[Linux-aus] LCA bids -- wonderful presentation, but to what purpose?

Andrew McMillan andrew at mcmillan.net.nz
Tue Sep 9 21:13:17 EST 2008

On Tue, 2008-09-09 at 15:37 +1000, Wayper, Paul wrote:
> I can understand Glen Turner's concern that the whole 'bidding' process
> might turn into a huge expense with little reward for those teams that
> don't win.  No-one wants the process to turn into a kind of potlatch,
> where bidding costs far more (in time, money, effort, or whatever) than
> actually running LCA.

Yeah, I can understand that as well, but the more debate I see on this
the more misguided I think it is.  Sure, this year's bid documents have
more photos and more polish than last years (no Polish though, Jeff :-)
but whenever I've been confronted with it I've found that polish without
content actually looks worse than content without polish.  A lot worse.

I mean, sure, if you glance casually at a document that is all polish
and no substance you might be impressed.  Briefly.  The longer you look
at it the angrier you're likely to get and the more ripped off you're
going to feel.  Nobody on the LA Committee in Charge of Making
Humungously Important Decisions(TM) is really going to just glance at
these documents.

The fact is that people are starting to notice LCA.  People who have
nothing to do with Linux, but who have something to do with promoting
regional tourism operation and stuff.  What they notice is that LCA is
800 reasonably well-paid geeks (some with families) spending time in
their city going to a conference, at a particularly holiday-inducing
time of year, and they multiply up numbers and work out that that
probably results in a positive regional economic impact of (perhaps) 1
to 2 million dollars.  I don't know the math, I just know it exists, and
I'm probably underestimating.

At that point it passes a threshold where it is worth 'enabling' the
bid, and they start to help.  Sure it's true that one way that they help
is by providing access to stock photos and stock propaganda, but it is
by no means limited to that.  At this point these people really *are* on
our side helping us.  They want this to happen.  Their payoff is not
winning the bid.  Their biggest payoff comes after we run a successful
conference that people go home and talk about.

> But AFAICS the reward for not winning is that you have a bid document
> that is lined up that needs a little updating but is basically ready to
> enter for next year.

Don't bet on it.  The conference will not necessarily go to the bid
which has stood in line for the longest...

> And while bids can be assisted by tourism development companies, this
> doesn't change the fact that the team preparing them are volunteers.
> All the evidence from the list seems to be that preparing a decent,
> attractive proposal assists the team to make a good LCA, rather than
> hinders it.

Right.  These people aren't just around to help with the bid document -
they know a *lot* about holding a local conference and knowing were to
find a bit of polish is just one of their skills. They can be called
upon for all sorts of knowledge and experience for actually *running*
the conference as well, up to and including helping to solve problems
while they happen at the conference itself.

What they won't interfere with are the things that make LCA what it is.
They aren't going to try and run the call for papers.  In spite of all
this, they shouldn't even increase the cost of running the conference
since their funding is coming from the downstream economic side-effects
of all of the previous successful conferences.

Disclaimer: As you can probably guess, I am part of the team who put
together one of the bids.  I think it's very pretty, but I also think it
has quite a lot of worthwhile content in it.  We are continuing to work
on the document in the hope that it will be useful for us when[1] we go
after sponsors.

To go further, in the interests of complete honesty:

Yes: we want to hold LCA in Wellington in 2010.
Yes: we're doing our damnedest to win this.
Yes: we are a cohesive, thorough team who can and will deliver
     a great conference, in Wellington, in 2010.[1]
Yes: there are non-geeks supporting our team in the bid
     who know stuff about running conferences.
Yes: we used pretty pictures which we did not take.
Yes: we are clearly insane to want that much work, but we
     see it as our way to repay the community.  Or something.

I guess I should also say that I am not leading the Wellington bid, and
that all of this is my own opinion, etc.

Thank you,

[1] If we are given the opportunity :-)

PS.  Thanks Donna (and everyone) for a great conference this year, and
to all of those people who came before that too.  I'm sure it's been
said already, but it's worth repeating :-)

Andrew @ McMillan .Net .NZ                         Porirua, New Zealand
http://andrew.mcmillan.net.nz/                    Phone: +64(272)DEBIAN
   You will be reincarnated as a toad; and you will be much happier.

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