This blog entry has a double purpose:
- To help announce the opening of bids for FUDCon North America 2011 to be held this coming winter.
- To describe how this process was adopted, and where to get more information.
The Fedora Project holds a number of global Fedora Users and Developers Conference (FUDCon) events each year. Typically the Community Architecture team’s budget supports one of these large events each Red Hat fiscal quarter (with the fiscal year starting on March 1). This year we have the Latin American event, FUDCon Santiago in Chile, in Q2; the event for EMEA, FUDCon Zurich in Switzerland, in Q3; and a North American FUDCon event in Q4.
In each case, typically the event will happen sometime in the first two months of the quarter, so that we can ensure all bills are paid by Red Hat’s financial deadlines. That deadline usually comes a couple weeks before the end of quarter, so the first two months are the ideal time to actually stage an event. So the North American FUDCon event will happen in either December 2010 or January 2011. The bidders will work with the Community Architecture team to resolve the exact timing.
In the past we’ve often heard from community members that they’d love to have an event in a warmer clime during the chilly winter months. We couldn’t agree more, and now we have a way to empower our community to make that happen. FUDCon Honolulu? Maybe not, but we’re open to other possibilities! We want to find a place for the next North American event that includes:
- Reasonable travel, room and board costs
- Availability of inexpensive or free event space
- A little warmer than Boston (we hope!)
- Active FOSS/other interested communities that might like to attend
- Consideration of academic schedules for students who want to attend
- Consideration of holidays for people in North America
- One or more organizing Fedora community members with the time and energy to help prepare
We now have a bid process that lets interested community members propose FUDCon in their region, or even backyard. Nothing Olympic style — simply a way for excited Fedora folks in the locale to help secure event space, lodging, and other logistical details. We’ve already kicked this process off for FUDCon Zurich 2010, and are looking to start this cycle for North America as well. In the summer, after FUDCon Santiago concludes, we will kick the same process off for Latin America again for a 2011 conference.
So here’s what you need to do to get the ball rolling:
The bid process will be open for a period of approximately 2 weeks. At that point the FPL and Community Architecture teams, as major stakeholders in the event, will go through the bids and make a decision on where we’ll locate FUDCon North America.
So why have this bid process anyway?
At the Events FAD in February, we convened a crew of people interested in extending how our premier Fedora events work. For a while now, we’ve had two kinds of these events — FADs (Fedora Activity Days) and FUDCons. While FADs are quick-hit gatherings of a few people to achieve a specific, targeted purpose, FUDCon is a much larger event that can have hundreds of attendees and spans many different topics, experience levels, and goals.
Another important distinction previously separated the two. While FADs are put together by interested community members, FUDCons were typically planned by just one or two Red Hat employees — typically the Fedora project leader, sometimes with help from a member of Red Hat’s Community Architecture team. Because of a variety of financial and logistical constraints, this meant that FUDCon over the years has often ended up in one of a couple places. Most often this was Boston due to the proximity of the core of Red Hat Engineering people nearby who could provide support for the event. However, we did manage several times to move to other locations, such as Raleigh in January 2008 and Toronto in December 2009.
For the Toronto event, however, we tried a slightly different model — while Mel Chua and I provided funding and some organizational support, much of the logistical work was done by superstar (and current Fedora Board member) Chris Tyler and a crew of wonderful people on the fudcon-planning list. The event was incredibly successful in terms of number of attendees, the discussions that were had, the quality of sessions and hackfests, and costs involved.
We knew going into this event that it would be a proving ground for a new model of having the community empowered to make FUDCon even better than it can be with just one person handling all the planning. By moving to an open, transparent process, our community members got a better appreciation for the amount of work that goes into a FUDCon, and could easily participate in that work. The results were as expected — with the load spread wider, the event ran more smoothly and with less stress per person involved.
So we went forward with an events planning FAD, with the specific goal of identifying how we could make this process repeatable and scalable. That way FUDCon events could be held anywhere there was an appropriate budget and people willing to make the events happen.
Although we knew the first couple of events following this process — EMEA and North America — wouldn’t have the full preparation time we wanted to provide, we also knew both of them had far more than the six months it typically takes one or two people to plan the event. And our community members being the awesome people they are, they’ve of course proved us right again. As we go forward, the rolling nature of the schedule should be sustainable. At the conclusion of one regional event, we can start bidding for the next one. So over time these wrinkles will naturally be smoothed.
Thanks for reading, and your fellow community members are looking forward to seeing bids for FUDCon North America 2011!