FOSS4G Reboot 2011

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Committee Thoughts

The OSGeo Conference Committee is considering modifying the annual FOSS4G event process. Here are some observations:

Observations by Paul Ramsey

  • The international FOSS4G conference continues to be popular and useful as a global meeting of the tribes, bringing together people from multiple continents who might otherwise never meet.
  • The demand for FOSS4G-like events is high, and the ability of all people interested in the topic to travel to the international conference is constrained.
  • Successful regional conferences can drain attendance from FOSS4G. For example, compare the population and open source interest in Germany with their FOSS4G attendance. Germany has a successful annual FOSSGIS.
  • Even with a strict regional allocation policy of North America-Europe-Other, each region would only be seeing a conference every three years, which is a very long time in technology.
  • The current bid system is competitive and heavy-weight because of high regional demand for the conference. Everyone preparing a bid wants to win, so everyone errs on the side of doing the most comprehensive and complete response possible. With lots of bids, that means lots of wasted effort.
  • For 2011, something needs to change.

Observations by Frank Warmerdam

  • worried about the onerous amount of preparation we ask of bidders; much of which is reviewed then discarded
  • I'm leery of the two track approach because to me it means I'll only see the "whole community" once every two years. But it does have some good aspects.
  • I would also like some contemplation of whether FOSS4G may be tooexpensive, and commercial in approach and whether we could aim for more modest venues and a more community feel (as I understand is the case with FOSSGIS).

Observations by Jeff McKenna

  • I support the Two Track Strategy, as we clearly need to increase the amount of OSGeo-supported events through the year
    • I also support the idea of trying to have a regional event in North America, Europe, and Asia in each regional year
  • What amount of seed funding should the OSGeo Conference Committee request from the board for a budget for these regional and international events?
    • I personally feel that seed funding should be available for one member of the OSGeo Conference Committee to attend each international and regional event, to "facilitate continuity"
  • Adding an "Expression of Interest" process and selecting 2 groups for a full proposal must be implemented

Community Thoughts

Observations by Peter Batty

  • There certainly seems to be consensus around having a lightweight "statement of intent" for the global conference, and I support that too
  • I think that OSGeo should consider having a more explicit strategy in terms of location of the global conference - for example, is it a 3 year rotation between Europe, North America, and Rest of the World? We could choose to just leave it up to the selection committee as is done now, but I think it at least merits some discussion - the current decision process is not at all transparent.
  • we should have a global conference each year which is more of a deep techie conference, and also have various regional conferences which are more focused on outreach, i.e. selling OSGeo to the unconverted.

Options for 2011

A. Modified Status Quo

  • Continue to run an annual international conference.
  • Revise the bid process to lower the initial overhead.
    • Add an "expression of interest" phase, where locations provide a snapshot of the bid committee, chosen venue/city, and local community only, from which one or two groups are selected to provide a full proposal.
  • Encourage local chapters to hold one "event" per year as part of their "chapterness".

B. Two Track Strategy

  • Expand the FOSS4G brand into two events "FOSS4G International" and "FOSS4G _____ Region" and hold the events in alternating years.
  • FOSS4G 2010 would become "FOSS4G International" and the 2011 year would be the first regional year.
  • Use an "expression of interest" bid process for regional events, trying to corral multiple bids into joint efforts.
  • Provide up to $5000 seed money for each regional event, in return for budgeting that favors break-even/slight profit to return investment-plus to OSGeo.
  • Try to ensure each regional round includes a North America, Europe, and Asia event, and hope to also have South America, Africa, India, or China events.

C. Both Annual and Regional Events in Same Year

  • Same as Option A, but OSGeo would also support regional conferences in the same year as the annual conference

D. No changes to the Existing Process

  • Everything is perfect, no changes are necessary.