting: we need sponsors if people want this organization
to survive in its current state. We need organizations who want
to support the organization (and the great conference it helps
make happen), we need support.

> h) AGM should be planned well in advance. The idea of canceling
>    Local Chapter Reports and Committee reports was not a good one

These two statements are unrelated.

Local Chapter and committee reports are no longer practical to do
in a situation where we have all attendees participating. Unless
you limit them to 1 minute per (most people want something more like 5),
it's 2 hours just to do local chapters, another hour for committes,
and another 2 hours for projects.

I discussed with some people the idea of having an "What's what in 
OSGeo" 'track' -- during breaks, lunches, or possibly alongside
presentations -- that would let local chapters and projects 
present. This would give groups a longer time to talk about what they
were doing, and would give people who are interested in what local
chapters are doing a 'default' place to go during these times.

Neither of these solutions is ideal, but short of turning the 
AGM into an all day event, i don't think it's practical to include
local chapter reports in the AGM.

> i) Some kind of OSGeo-Nostalgia talk with ex-board director was
>    missing

I don't really understand what you mean here.

> j) seated tables at Gala Dinner. Would have been better like a buffet
>    with people able to mingle.

Enh. I personally liked this, but I can understand either wya. I think
you'll get some each way no matter what you do.

> k) Could not see many students. 

More explanation here; did you mean that students were unable to attend?
That you couldn't tell who the students were? That you didn't feel there
was ample oppourtunity to meet up with students? Something else?

Christopher Schmidt
Web Developer

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