[openbeos] Re: Waltercon 07

  • From: Simon Taylor <simontaylor1@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <openbeos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 2 May 2007 18:49:52 +0000

Hi again Koki,

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

I tried to make clear at the beginning of my last email that it was not a 
response to you specifically, but more my thoughts on the topic. I'll respond 
to your points a little more directly this time.

> 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.

As I have said before, the chance to meet the developers face-to-face is 
certainly a major selling point for any gathering, independent of content.

> 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.

Yes, OK. I think the web is by far and away the more important channel however.

> 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.

I agree with that. Where I think we disagree is the size of the opportunity 
being wasted. I'd rather the effort for WC went more into developing good 
introductory web content and just have WC as an informal gathering.

> 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. [snip]

Absolutely. The problem I have is I cannot imagine a 2 day Haiku event possibly 
offering enough perceived value to offset the cost for the "new Haiku 
developer" audience that we're trying to attract. I would only go in order to 
meet the gods of the project, but "new developers" will be less attracted by 
that. An introductory Be API presentation might be nice, but I'd rather save 
money and read the Bebook (or better, watch the presentation for free on the 

> 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.

There is something wrong. I think it is the whole concept of a "conference" 
rather than an "informal gathering" at this stage of 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.

I think your belief that people outside the small group are likely to attend a 
conference at this point in the development of the project is due to a lack of 
understanding of the type of people you are trying to attract. I don't think it 
is possible to "create real value" for the new developer audience currently 
interested given the state we're at. It's easy to say we need to improve the 
value proposition of WC for these new potentially interested developers - but 
what in concrete terms does that mean in terms of content? The fact that I have 
not seen any suggested on this thread underlines my feeling that any 
"conference" will not be successful.

There will come a time when Haiku is a stable platform when we want to reach 
out to people and get them using and developing on Haiku. Then we can advertise 
a conference where people can learn about using and programming for Haiku, the 
API, UI guidelines, meet other interested developers, learn a little about the 
internals. That is the point when we have an audience comfortable with going to 
conferences (professional developers, perhaps even funded by their companies) 
and a solid idea about the things we need to tell those attendees. That's when 
a "conference" makes sense. 

> [snip] But Haiku is not a small group of fanboys 
> anymore, so it needs to adapt (whether you like it or not).

I have no problem with Haiku adapting (actually I find your suggestion that I 
do a little insulting, given that I suggested an entirely new method of 
connecting with new people in my previous email).

> 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?

I find it very hard to believe that people who are interested in developing 
Haiku in their spare time would pay money to go to a conference without doing 
research on their own first. And once they've done that research it's hard to 
think of any content that could be in the conference that would make it worth 
the money for them to attend.

> 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.

Absolutely agreed. The "right channel" for this target audience is very 
definitely the web. It's true we could use some better content (I *really* like 
the online presentation series idea, by the way).

> 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.

Targeting universities and other open source events is very definitely a good 
thing. Direct people to the website, with some good content, and people will be 
interested. Asking them to fork out money and time for a conference (even if 
it's local) will greatly reduce the number of people who follow up on the 

So in summary: Any Haiku "conference" is not now able to offer enough value to 
people who are likely to attend it. Therefore WC should be used as an informal 
gathering and advertised as such (actually I'd argue the target group are more 
likely to go to that than something called a "conference" anyway). Improving 
the introductory content for new developers on the Haiku website will be 
orders-of-magnitude more successful than any conference in attracting new 

All IMHO, of course.


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