[Linux-aus] A greybeard pontificates on User Conference(s)

Michael Still mikal at stillhq.com
Thu Feb 24 03:50:08 UTC 2005

On Wed, 23 Feb 2005, Leon Brooks wrote:


> One of the very valid points raised was that LA should represent people
> who "don't drive the market", specifically children, seniors and other
> niches.
> A user conference could be developed into a great way of doing that.
> Having (one of) the user stream(s) focus on just children (mostly, but
> not entirely education and games) for a day, and then (or in parallel)
> on addressing the special computing needs of seniors (speaking for
> myself as a doddering 42yo, a 23-inch 0.15-pitch LCD screen would be a
> good place to start :-), maybe another stream-day on general
> disabilities ("how my web page can avoid sucking when viewed by someone
> with a sight impairment", "how my GUI can be configured to assist
> someone with the use of only one hand" and so on), yadda yadda... well,
> if we're going to be condemned as socialists, we may as well be hung
> for a sheep as for a lamb, no?

I agree with this -- the disconnect between what we're each saying is
becuase you're talking about an established user conference with a known
base of attendees, whereas I am proposing ways of boot strapping a user
conference from scratch. They are very differnt streams.

If there is enough content and attendees to fill 100 streams, that's fine
by me, but it is totally unrealistic to expect to have that much content
in the first two or three years of such an event.

> The next interesting point is "LA is constructive and positive".
> Having a user conference more than doubles the number of people who get
> to see that happening.

Perhaps. You fail to take into account the inevitable overlap of people
attending both, even though they're not intended to. Also, starting with
an event for 600 is enviable, but not realistic.

> Another point, partly addressed by OSIA now, but nevertheless: enabling
> and supporting small businesses. A conference such as we run represents
> cheap training, cheap networking, motivation and all sorts of other
> good stuff that government provides only haltingly at best.

LCA yes, I am not sure that holds for a user conference.

> Another: "Benefactor, not parent". Encouraging a plurality of
> conferences helps the LUGs to stand alone, and demonstrates to other
> organisations that there is room in the Linux space to play.
> It will actively engage more people. This is perhaps one of the hardest
> social ends to achieve, but with a Project (note capital P) afoot,
> people tend to be more inclined to pitch in, and this synergises with
> other LUG and LA activity too... which leads me to the core whiteboard
> point:
> "We have other programs that rotate around" - kind of redundant wording
> there, but even though I'm not Committee any more, I'd still like to
> bring that one to fruition. I can't clearly remember precisely what the
> proponent was aiming for, or even who proposed it, but the general aim
> of productive, shared activity is obvious.
> "Road shows - demonstrations of (edu) software" - well, a user
> conference is half way to a roadshow.

Only if it travels, and I suspect if it travels at the moment, the only
practical way to do that is like LCA, which isn't a roadshow.

> BTW, I'd dearly love some government department to decide that it wanted
> a FOSS roadshow and hand me a bus, a flock of PCs and a fuel budget to
> actualise that with.

Put a grant proposal into LA!

> After that, the whiteboards address less tangible issues, among them a
> decire that LA be facilitators, be scaleable, be involved in
> development, remain informal, foster respect, and rounded off in red:
> "pragmatic and practical". I can't speak to pragmatic, but a user conf
> sure looks practical from here. We as a community have run one lots of
> times now, so doing a variant shouldn't be impossible.
> It can also be a pump-primer for LCA - but OTOH, LCA is pretty much
> full. A conundrum. What shall we do about that? Do we have enough
> international speakers to supply two or more LCAs? Can we push some of
> the less technical but still technical stuff out to (a) user conf(s)?

I suspect that's what prompted the current discussion about user
conferences -- the people who belong at one, but don't have one to go to
end up at LCA.


Michael Still (mikal at stillhq.com) | "All my life I've had one dream,
http://www.stillhq.com            |  to achieve my many goals"
UTC + 11                          |    -- Homer Simpson

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