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SubjectRe: Maintainers / Kernel Summit 2021 planning kick-off
(Trimming the huge CC list)

On Thu, Jun 10, 2021 at 09:39:49PM +0300, Laurent Pinchart wrote:
> The topic of how to best organize hybrid events to maximize
> inclusiveness for remote participants is more interesting to me. LPC did
> an amazing job last year with the fully remote setup, but a hybrid setup
> brings new challenges. One issue I've previously experienced in hybrid
> setups, especially for brainstorming-type discussions, was that on-site
> attendees can very quickly break out conversations in small groups (it's
> an issue for fully on-site events too).

As a (high-functioning) introvert, I'd say that a lot of it depends not so
much on the on-site/off-site nature of participation, but on individual
communication preferences. I've presented quite a bit at conferences, and, to
me, "brainstorming-type discussions" never really happen post-presentation,
largely because being in a spotlight makes me uncomfortable and I generally
try to slink away.

I suggest that something that would help is providing information on where to
ask questions in an informal setting. For example, add the following on the
last slide of your presentation:

Thank you!

Join the discussion:

1. Mailing list: foo@lists.example.com
2. IRC: #foochan on exampleirc.com
3. Matrix: #foochan:example.com
4. My email: foo@example.com

This gives enough options for folks to ask questions whether they are in the
real-life audience or attending online. Listing both your individual email and
a group chat option will help bridge many cultural divides -- some people will
feel intimidated asking a question directly (especially if you are a luminary
in your field) and will prefer to address a group. Others will feel
intimidated addressing a group (what if my question is stupid) and will prefer
to address you directly.

> Session leads should be aware of the need to ensure even more than usual
> that all speakers use microphones. I don't think we need to go as far as
> specific training on these topics, but emphasizing the importance of
> moderation would be useful in my opinion.

I think with most sessions being recorded, people are already well conditioned
to use microphones. I try to at least always repeat the question being asked
if I notice that the person asking it isn't using a mic.

> There will always be more informal discussions between on-site participants.
> After all, this is one of the benefits of conferences, by being all together
> we can easily organize ad-hoc discussions. This is traditionally done by
> finding a not too noisy corner in the conference center, would it be useful
> to have more break-out rooms with A/V equipment than usual ?

I'm generally of the opinion that we should split conferences from hackathons,
anyway.

- conferences are great for finding about cool new things happening in your
field, and work great online where there is no limit on how many people can
join the stream; if the presentation is not what you thought it was going to
be, switching to a different video stream is dramatically cheaper than
getting out of the dark room to find a different presentation.
- hackathons are great for getting things done and meeting up with folks you
rarely get to see in real life -- and they work well as on-site, multi-site
or hybrid events.

For example, the maintainer summit is a "hackathon", even if there is no
actual code hacking done. The thing being hackathoned is the development
process itself and general direction of things. The LinuxCon is for sure a
conference and generally has little tangible value other than a pretext to get
your employer to pay for the trip. :)

So, perhaps more frequent but smaller events around narrower topics as opposed
to huge colocated events? I do appreciate that this is more difficult for
organizers, but perhaps it would result in more tangible benefits?

-K

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