LOC kickoff meeting Oct 19, 2010

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FOSS4G 2011 LOC Kickoff Meeting

Venue: Peter Batty's loft, 1792 Wynkoop St, #508, Denver, CO 80202 - right above the Wynkoop Brewing Company Time: 3pm-5ish, probably migrating to the Wynkoop at some point!

Agenda items

Feel free to add to or edit these!

  • Committee Structure / Organization. Potential roles include:
    • Program content (2-3 people?) We have said that two of our focus areas (outside the usual areas) will be "open data" and "outreach to non-FOSS people", so probably need someone focused on each of those.
    • Workshops (2-3 people?)
    • Academic track
    • Sponsors
    • Marketing
    • Others??
    • We need to get people signed up for roles and decide if we need to solicit more people to join the LOC
  • Logo - how to push this forward and conclude it quickly
  • Sponsorship
    • Prospectus
    • How to get some sponsors signed up early
  • Exhibitor Prospectus
  • Conference Promotion
  • Call for Papers
  • Milestones/deadlines
  • Mechanics of how we work / communicate
    • Regular calls - how often, who?
    • Wiki
    • Mailing list


Attendees in person: Peter Batty, Steve Coast, Hurricane Coast, David Cole (part), Chris Helm, Matt Krusemark, Rafael Moreno, Deb Tankersley, Henry Rosales, James Sakamoto, Brian Timoney, Eric Wolf

Attendees via skype: Tyler Mitchell, Jeff McKenna (part). Tyler Erickson called in but we couldn't get him on the call due to technical problems.

Others who expressed interest in being involved but couldn't attend the meeting: Andrei Taraschuk, Greg Matthews, Dave Harris

Eric announced that unfortunately he was going to have to stand down as conference chair. This was a condition laid down by his PhD supervisor, due to impending deadlines for his PhD, and was beyond his control. Peter indicated that after discussion with Eric, he was willing to take the role of chair. Eric and Peter worked together closely on the original proposal to bring FOSS4G to Denver. Brian Timoney proposed a motion to the group that Peter should become the chair, and this was passed unanimously. Tyler said he would communicate this to the OSGeo board. Peter thanked Eric for all his hard work to bring FOSS4G to Denver, and expressed regret that he had to stand down, and these feelings were endorsed by all. Peter said he would welcome Eric back as co-chair or in some other role if his circumstances changed to permit this in the future.

Peter outlined that we planned to have two focus areas for this FOSS4G in addition to the traditional "core content": one was outreach to geospatial technology users who were new to open source, and the other was a focus on open data. He also said that a challenge we need to address in organizing FOSS4G is that there are conflicting views in the community on what it should be. Some see it as a great vehicle for promotion of open source and outreach to potential new users, and to that end want to see the conference grow. Others would rather see it stay small, informal and purely developer focused. We want to try to address the needs of both groups as best we can. We aim for this to be the biggest FOSS4G yet and to introduce lots of new users to the open source world, but we want to maintain very strong technical sessions too and an informal and fun atmosphere both in conference and social events.

This lead to some discussion about the importance of indicating the technical level of different sessions and a skiing metaphor came up, and it was suggested that we might consider using this in the conference and have green, blue and black diamond sessions (or something along those lines). Tyler said that the code sprint at the end of the conference was an important element for the deep technical folks.

We had some discussion about registration fees. In our proposal we catered for a range of 600 to 1000 attendees, and were able to propose a significantly lower registration fee than this year's. This is possible because GITA and Eric negotiated some great terms with the Sheraton where the conference will be held, in particular we got the meeting space for free in exchange for certain room and catering commitments. Tyler and OSGeo had some concern that if the registration fee drops too much, we might face a very large rise the following year. So we need to have some further discussion between the LOC and OSGeo to determine the right registration fee. Obviously a higher registration fee would give us additional flexibility to do more: perhaps additional social events, extra/better keynote speakers, etc.

We discussed roles in the group. GITA will manage all conference logistics, with oversight and direction from the LOC. The LOC will be entirely responsible for all conference content. We discussed the following roles within the group. Some roles people have already volunteered for, others still need to be filled.

