[Linux-aus] LCA2014 update

James Polley jamezpolley at gmail.com
Tue Aug 28 22:56:31 EST 2012

*removes all hats except the one that looks like it may have spent time
under a bridge in an earlier phase of life*

On Tue, Aug 28, 2012 at 10:32 PM, Paul Wayper <paulway at mabula.net> wrote:

> Hash: SHA1
> On 28/08/12 19:16, Kathy Reid wrote:
> [snip]
> >
> > Donna hit the nail on the head when she mentioned toxic community
> > members. There were times during LCA2012 when I seriously questioned why
> > I was giving up months of my life for a community which whinged and
> > moaned about something as trivial as whether a t-shirt came in their
> > size. Do I really, really, really want to give up half my life for 18
> > months (6-12 months if we ruthlessly outsource) for a community which
> > has people that do this?
> >
> > On the flipside, there are so many *fantastic* members of this community
> > that balance this out that it's still overall very positive.
> I think this is the fundamental problem for LCA, and why it is difficult
> to run.
> Caveat: I'm speaking with a bit of experience from being in the LCA 2013
> team,
> but I'm not speaking in any official capacity.  These are my own opinions.
> We now, in the LCA 2013 team, are spending huge amounts of time trying to
> find
> things that will be both inoffensive and appealing, for a whole range of
> the
> things we do for the attendees at LCA.  I won't go into details - it'd
> spoil
> the fun :-) - but there are heaps of things that we worry about because
> someone, often months or years ago, complained about that thing publicly.
> Even stuff like the conference network - someone, somewhere, will complain
> that they weren't getting 54mbit when they were using their laptop in the
> toilets (to make up a not too far-fetched possibility), and everything the
> team has done to provide wonderful, easy to use networking everywhere else
> will be overlooked because of that one gripe.
> No matter how well publicised any change to LCA is, no matter how many
> people
> here or anywhere agree that it's absolutely necessary to do something
> different at LCA in order for it to survive, there will be someone
> somewhere
> who decides that that's their own Custerian Last Stand and will vocally
> criticise the team because cutting that back is a personal affront to their
> very dignity.  We've seen this with many things that are, in relation to
> getting five days of awesome technical content from some of the brightest
> people in Australia and the world, trivial.  I fear to think what would
> happen
> if a fundamental change was made to LCA.
> Now, it seems to me that the only reason to try to make radical changes to
> the
> way LCA runs is if the whole bid process is irrevocably FUBARed.  That, to
> me,
> does not seem to be the case.

I'm not sure how much more FU we can get than *not having anyone at all
willing to make a bid*. Not having a conference certainly seems BAR from
having a conference.

> So while I think there's lots of good ideas in this whole discussion about
> ways that LCA could be different, I think - personally - that some of the
> voices that have been most critical of changing LCA in the past are now the
> ones proposing radical changes that don't inconvenience them at all or
> detriment their experience at LCA.

To quote Paul Hansen, "the best way to say you do not agree with the way a
previous conference
was done is to step up and organise a bunch of people to run the next
one.". If the people who weren't happy with previous conferences are now
stepping up to run a conference their way - Fantastic! That leaves us a
hell of a lot better off than if no-one is willing to run the conference.

There are plenty of models for ways to run LCA that could be easier and
> cheaper.  Lots of them can be done by the actual team running LCA - I'm
> sure
> Linux Australia would look with interest at bids that proposed to make LCA
> a
> simpler conference to run.  There are also things that Linux Australia can
> do,
> especially when it comes to reducing the amount of learning each new team
> has
> to do of the mundanities of running a conference.  LA, and the LCA teams,
> already do a lot of things that make the next team's life hugely easier.
> These are not to be overlooked.

Agreed. We've already had a few ideas from this thread, and that's a topic
I'd like to see picked up and run with.

> And LCA has a reputation to maintain,

Which is hard to do if it doesn't run.

> a history of doing certain things.

such as *actually happening*.

> No-one would say that turning off the conference wifi would be a bold step
> forward in making the conference simpler.  Change happens, but with
> something
> as complex, interconnected and multi-faceted as LCA it happens slowly.

I call shenanigans.

LCA is designed anew each and ever year. Every single conference team
starts from an empty slate. If this years conference looks a bit like last
year's, that's only because this year's team chose to incorporate
successful elements from last year's conference.

Open Days have come and gone at the whim of the teams hosting various
conference. Miniconfs seem like a fixture lately, but the format, the
timing, and the number of streams has varied from year to year according to
the priorities of the individual teams. Some years we have a Rusty Wrench
award, some years we don't. 08 made *radical* changes to the Penguin Dinner
- which the 09 team (and all subsequent teams, so far) chose not to repeat.

No change has ever been so drastic as not running the conference though.
Compared to that, dropping the wifi (or miniconfs, or dinner, or PDNS) is a
mere detail.

> Ultimately - and this is a lesson I'm learning the hard way - life is not a
> git repository and one does not have admin rights.  One does not
> automatically
> get the right as an attendee to tell conference organisers what they
> should or
> should not do.  Attendees make the conference what it is not only by being
> the
> awesome people they are but also by what they say and do and blog about.
>  It's
> too easy to be negative and to say "they should totally have done it some
> other way" when one is not responsible for actually doing it.  Keeping a
> positive attitude, contributing where you can, and forbearing negative
> comment, is what makes an LCA really epic.

> Have fun,
> Paul
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