[Linux-aus] About a User Conference - grand plans

Michael Still mikal at stillhq.com
Wed Feb 23 13:35:04 UTC 2005

Leon Brooks wrote:

> I am thinking that a user conference should operate as a kind of 
> combined recruitment drive and set of boot-camp seminars. It should aim 
> to attract and to some extent add credence to two major groups of 
> users, what you might call user-users and admin-users.

Kinda. I'm wary of Admin users --  there are several conferences which 
are clearly aimed at this demographic now (SAGE-AU and AUUG) spring to 
mind instantly, and I think there is little value in further splintering 
the market place.

If people decide that demographic isn't being well served, then that can 
always be addressed separately later.

> IOW, it should be a FOSS conference rather than overtly Linux-specific, 
> and pitched both at people who want to use The GIMP better, and at 
> people who are (considering) adminning Linux (or *BSD) workstations and 
> servers - with just enough glue for the part-time admins (call them 
> "power users") to keep them happy too. It should not have sessions on 
> dprobes or porting device drivers to the Power platform. If Linus 
> appears there, it would be a cameo on the first or last day as he was 
> on his way to/from LCA.

I agree, although getting enough content for more than one OS into a 
limited amount of time is going to be a problem. Like anything, it is 
also at the mercy of the papers that are submitted.

> So, for example, you might have five streams: call them user1, user2, 
> power, admin, meta.

Argh! The logisitics of organizing that many streams scare me.

> User1 and user2 are for the GIMP jockeys and learning how to use 
> Konqueror for fun and profit.
> Power is "How to boot Ubuntu and then install it on your system" or "My 
> LAN has fallen and it can't get up - but I have this live CD..."
> Admin is "Integrating Linux workstations into an Active Directory 
> evironment" and "Migrating from IIS to Apache".
> Meta is "Overcoming legal barriers to opening your source", "Minimising 
> patent exposure with Open Source Software" and "Finding the balance: 
> practical economic analysis of Open Source deployment within your 
> organisation".

Surely it's better to start off small and let the event grow into what 
there is a demand for over time. The cost of running something like LCA 
(which is only three streams and 500 ish people) is in the order of 
several tens of thousands of dollars, much of which is spent in advance 
for things like merchandise, and venue costs. You can minimise risk by 
starting small and growing over a couple of years.

> The grand vision is to both grow the FOSS (and by implication Linux) 
> "market" and also to introduce more technical people to it in a 
> practical sense. Growing the userbase is all well and good, but if 
> they're starved for support several bad things will happen:
>   * Users will be left helpless, and FOSS will get a bad name;
>   * Sharks will move in to take advantage of the above, and
>     FOSS will get a bad name;
>   * Money will continue to go to paper tigers and get shipped
>     overseas to people who aren't exactly cash-starved rather
>     than going back into the pockets of working Australians.
> By staging conferences like this, we will familiarise people with FOSS 
> and specifically Linux, and show them that something other than their 
> friendly neighbourhood geek is happening in the area.

A national user conference should be a showcase for what a LUG can be... 
Kinda like a national LUG meeting. In this way, people recieve the 
ongoing support from their local community that they are going to need 
to actually implement changes, without having to wait for next years 
conference to find out what the next step is.

> With this in mind, it would make sense to have such conferences in every 
> capital city and perhaps a handful of regional centres as well, but to 
> put it simply, we don't yet have enough people to pull that off.

I disagree here, for logistical reasons. LCA has taken 10 people a year 
to organize. A lot of that work would need to be repeated for every 
capital city. That's a lot of work to ask people to do every year.

> So... what _I_ think we should do is send up a trial balloon later this 
> year, maybe in August or September, in one of the capital cities, and 
> if that works out we should have *two* running more or less back to 
> back in widely separated cities for 2006. Maybe do that again in 2007, 
> or maybe split out to *three* cities, and maybe make one of them Kiwi, 
> and so on, expanding gradually until we have one in every capital city 
> each year.

I like your timing (see my post from about 5 minutes ago).

> Back to back means you can retread your speakers, which you can't do 
> with parallel conferences. And I reckon the cities to do this in are:
>     2005: Sydney
>     2006: Melbourne and Perth
>     2007: Adelaide, Brisbane and Auckland
>     2008: Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Wellington
>     2009: Canberra, Brisbane, Hobart, Auckland, Newcastle
> ...and so on.
> And since nobody picked up on renaming LCA to CLANZ, I propose naming it 
> FANZS - FOSS Aus & NuZulund Symposium. Symposium makes particular sense 
> if you read the definition:
>     http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=symposium
>  1. A meeting or conference for discussion of a topic, especially
>     one in which the participants form an audience and make
>     presentations.
>  2. A collection of writings on a particular topic, as in a magazine.
>  3. A convivial meeting for drinking, music, and intellectual
>     discussion among the ancient Greeks.
> Since Novell is into expanding their dealer and user base in a big way, 
> it makes sense to me to approach them about being the el primo sponsor, 
> at least for the first few.
> We could probably encourage definition 3 by deliberately scheduling the 
> last presentation in at least a couple of the streams each day to be 
> slightly lighter-hearted topics like "Using Open Source in Jam 
> Sessions" and "Configuring your LinkSys Router to run a MicroBrewery". 
> Conrad will be in it. (-:
> Any other takers?

See earlier email.



Michael Still (mikal at stillhq.com) | "The geek shall inherit
http://www.stillhq.com            |  the earth"
UTC + 11                          |    -- The Simpsons

Linux.conf.au 2005 -- Quite like an excellent Linux and Open Source
conference. http://lca2005.linux.org.au

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