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

Jochen Topf jochen at remote.org
Wed Sep 15 08:03:44 PDT 2010

On Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 09:31:43AM -0400, Christopher Schmidt wrote:
> > 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.

One very nice idea I saw at a different conference was this: People with local
knowledge reserved seats in nearby restaurants. Not huge amounts, but just 10
or 15 for each restaurant. They then put the info up on a board at the
conference. Just restaurant type, name, and address. And space for people to
write in their name. This way people who don't have any other plans can
self-allocate to one of the seats. Optionally you can also have subjects or
themes for each restaurant.

The whole thing is easy to set up for the organisers and uses the knowledge of
the local attendees.

> > 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.

Maybe have several different ice-breaker events then. :-)

> > 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 :)

Aeh. No, this is due to the caterer beeing clueless. There is absolutely
no problem doing catering for 800 people in a short amount of time in
the space we had there. I have seen it done before. You just have to
set up the food in a different way. For instance by having more than
two lines. Or by having a different and well-announced place to go to
for just salad. So that some people go get salad and only go for the
other food later.

> > 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.

Thats true, on the other hand there was a lot of "What is OsGeo" introductory
stuff in the AGM that most attendees probably already knew. There is some
room for improvement. :-)

But I think you are right: This doesn't all have to be in the AGM.
How about this: In every coffee break one or two local chapters present
themselves. Can be done in the poster area. A few people are interested
in several countries, but many people probably only want to know what
their own country is doing. This gives them a little bit of information
and a few contacts to build upon. Maybe same thing for projects. Could
also be combined with the restaurant idea from above.

Jochen Topf  jochen at remote.org  http://www.remote.org/jochen/  +49-721-388298

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