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[edit] What is the role of the Talks committee?

The Talks committee for DebConf10 has had a hard time, in part because the role of the committee was poorly-defined, and its workflow and relation to the scheduling team were unclear. Hopefully this page can document some useful suggestions for future Talks Committees to structure their work without going through the same pain.

[edit] Requirements to satisfy

Things in bold are "requirements".

[edit] Attendees

  • Be able to tell what events are "recommended"
  • Not have too many conflicting events of a similar nature
  • Have some sort of thematic grouping on the schedule for ease in identifying interesting talks.

[edit] Fundraising

  • Produce a list of highlighted talks to show prospective funders (for this or future years)

[edit] Talk Logistics

  • Be able to put talks into rooms of a good size for them
  • Be able to put events important to those not at the conference and in the future into a room with video
  • Have spare slots available at the conference so that attendees can use them in an "unconference" fashion.
  • Have spare slots so that important talks can be scheduled closer to the conference, or during it

[edit] Video team

  • Only video in two rooms
  • Have a pre-defined schedule and NOT have to video things on a short notice

[edit] Scheduling team

  • Not have to do lots of shuffling at the last minute.

[edit] Publicity

  • Have a list of talks for use in marketing DebConf or Debian Day for possible attendees.

[edit] Possible Workflows

Workflows proposed below attempt to outline the scope of talks team responsibilities and activities for DebConf. Each workflow should have a shorthand name for easy reference.

[edit] The "A-Train" Workflow

This isn't proposed for _DebConf10_ year, just as a general concept for future years, to be adapted as future organizers see fit. The people doing the event-related jobs for DebConf10 can decide to what degree they want to adapt it.

[edit] Initial submission phase

  • Talks committee issues wide call for event proposals
    • Event proposals should include resource needs (projector? video-team coverage?) and the submitter's idea of expected and maximum possible attendance.
  • Talks committee issues call for track proposals -- a track proposal is an offer by an attendee with a specific thematic interest to solicit, vet, and curate proposals related to that theme. (this does not have to be formal, or in penta -- e-mail is probably sufficient, as these will be few in number) The degree to which they want to integrate tracks is up to the talk committee that year.
  • Talks committee selects some track proposals, delegating the position of Track Coordinator to the proposer. Track Coordinators need access to see the submissions in detail to be able to identify proposals that are relevant, as well as identifying relevant proposals that need more work.
  • Track coordinators identify proposals as tentatively belonging to their track.
  • It would be nice for prospective attendees to be able to mark proposals with "i would like to attend this event".

All submitters are made aware of the pending selection process with text like the following:

Your proposal will be reviewed and possibly selected to be Featured at DebConf. Presenters of Featured proposals will be prioritized for needed funding, and Featured proposals will be offered video-team coverage (live streaming and recording) if desired. Some Featured proposals may be highlighted publicly for fundraising and publicity purposes.
While we cannot prioritize or highlight every proposal, DebConf makes a strong effort to accommodate other events during the conference with an unconference-style arrangement that runs concurrently.

[edit] Selection phase

  • The talks committee needs to talk with the venue team to know the number of rooms and times they can be used during "conference hours" (usually daytime). Start this early!
  • Talks committee rates proposals in some way acceptable to them. Their goal is to pick "Featured" proposals: those which show the best of debconf (at that time). If the total number of available daytime scheduling slots is N, something like 2N/3 talks should be selected as Featured. This leaves a reasonable amount of space for the unconference and any last-minute changes.
  • Talks committee divides proposals into "Featured" and "Not-Featured".
  • For each Featured proposal, Talks committee can give recommendations to the scheduling team about whether they think needs large/small rooms or should be videoed/not-videoed.
  • Talks committee prepares a "List of highlighted DebConf events" used for advertisement purposes (including soliciting funds). This is a subset of the Featured proposals.
  • Talks committee may prepare a list of plenaries. this is a (very small, between 1 and 6?) subset of the Featured proposals. The scheduling team is asked to schedule nothing concurrent with these proposals.
  • Talks committee evaluates the proposed tracks, and may introduce other track groupings, for example, "Social Events", "Free Software Community", or "Infrastructure". If there is no coordinator for these tracks, then it could be a track just in name without a coordinator: this will still help attendees to see related talks in one color on the schedule.
  • Not-Featured proposals are told "Your proposal was not selected as a Featured event at DebConf; there will be some free space and a simple unconference system at DebConf, so if you'd still like to present your event, you should pursue that approach when you arrive." (provide link explaining unconference system, see below)
  • Featured proposals are told "Congratulations, your proposal has been selected as a Featured DebConf event."

