[openbeos] Re: Waltercon 07

  • From: Simon Taylor <simontaylor1@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <openbeos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 3 May 2007 10:38:03 +0000

> From: "Jorge G. Mare (a.k.a. Koki)" <koki@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Hi Simon,
>> 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.
> That is analogous to the reaction to the proposition of starting a 
> marketing push for Haiku last year. Look where Haiku is now.

The fact that people thought it was too early to start marketing (not me, btw) 
does not mean you are on the right track whenever anyone thinks something is 
happening too soon. If someone suggested running TV adverts showing Haiku I'm 
sure we would agree it's too early.

The difference is that we have had stuff to say to people for a while - look at 
this project, look how far we've come, find out more information - that is the 
awareness building that has been done very successfully (that you can take a 
great deal of credit for). What we didn't have then, and still don't have now, 
is stuff to fill a 2 day long Haiku-specific conference.

> >> 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.
> >   
> WalterCon is a conference, and it was meant one from the very beginning. 
> That's why it was called WalterCon.

And it has never been successful from the beginning - how many new Haiku 
developers have been introduced by any of the WalterCons? It's my opinion that 
it's not the content that has been at fault, it's the whole concept.

> [...] it has maintained the small group approach until 
> today, when the project has *undoubtedly* much more visibility and 
> general recognition than it has ever had, is more a matter of Haiku's 
> inability to recognize/accept the need to adapt to the changing needs of 
> the project.

I'm proposing a fairly radical change - dropping the whole "conference" thing 
and just have a gathering. The time for conferences will come.

> You can look at past problems that became very evident with WC06 with a 
> critical eye and try to change course by trying new approaches, or you 
> can choose to pretend that everything is OK and stay with the same 
> failed model. I would rather take the former approach, even if it may 
> encompass some inherent risk.

My recommendations, often stated, are to scale back the importance of WC, make 
presentation-style content available to all via the web on a regular (not 
annual) basis, and have a gathering for interested users and developers. I take 
exception to that being described as "staying with the same failed model".

> I don't claim to know everything about the audience, but I think know a 
> bit of how marketing works. :)

And I don't claim to know very much about theoretical marketing practices, but 
"knowing your audience" is definitely an important step :)

> Even not being techie at all, there are some general topics that I can 
> think of, along the lines of Haiku programming for Linux devs, introduction 
> to the Haiku API, setting up a Haiku development 
> environment, etc. Obviously, there needs to be thought put into finding 
> what the sweet spots for your audience are. I am sure the other Haiku 
> devs out there can think of many more topics and help make a well 
> designed program.

Finally we get to content, the core problem. I don't share your assurance that 
a program could be developed to suit the "new developer" audience (or any 
audience for that matter) - and that is the key underlying my entire position. 
Here some potential audience groups, what content they might like, what 
problems there are with that at the moment and how we might cater to their 
needs in the future.

Users: Might like to see introductory how-to-use Haiku presentations and 3rd 
party apps in the pipeline. Problems: Haiku is pre-alpha, so how-tos might not 
represent how things will work in the final release, and users will not be able 
to go and try out the techniques immediately. There are no really exciting and 
cool apps in development at the moment. In the future: would be well suited to 
a MacWorld style expo event.

3rd Party Application Developers: Would like to know about the process of 
programming on Haiku, and the API. Problems: Haiku is not stable enough to host 
development so people would be directed to BeOS. Might feel cheated to find a 
programming for Haiku conference is actually a 
programming-for-dead-commercial-OS conference. In the future: Would be perfect 
targets for a conference or development seminar event.

