FOSS4G 2012 Lessons Learned
The international FOSS4G 2012 conference, which was scheduled to be held in Beijing in Sept 2012, was cancelled. This has been a disappointing setback for our OSGeo community, and here I proposed to capture some of the key events which lead up to this cancellation, and with our hind site perspective, identify areas we can change to make future conferences more resilient and successful.
The intent is to start this conversation on the OSGeo Conference email list, then move to the FOSS4G 2012 Lessons Learned wiki page as ideas start to consolidate. Eventually, ideas from multiple Lesson's Learned will form the basis of the developing FOSS4G Cookbook.
I'd like to start out by laying out some discussion ground rules. In particular, please avoid letting this discussion break into a witch hunt, or blame game. Remember that almost all people involved in FOSS4G 2012 were volunteers, giving of their precious time freely. Instead, please identify an event or decision, discuss the implications of the event, and ideally follow up with some recommendations on what we can do in future.
With that said, here is a start to the conversation. Please add extra background you may be aware of, or contribute extra ideas.
- 1 Host City Selection
- 2 Local Organising Committee experience
- 3 Lack of Professional Conference Organisor
- 4 Passing away of FOSS4G Chair
- 5 No mentor
- 6 Competing regional conferences
- 7 Language barrier
- 8 Minimal "buzz"
- 9 Schedule slip
- 10 Resignation of Academic Chair
- 11 Relationship between board and LOC
Host City Selection
Local Organising Committee experience
Lack of Professional Conference Organisor
I understand that the LOC didn't have a PCO. Apparently the FOSS4G PCO resigned or similar? Can someone please provide more details. How did this happen?
We currently don't have a good process for transferring the valuable knowledge collected from one Local Organising Committee onto the next. As a consequence we find there is a high learning curve for each LOC and their Professional Conference Organisor (PCO), and risk of making the same mistakes again and again. Suggestions to address this include:
- Developing a FOSS4G Cookbook to pass from one LOC to another.
- Hiring a perpetual, International PCO, as discussed in this email thread.
Passing away of FOSS4G Chair
Competing regional conferences
In 2011, major regional conferences started in both Europe and North America, which competed for international FOSS4G attendance. It was debated whether OSGeo should support and encourage these new regional conferences, knowing that they would have an impact on attendance at Beijing.
As explain by in a post by Arnulf, Chair of OSGeo Board:
- From all that I can tell, now FOSS4G Beijing will become a local conference with support from "OSGeo international". This and no more. It will not be the Global or World conference that FOSS4G was before because we will have a FOSS4G CEE and FOSS4G North America event (plus the regular local ones) in the same year. There is no chance at all that Beijing can attract the same vibrant global participation that we had at the last global FOSS4G conferences.
- The question is not whether we will have a FOSS4G in Beijing or CEE or North America. From all that I can tell we will have them all. There is no reason (and probably no way) to stop the North American or CEE initiative or both. Instead it is great to see so much interest and momentum - and we would be stupid to stifle it.