  • Lead on "outreach to newbies" - Brian Timoney (I think we need to agree on the right term for this initiative). This will cross all program content including workshops and presentations (and possibly an introductory event that runs in parallel with the workshops)
  • Lead on "open data" - Matt Krusemark. We also had quite a bit of discussion about holding State of the Map before or after FOSS4G, and several people involved with State of the Map were at the meeting and would be natural candidates to involve in this. More on this below.
  • Program content - still need to identify 2-3 people to work on this, and one person to lead it. It was understood that all LOC members would be expected to review abstracts, but this group would take a lead on organizing sessions into tracks, soliciting content as appropriate, etc. FOSS4G uses community voting on abstracts to help select content, but the LOC has discretion to use the votes as strong guidance rather than a hard and fast decision. Tyler suggested as a rough guideline that perhaps 75% of the program would be determined by the voting and 25% at the discretion of the LOC.
  • Workshops. Jeff McKenna has offered to work on this, and Chris Helm expressed interest. We still need to finalize this group and identify someone to lead it.
  • Academic track - Rafael Moreno offered to take the lead on this. Tyler Erickson has also expressed interest in this in the past.
  • Sponsors. Peter Batty and Tyler Mitchell will take the lead on sponsors.
  • Marketing. Deb Tankersley expressed potential interest in this, but getting more involved would depend on her involvement in State of the Map
  • Social Events. David Cole was suggested in his absence! Peter also was interested in this.

Tyler mentioned the close relationship between OSGeo and OGC, and it was suggested that perhaps we should reach out to OGC to get a representative on the LOC.

There was also some discussion about the possibility of holding OpenStreetMap's State of the Map 2011 conference in Denver, back to back with FOSS4G. There is currently a proposal in to hold the international SotM in Denver, a decision on that is due today (Oct 20), the day after our kickoff meeting. Even if Denver is not selected for the international SotM, it is highly likely that a US SotM would be held adjacent to FOSS4G. The events would be distinct but we would coordinate with each other. We would expect a good number of common attendees at both events, and would expect that we could recruit some speakers and content for our open data sessions from SotM participants. We would ensure that there was some overlap in organizing committees for coordination (Hurricane, Steve, Deb, David would all probably have involvement in SotM). Sponsorship is a potentially tricky issue as we will be competing to some extent for sponsorship dollars. We agreed that there would need to be a clear separation financially, but we might consider some incentive for people to do a "sponsorship package" - that they get for example some additional free conference passes or some other other incentive if they sponsor both events.

It was mentioned that State of the Map normally has a number of scholarships to allow people from developing countries, who wouldn't otherwise be able to attend, to come to the conference. We could consider a combined program like this if the two conferences were back to back.

We agreed that for the moment we will do conference calls every two weeks. We will aim to keep these short. And of course we will continue to communicate via the mailing list and wiki.


  • Henry and James: create draft sponsor prospectus - 2 weeks, Nov 3
  • Peter and Tyler: create list of potential sponsors - 2 weeks, Nov 3
  • Peter and Steve: Get logo designed. Have several options for comment by the group - 1 week, Oct 27. Have final logo - 2 weeks, Nov 3.
  • All: review the high level milestones list and edit or comment as appropriate. Think about whether there are details that need to be added for your particular area of focus.

Mailing List

If you have not already signed up for the LOC mailing list, please do so here

Next calls

I am in Europe the week of November 1 with a schedule that would make it hard to do a call. So I would like to suggest we start our regular calls next week, we can probably keep next week's pretty short. Here's a provisional schedule of calls, let me know if anyone has a major problem with the time:

  • Tuesday 10/26 10am (mountain)
  • Tuesday 11/9 10am
  • Tuesday 11/23 10am
  • Tuesday 12/7 10am
  • Tuesday 12/21 10am


From Paul Ramsey (via email):

Cool beans Peter, looks like things are roaring along towards take-off!

I love the green/blue/black diamond idea, that's a nice simple paradigm that doesn't over categorize yet provides guidance!

Some early things to think about - trackage... the number of parallel rooms you're going to run will be conditioned by your physical space to some extent, and will in turn condition the number of talks you can accept, which will in turn be conditioning things like whether you can offer talk slots to high level sponsors, and how good/bad you'll feel as a committee about elevating/dropping certain talks (in a highly competitive environment it feels worse to put your thumb on the scale). So investigate your physical space and see what your total number of talks (tracks * time / 30 minutes) is going to be. - sponsorship... never to early to have a sponsorship prospectus (my advice, keep it simple simple simple, avoid the panoply-of-options (bag sponsor? electricity sponsor? (!) lanyard sponsor?) - discounts policy... feeds into the workshops / tutorials call, since teachers are offered a discount. can probably just copy previous years at this point - volunteers... except, the discount policy for volunteers has varied over the last few years, so need to decide if you're going to use volunteers for thing like room monitoring, door manning, etc, and what the time/benefit trade will be

Fun fun fun! P.