[openbeos] Re: Waltercon 07

  • From: "Jorge G. Mare (a.k.a. Koki)" <koki@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: openbeos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 02 May 2007 09:37:26 -0700

Hi Simon,

Simon Taylor wrote:
Who talked about a professional, business-style conference?

I chose the wrong paragraph to quote in my email. You mentioned to determine 
content you need to agree on goals, I was making the point that to agree on 
goals one must have a target audience in mind, and suggested  the professional 
developer with no Haiku knowledge was not a sensible target audience. Apologies 
if my presentation implied that was your suggestion, that wasn't intentional.

Now I will not attempt to reply to all your points individually as I don't want 
my core argument to be lost. Hopefully I'll deal with some of them below though.

What type of people is Haiku looking for now? I'd say some more developers may be useful (we've 
just had an influx of GSoCers so too many more would make it hard for Axel to police the 
coding-guideline-conformity of every new check-in!) Also we can build awareness in the group 
that is open to trying new OSes as users, people in the Linux community for example, who may be 
interested in taking a look at Haiku when it is released. It is important for the developers to 
move along the awareness->understanding pathway you mentioned, but for the casual interested 
users I would settle for awareness->"maintained interest" for now. For them 
interest can be maintained simply by having an active website and community. Certainly I 
wouldn't expect those people to pay large sums of money to attend a Haiku conference, 
regardless of content - it's not as though there's any really cool Haiku end-user apps in 
development that they might like to see demoed.

So then we move to the potential Haiku developers. If these people are to be 
successful contributors to the project, they will be required to work things 
out for themselves and work independently and remotely from other contributors. 
If they are unable to work out what to do given good web resources (more on 
that below) they are unlikely to be good long term contributors to the project.

If I attended an event like SCaLE, saw Haiku demoed and picked up a flyer, what would I 
do? My first step would be to look at the website for more information. I might then go 
into the IRC channel to meet people and chat about the project, and get my questions 
answered "live". Only then would I consider going to a conference on the OS. 
Although it's true that some people prefer presentations as a way of picking up 
information - paying $100s and spending a weekend to see a presentation on the BeAPI is a 
much bigger barrier to entry than just reading the BeBook online.

In order to allow as many potential developers as possible to gain the 
understanding required to take the plunge it would be good to have information 
available in different forms. But why limit the presentation audience to those 
who can afford the time and money to attend WC? Why not use the web? If 
developers (or even non-haiku devs who know the BeAPI - I might even be 
persuaded to get the ball rolling) could produce and record video presentations 
we could host them on the website and hugely increase the reach of the 
information - especially among the target very-web-savvy audience. If new 
presentations were made on a semi-regular basis it would keep people coming 
back to the website, both making the project look active and providing a new 
introductory path in Haiku development for people. Note this is different from 
simply providing a video of a live talk - the videos are actually intended for 
a web audience, can be edited so the slides are digital rather than recorded 
  a projector, could contain associated sample code downloads, could be part of 
an ongoing series rather than a one-off event, and don't make web users feel as 
though they missed out from not attending the latest WC.

Bringing it back to WC - I think it's still good to have an event to meet up 
with other people, but no-one outside the regulars are likely to spend the time 
and effort to attend. If people are willing to create presentation-style 
content, Haiku's limited time and resources would be far better spent creating 
the content for a web audience - making it available to a greatly larger 
audience, at a time that suits them.

Koki, if you still believe WC as an event holds real unique power to attract 
new people outside the regulars - then what group of people do you think they 
are, and what content is there that would attract them that wouldn't be better 
available to everyone on the web?

I think you take my emails and either read between the lines or make certain assumptions beyond the intended meaning of my words.

The web is a great means and needs to be exploited; I never said anything to the contrary. But you cannot compare good quality face to face time with browsing using the web in terms of educational value, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Besides, doing WC one way or another does (should) not preclude you from doing stuff on the web. It's not like this is an either or situation; they actually should complement each other.

What I am saying is that since you are going to spend time, money and effort in organizing WC, you might as well take advantage of the event by positioning it properly in your marketing communications mix. Right now, WC is a wasted opportunity.

Look at WC06: in spite of the progress that Haiku development had made in 2006, only about 10 people showed up, the lowest ever in the history of the conference. Why do you think that happened? It's quite obvious to me (and I told the admins at the time): there was little perceived value in the event, to the point were even the regulars had difficulty making up their minds. As a matter of fact, nobody knew what WC06 was going to be until about a few weeks before the event. IOW, there was no planning and the event was very poorly communicated and in a very untimely manner. No wonder only 10 people showed up (several of whom had to be lobbied personally at the very last minute, btw).

So, in spite of the fact that there is obviously something wrong, there is this fixation with the same failed model instead of trying something different that has the potential to be really beneficial for the project.

Like you, Michael Phipps thinks that nobody beyond the regulars are likely to come to WC. I think this is both the small group mentality at play, a reflection of an oversimplified view of how marketing works and a lack of knowledge on how to exploit the potential of an event by creating real value for an audience.

Putting successfully together an event like WalterCon and fully taking advantage of its potential requires more than a couple of emails over a mailing list. It requires a lot of both planning and actual work. In the past, when Haiku was a small group of self motivated individuals, a few emails was more than enough. But Haiku is not a small group of fanboys anymore, so it needs to adapt (whether you like it or not).

Finally, I am not sure why you ask me what the target audience for WC should be. It is no secret that Haiku needs more developers, so is this not obvious? Since the target has been identified, go figure out where to find them and what their sweet spots are, adapt your product to meet their needs (this would be the conference content in the case of WC) and aim your message at them through the appropriate channels. It's the combination of right content, compelling message and good articulation through the right channels to reach your target audience that will help you succeed in attracting people. In addition to the website and mailing list, Haiku could lay the ground for WC by reaching out to universities and LUGs in the area, and even leverage its presence at other events (like but not limited to LinuxWorld, for example). This would be real marketing at its best, but it requires both planning and a lot of work, both of which cannot be done by a single person.



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