Hi Ryan, Ryan Leavengood wrote:
On 5/3/07, Simon Taylor <simontaylor1@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote: Anyhow while certain kinds of presentations could help jump start some developers, I think just attending can start a certain "buzz" inside of someone to inspire them to work on the project. That is what happened with me. Of course I had developed for Haiku previously and was really just brought back from a hiatus, so I don't know if the same would happen with people completely new to the project. Also I would not have attended if it was not within driving distance.
Attending a conference and meeting people that have a common interest certainly has a great positive psychological effect. But you need to get the people to attend, and that's where you need to become cognizant that newcomers have a different sweet spot than regulars or returnees in order to cater to them.
In regards to the email exchange between Simon and Jorge, I think both of you make good points. I heartily agree with Simon that some better web content would be very helpful, especially something like screencasts. I recently downloaded the latest Ubuntu and while I'm fairly technical, I decided to watch a screencast about downloading, validating and burning the Ubuntu image. In nine minutes of video hosted on Google Video I was brought up to speed and learned about several free and useful utilities for Windows which help in successfully getting ISO images into a CD. I think similar content could be fantastic for Haiku and would have minimal requirements on the Haiku servers with services like Google Video and YouTube. In fact I may see about producing some of these, once my schedule frees up :)
Tutorials, webcasts, and other online educational material can be really valuable. But being able to produce those really boils down to having enough people with Haiku knowledge and spare time. Haiku still suffers from a shortage of this sort of human resources, which is why it still needs a focus on community growth and the reason that you must take advantage of every opportunity that you have to grow the community (and, of course, WalterCon is one of them).
What would be nice is recording the sessions at WC and make them available online.
In regards to Jorge's emails, I can see the point you are trying to make. Let me try to summarize some points that I got out of it:
Thanks for the summary, and sorry everyone else for my long rants. :) Let me make a few observations.
- The project is at a point where WalterCon needs to become a more serious event and not just an informal gathering of Haiku/BeOS geeks.
I am not advocating seriousness in the form of having to wear suits. A casual atmosphere is good and actually preferred. But...
What I want to stress is the need for a solid plan that will give potential attendees a clear idea
of what they can expect were they to attend WC, plenty in advance.
- There should be plenty of time for planning the event.
Yes, definitely. You need the time to plan and also to execute the promotion effort. Any promotional activity also needs time to run its course in order to maximize the desired effect.
- There should be much more marketing of the event than just emails on a mailing list.
Absolutely. This is critical, actually.
- There should be a more structured schedule for the event, with one or more well-defined tracks of talks, a keynote or two, etc.
This is part of building the sort of perceived value that can entice newcomers to attend.
I personally don't disagree with these points, but I do think Simon has a point that even with such efforts we may not attract many people outside the current BeOS/Haiku community at this stage of the project.
You may not be able to attract many (although the meaning of *many* is relative), but even if it's only a handful (say, 5 to 10), then I think it is worth the effort. We put the extra effort for GSoC 2007 not knowing if Google would choose us; we should also make an extra effort with WC07.
One thing I would suggest is something that the Ruby programming language community originally did with their US conference: scheduled it in the same place and right before another conference with attendees with similar interests. In the case of Ruby the "other" conference was OOPSLA (Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages and Applications.) I attended (and presented at) the first Ruby Conference in 2001, and I saw the overlap of people from OOPSLA who just decided to "drop by" Ruby Conf since they were in town and at a hotel already. Of course now that Ruby has gotten much more popularity (in large part due to the Rail web framework), RubyConf is scheduled and located independently. But in those first few years, "cuddling" up to OOPSLA helped get more attendees to the conference. I think the same could be done for Haiku.
Piggy-backing onto another event is a good idea as long as that event is a big one (ie., attendance of several thousands, at least). This is actually what I proposed (to the admins, to see if they were open to the idea) for a future WalterCon Japan. I even made contacts with the organizers of a candidate conference that I thought could be a nice venue (Kansai Open Source). They actually already co-host another (smaller) conference in the same venue, and it seems to work quite well.
We would just need to figure out what conferences might hold the most people who would be curious about Haiku (LinuxExpo, an O'Reilly Conference like OSCON or Emerging Technology Conference?) People would be more willing to pay another $150 or so dollars to attend the Haiku conference if they are already paying for a flight and a few days in a hotel for another conference.
I am not sure how it would work for WC from year to year. If I am not mistaken (and it's possible that I could be), many big events are held always at the same location, and piggybacking would mean keeping WC always in the same place, which I am not sure is such a good thing.