New Haiku Core Developers: These are the people you seem to be aiming WC at. 
They are people we hope will devote their free time and effort to coding for 
Haiku. They may be interested in things such as setting up R5 as a development 
environment, checking out the tree, the general layout of sources in the tree, 
and coding guidelines. Any other presentations they are likely to be interested 
in would be very specific to the area they want to work in (VM, Networking, 
Media, lots of others). Problems: Guides to setting up the environment and 
checking out and exploring the tree are best followed step by step on the 
developer's computer - ie it is better to have them online rather than just 
have a presentation somewhere about them. Any presentation on a specific part 
of the code will inevitably not cover all they need to know and so the ability 
to delve into the code independently will be required if they are to be 
successful Haiku contributors. In the future: Web content is key to 
 this group. They need content they can access when they need to - at the time 
when they are sat at their computer with the code in front of them. If they 
become contributors, they may move to the "regulars" group.

Regulars: Want to meet the people behind the code, and have discussions about 
internals, future direction, and just general social chat. Problems: None 
really, but there is little content of interest to them - they already have a 
good knowledge of the project and know the people and places to ask if they 
need to find out anything. In the future/now: An informal BeGeistert-style 
gathering for Haiku fans is perfect for these.

>> 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.
> Let me see if I understand: are you saying that Haiku has no interest in 
> finding more developers that could potentially work on stuff that needs 
> to be finished before R1?

Errm, nope. I'm saying a conference is not the way to find those developers.

> And why do you keep coming back to this professional developers thing? I 
> am not talking about professionals or businesses. I am talking about 
> devs that could be enticed to attend if they were given a good reason to.

You're talking about the "New Haiku Core Developers" group I mentioned above. I 
don't think a conference is the right channel to attract them as I have 
explained. The professional/business people I have renamed the "3rd Party 
Application Developers" in this discussion - they might well be attracted to a 
conference but the time is not right for that "Developing for Haiku" conference 
just yet.

>> 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).
> The web is very important, and I don't question that. But the web is not 
> the only channel to promote your conference: 

I'm not talking about the web as the channel for conference promotion - I'm 
talking about the web as the channel for conference material. The advantages 
are huge:

- Free access to presentations as and when visitors want.
- Free choice of specific technical presentations of interest.
- Much lower barrier to entry - no time or money commitments required.
- Can be watched sat at the dev's computer with the code in front of them.
- Presentations can be added on a regular basis which will both build 
understanding and maintain interest of subscribers.
- Contributions from all over the world are possible.
- Questions arising from the talks can be added to the same page so everyone 
benefits from the insight of all who have watched it.
- Save the planet by not flying around the place.


- No face-to-face opportunity to meet people => informal social gathering 
events should take place.

> If it's not a conference, as you say, then the name of the event needs 
> to be changed. Perhaps something like WalterFest may be more attune to 
> what you envision for WC. Otherwise, the name does not reflect the 
> reality and is therefore misleading (one of the BIGGEST no-no in marketing).

Agreed. WalterFest sounds OK. If the content as I describe is added to the 
website then it really just becomes a social event (obviously people are free 
to present stuff live too - this might even be easy if the presentation 
material has already been created for the web audience). I'm OK with just a 
meet-up event.

Obviously having all the content that was going to be in the conference 
available for free online reduces the value proposition of the conference as an 
event. That's not a problem if overall the result is positive for Haiku, as I 
firmly believe it would be.

> With regards to the informality aspect, I suppose you are referring to a 
> casual atmosphere (correct me if I am wrong), which I also think is 
> preferred. But one thing is a casual atmosphere, and another informality 
> in the form of lack of organization and/or a well defined program; the 
> latter is very detrimental, and a real show-stopper.

The key thing for the regulars is the social aspect. Interested local Haiku 
watchers may also be persuaded to attend to meet up with some of the community. 
That's all the event should be at the moment.

Again, when the time is right for a "Developing for the Haiku Platform" 
conference we will need to think and plan much more carefully.


ps: Is anyone else actually reading this thread? I'd like to hear some other 
views on whether a "Haiku conference" actually makes any sense given the 
current state of development of the project and the people (new developers for 
the Haiku project itself) we are trying to attract.

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