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Re: DebConf 2 post-mortem



On Jul 10, Scott Dier wrote:
> * Chris Lawrence <lawrencc@debian.org> [020709 20:32]:
> > - Housing in general was less than satisfactory.  I realize this is a
> > dorm, and the price was right (particularly after multiplying by 2/3),
> > but I found the conditions to be bordering on squalid.
> 
> Then you could have easily paid more than twice as much on a hotel room.
> I checked.  Nevermind the need for transport (rented car?) at that
> point.  Some cities aren't cheap.  The YorkU rooms were a steal.

There is some debate on this point.  My most serious issue was that
four strangers + ones' self in a confined space seems a bit of an
overload; if I'd known beforehand I was going to be sharing with four
people, I probably would have gotten a hotel room.

(Note that this isn't the fault of Joe or anyone else except
Hospitality York.)

> > particularly since the only feasible alternatives were on-campus
> > ripoff dining facilities.
> 
> Hahahaha.  You've never been to a university in the US with outsourced
> food to only one company (aramark) who sucks more than any fast food
> joint you can think of.

Yes I have.  I work at such a university.  (In fairness, my C$ <> US$
mental converter wasn't working all that well when I watched $10
disappear from my wallet every time I wanted to eat something.)

I think the larger issue - that YorkU was pretty isolated from the
rest of the universe - shouldn't be overlooked, particularly since the
whole schedule was so ad-hoc that if you tried to do anything for
lunch, you might miss half the next talk before you got back.  If
nothing else, a semi-catered meal would have made it easier to fit
into schedule overruns; if nothing else, when the pizza shows up, the
presenter has to stop.

> > locations that are convenient for "tourist stuff," not university
> > campuses in outer suburbia.)
> 
> Yes, and then we run into the 'charging a fee' bit and paying 2-4x for
> hotel costs.  A few minutes on the subway and bus didn't kill me.

Hmm, but you didn't lose your backpack like srbaker. :-) My general
point is that it would have been nice to be somewhere where it wasn't
a big production to do the "tourist stuff".  Again, "would have been
nice", not "essential or else the conference is a failure".

In fairness, this isn't a YorkU-specific problem; relatively few
universities are both in big cities and convenient to stuff.  (Not
many are even all that convenient, even in smaller places.)

I think most of my concerns are to do with communication and time
management, really, and I can't think of a single problem that
couldn't be dealt with fairly easily for the next DebConf.  Simple
stuff, like a central web page at conference.debian.org; better
details on accomodations; more info on "what to expect at RandomU";
proceedings (copies of the presentations - transcripts would be even
cooler); etc.  It's all in the details.

Also bear in mind that I'm used to academic conferences with hundreds
of participants and huge budgets and printed programs and conference
hotels and open-bar receptions and the like.  I realize DebConf isn't
an academic conference, but there are lessons to be learned from them.

Lastly, I'm not doing this to rip on the people who made this happen;
I want to make DebConf 3 better.


Chris
-- 
Chris Lawrence <cnlawren@olemiss.edu> - http://www.lordsutch.com/chris/

Instructor and Ph.D. Candidate, Political Science, Univ. of Mississippi
208 Deupree Hall - 662-915-5765

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