[edit] Bursary team advisory

  • Bursary team is asked to consider presenters of Featured proposals (esp. plenaries and highlighted events) more highly when allocating funds

[edit] Scheduling team advisory

  • The scheduling team needs to talk with the venue team to see what rooms are available (with their size and type, e.g. lecture theatre or conference room) and when they can each be used.
  • Decides which events are best for which room (taking into account recommendations of the talks team, not just proposal author estimates)
  • Avoids scheduling anything opposite plenaries
  • Leaves many slots empty. There is no particular effort to fill certain rooms completely. Putting the best talk in the best room is the primary goal.
  • Not all Featured events are guaranteed to get video-team coverage, even if they get scheduled for a video-team-supported room.
  • Some videoed rooms slots may/should be left empty, too.
  • Scheduling team should try to avoid scheduling conflicts between events in a given track. A Track Coordinator may request contiguous time slots in a single room for their track, which the Scheduling Team should take into consideration (but is not obligated to fulfill).

[edit] During the conference

  • A master list is given to the video team. This is the videoed talks, no additional talks will be videoed even if they are in a room with video.
  • There is no more official scheduling

[edit] the on-site scheduler

  • The pre-conference talks committee and scheduling team are not necessarily expected to continue their obligations during DebConf
  • Instead, there are "On-site schedulers" who manages any new events. These may be members of the Talks and Scheduling teams but do not have to be.
  • The on-site schedulers can adjust the schedule in Penta, if need be, but should be aware of the needs of the video team. They must communicate with the video team to prevent problems
  • The on-site schedulers should also manage the unconference phase below.

[edit] the unconference

  • Each day at around lunchtime, the on-site schedulers prepare a list of open rooms and slots for that afternoon/evening and the next morning, and post them on a wiki page / wall. (The exact timing of opening of slots is up to the organizer).
    • Attendees can sign up for any of these slots. First come, first serve.
    • These events are NOT videoed, unless it is by individuals acting themselves. The video team need not concern themselves with these spots.
    • These events are NOT added to the schedule in pentabarf. They exist only on the wiki.
  • If an _important_ event (e.g. Release team panel, DFSG panel...) comes up, the people requesting it can:
    • Ask an on-site scheduler to add it to the penta schedule in advance of when slots are opened for unconference events. No promises here, and the earlier scheduling team need not be involved.
    • If the event is placed in a room with video-team facilities, the video team can be asked nicely if they can record it. There is no obligation, it depends on the decision of the video team members involved.

[edit] The null workflow

Don't schedule any talks.

Motivation: The talks part of DebConf gradually expanded until in recent years it lasted a week. The number of good submission did not expand in line with this (the total number of submissions has fallen) and we now struggle to fill the slots. However, most DebConf talks are simply a distraction from more productive aspects of DebConf: group work on Debian, relaxed face-to-face technical discussion, and social bonding between usually-far-apart developers. It's a waste of our resources to bring people together from all round the world for them to then sit in silence watching a presentation which they could easily view remotely.

[edit] The minimal workflow

We have more space and time than talks to fill them, so simply provide some talk rooms and a synchronised physical/online view (wiki + projector, or wall + camera) of an initially-blank schedule.

Predetermine which slots will be filmed, and mark this on the initial blank schedule.

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