[Conferences-discuss] Let's step back a bit...

David Ascher DavidA@ActiveState.com
Thu, 14 Feb 2002 10:11:12 -0800

While getting the votes on the various issues of proceedings, locations,
etc. is useful, I'm a bit worried about the way this discussion is

I may be attributing expectations which aren't true, but if people
expect that by voicing their personal opinion they will significantly
affect the details of the conference, I'm afraid they may end up

Let me put forth my (possibly unpopular) views.

  1) We need to find out what the broad consensus is regarding the 1st
order characteristics of the conference  (cost range, accomodation type,
time of year, academic/marketing biases).

  2) There needs to be a set of people willing to organize things who
are perceived by the community to represent the best interests of the
community at large.

  3) That organizing committee needs to make the best decisions they can
on behalf of the greater community, and the greater community needs to,
at the same time, contribute opinions, but then _back off_ and let the
organizing committee run the show, including making all of the important
but not-democratically-decidable choices of exact location, exact time,
exact conference format, etc.

I don't expect the membership of this mailing list to _a priori_ have
volunteered for duty in the program committee, i.e. 2) -- I expect us
all to be people who want to help define 1) at this stage.  However, I
also expect that the membership of this list is _not_ representative of
the broader python population, simply because most people have a
high-threshold for signing up to mailing lists, many people on the
periphery may have missed the announcement, etc.

Once 1) is established, hopefully the organizing committee would emerge
out of the discussion, and those people would talk to the YAS and other
conference organizers/facilitators about details, cost structure
choices, etc.

In an effort to be practical and goal-oriented, let me suggest that one
of the goals of this list is to design a web-poll, with which we can
extract broad feedback from the overall Python community.  Some of the
questions which I would think would make sense to ask include:

       Rate your top three preferences
           [ ] East Coast, US 
           [ ] West Coast, US 
           [ ] South, US
           [ ] Midwest, US
           [ ] Canada
           [ ] Europe

    Type of conference:
           1) Workshop -- more talks on internals, development issues
           2) Conference -- more talks on case studies

    Time of year
         other.  [I have no idea what times are possible]
    Preferred conference & hotel costs acceptable:

    Maximum conference & hotel costs acceptable:

    Type of accomodation acceptable:
       - dorm room
       - cheap hotel
       - nice hotel

    Do you expect your employer to pay for your conference costs: Y/N

    Are you on a low income: Y/N    

    If you had to pay for paper conference proceedings separately, how
much would you want to pay: [$  ]

etc. etc. etc.  

If there's agreement to do this, I volunteer to write the Quixote code
to gather the data, although if someone who actually does web stuff
seriously wants to do it, I'll gladly _not_ do it =).

Note that to me, the primary motivation for this poll is not primarily
to gather feedback from all the people who've gone to the IPC
conferences in the past (many have already made their opinions known). 
I'm hoping that by a broader poll, we can either find out if that
community is representative of the larger community (likely!), or if
there is a significantly different community out there which simply
hasn't been part of the IPC tradition for a variety of reasons. 
Importantly, the program committee can use the data from the poll,
confident that they _are_ representing the community when making a set
of important decisions.