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From Steve Holden <st...@holdenweb.com>
Subject Re: ACNA pricing [was:apachecon eu speaker subsidies]
Date Thu, 13 Sep 2012 04:12:57 GMT
On Sep 12, 2012, at 4:25 AM, Ross Gardler wrote:

> Please remember that we, ConCom agreed not to interfere with the business
> decisions of the producer.
> I know Noirin said that Steve should say when discussion was over. I'm not
> telling anyone to shut up, just reminding Steve that he can tell us to shut
> up. ACNA needs to be the event Steve thinks it should be.

Thanks, Ross - and everyone else who is contributing to this discussion. At current levels
I can handle the input from the chattering classes ;-)

More seriously, it is our intention that ApacheCon NA continues to be recognized as a community
conference (though not the "Community Edition"), even though it is being run on a commercial
basis. I know from my experience founding PyCon, as do you, that the primary benefit to the
Board is our assumption of risk. Anyone who wishes to regard this risk as inconsiderable might
like to reflect on the $45,000 we have lost this year on canceled events. In business these
risks can be weighed and accepted, but I know from personal experience they are tough for
non-profits to handle.

We started PyCon because the predecessor conference (the "International Python Conference")
was too expensive, and therefore inaccessible, for many of the people who were contributing
to the code base. Thus it could not really lay claim to being a "community conference" because
the less wealthy contributors (often the bright up-and-coming youngsters with the energy and
drive to put their ideas into practice) simply didn't turn up. When they arrived at PyCon
in force things acquired a new energy level, whose momentum can be discerned to this day.
So I am very mindful of the need to ensure financial accessibility.

This means, however, that to do it properly we have to try and genuinely embed ourselves in
the community, rather than being a predator attempting to live off it. I hear people talking
all the time about "giving back." Until someone can spend a lifetime's unpaid labor writing
open source code for the good of humanity and retire comfortably I prefer to pay it forward
in the hope that when I am old and infirm (next year) the communities I have been part of
will recognize the value of my contributions. This is, naturally, subject to abuse and other
disappointments, and it's entirely possible that I will die a disillusioned idealist. If I
happen to get rich from ApacheCon then I will be able to support the communities!

I know that the work I have done so far for and with the ASF has demonstrated my integrity,
and I hope that the community can respond by realizing that even if we don't get things entirely
right for ACNA next February we are definitely open to community input (before, during and
after) about how to improve it. Even if we aren't selected to run further conferences I will
be happy to pass on my experience to whoever follows. You don't produce great conferences
by turning them into political footballs.

Some of this may, I understand, seem strange coming from a "businessman," but I believe it
behooves us in the open source communities to accept that it's time things were run differently.
ACNA will be a success for us only if the ASF meets its goals for the conference.

Input from the communities we are attempting to serve is invaluable, so we are paying close
attention (despite the distractions of ongoing events). If it gets out of hand I promise to
say so.

Steve Holden steve@holdenweb.com,  Holden Web, LLC http://holdenweb.com/
Python classes (and much more) through the web http://oreillyschool.com/
Conferences and technical event management at http://theopenbastion.com/
Next: Helping with ApacheCon EU (community edition) http://apachecon.eu/

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