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Re: Fedora Board Recap 2009-01-13

On Fri, Jan 16, 2009 at 8:44 AM, Paul W. Frields <stickster gmail com> wrote:
> On Thu, Jan 15, 2009 at 06:34:59PM -0500, Jeremy Katz wrote:
>> On Thursday, January 15 2009, John Poelstra said:
>> [snip]
>> > === Observations and Possible Changes ===
>> > * Some barcamp sessions were not presented or organized very well
>> > * What if we required a slide deck prepared a week before FUDCon?
>> As soon as you start requiring prepared presentations, you start
>> diverging quite a bit from the barcamp nature and into traditional
>> "conference presentation" land...
> It might be possible to do a tracked FUDCon event, with part of the
> venue devoted to BarCamp and part devoted to formal talks.  My guess
> is we'd want to lean toward BarCamp in terms of volume.

We have been considering a hybrid barcamp structure for a local
barcamp we are planning as well in part to accommodate more attendees
who are more comfortable with coming to learn about new things but who
don't feel comfortable being expected to actively participate. Our
current thinking is to schedule maybe one or two sessions per timeslot
that are pre-arranged in the more traditional conference style to be
mixed throughout the day with barcamp sessions.

>> [snip]
>> > ** Lots of presentations which resulted in 45 total sessions
>> > ** Resulted in too many conflicts
>> While this makes it hard to get to everything you want, I think that
>> it's a huge success to get a lot of people wanting to talk about what
>> they are passionate about.  Maybe an answer is to have more barcamp
>> time as opposed to hackfest time?  Especially as there ends up being
>> plenty of random hacking that just occurs in the hallway.  Just trying
>> to sort of brainstorm out loud here.
> This comment echoes some things said in the Board meeting as well.
> Some possibilities:
> * Software-based conflict resolution would speed up the process, so we
>  could start the day sooner with a more complete schedule.

I'm not sure this would really help since the "voting" for sessions
does not really indicate which sessions you end up attending or which
sessions you most want to attend. Well, it might help speed up
scheduling, but I don't think it would help resolve the resulting
conflicts for attendees much. Honestly I thought the scheduling went
pretty well as it was.

> * We could simply add a dinner break and more hours afterward.  Push
>  any night event later in the evening or shorten it as required.
>  "Narrow" the schedule grid, assuming the locations are on the
>  horizontal axis, making it easier to get to more talks.

Having the barcamp portion of the program longer might be nice but we
should keep in mind that no matter what we do in this respect we will
be left with people not getting to all the things they would like to
get to as long as we are successful getting the sort of leadership
participation demonstrated at FUDconF11. With 50, 60, 70, 80, pitched
sessions rampant conflicts are inevitable and really this is a good
problem to have compared to the alternative.

>> > * Some sessions were the "same old people" where the information being
>> > presented was already known by a majority of the audience
>> If people were going to the talks, then it wasn't the same old.  If you
>> know it, get up and leave.  That's what the barcamp format is all about.
> Or request that the speaker talk about something else.  It's a
> participatory format, not a lecture format.  If I'm at a talk where
> I'm learning new material, I'll settle into a reception-only mode, but
> if the material is at least partially familiar, I try to participate.

And working with speakers might help here too. Let speakers know ahead
of time of the issues with encore performances so they can be better
prepared to adapt to the audience they actually end up having. Even if
you are planning an introductory session on a topic similar to ones
you have given before you should be prepared to do something a bit
more advanced if the composition of the audience warrants it.

> I happened to give a talk where the vast majority of attendees knew
> *much* more about the topic than I.  That was a win for me and for the
> few attendees who really were beginners, the audience for whom the
> talk was intended.  Interestingly, some of the experts learned from
> each other too, showing (I believe) that the open mind can always find
> value in collaboration.  I gave fair warning at the start of the
> session, so if anyone felt slighted I could cheerfully refund them
> double what they paid, no questions asked. ;-)
>> > * By the third day a lot of people seem tired and less engaged
>> This is just the nature of "deep" days like we had -- and it would have
>> been the fourth day for some people given the Day0 stuff
> Also the last day of hackfest followed FUDPub -- although by all
> accounts FUDPub was free of profligacy.  If we arranged the days
> starting with a BarCamp on Saturday (and FUDPub that night), and then
> hackfest on Sunday and Monday, both days starting slightly later, we
> might avoid that slump.  Most attendees are also scheduled to travel
> on the last day/evening, lending to a feeling that things are winding
> down gradually all day.  Short of doing a week-long event, which is
> probably financially infeasible, I'm not sure how we can combat this
> slump.

Travel and fatigue on the final day were evident to me. Travel for
many of the non-locals required leaving before things were scheduled
to wind down completely as well. One can't get 8pm flights to
everywhere unfortunately. Short of staying over an extra night, which
I would be inclined to do in the future, there probably isn't a
solution to that. The sort of restructuring suggested here might help
with the fatigue factor on the final morning though.

Keep in mind that FUDconF11 was a wonderful event for everyone who
made it to Boston and even for some who didn't. I think the
informality of the event is part of its charm and part of what makes
it such a good vehicle with which to get things done.


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