Some Finnish thoughts of Guadec+aKademy 2009

Hi all,

It has been great to follow the discussion here. Special thanks to those who have carefully read the three - in my opinion great - proposals, and  have been able to extract the main points for evaluation. I truly believe that the analysis and the comments will be extremely helpful for the chosen conference team, who ever will win the rally.

At this point I would like to take the opportunity to share a couple of thoughts related to our proposal and the comments we have received. As you may understand, the proposal writing process was very short for us, as our steering committee (representing the 130+ companies we have as our members and sponsors) showed green light for this major project just 5 days before the deadline. Surely there are lot of details in the proposal that need elaboration and further consideration. Below I will focus my points mainly on three issues: the costs, sponsoring and prizes.

As COSS has a professional identity and a team that has worked for the open source ecosystem for 5 years already (see e.g. the latest annual report at ), we want to be extremely realistic in what we do and plan to do. It is clear that in conferences there seldom is anything that has a zero cost. Venue has a cost and so has work (that is not volunteer) and everything else as well. Our starting point was that in a huge event like joint aKademy and Guadec, the work load can not be carried by volunteers only (Debconf was held in Finland some years ago with great success by volunteers, mainly by group called LinuxAktivaattori. The result was great but  at the same time the community went overloaded and has been suffering a bit since that). So we obviously need some paid stuff, someone has to pay for the venue and so on. The main point: zero costs are not real and income is needed.

In this case the main source of income will be sponsoring. We assume to have two kinds of sponsors: the global ones that want to support the event wherever it is held (if the location and event is just credible) and the local ones (whre the interest is location specific). In our proposal we have presented that all the costs would be covered by sponsors. The clarify this a bit, our current understanding and commitment is that the venue (including other infrastructure), two social events and at least half of the personnel cost will covered by local sponsors that we can bring in. If the rest of the personnel cost will not be covered by local sponsors, the other income of COSS can be used for this purpose. This is a commitment that we are able to give based on our experience and close collaboration with local businesses and governmental programs.

Finland is not one of cheapest countries in the world, true. On the other hand, Finland is cheap compared to Norway and Tampere is clearly cheaper than Helsinki, belive me. I can not provide you with too much details, but last night's (too long) tour in bars showed me that the prize range of beer (0,5 liter)  is 2-4,5 euros. (Maybe you should also be informed that here it is very common for people, even grown ups, to have "beer picnics", so called "pussikalja": Just buy a sixpack from the store for few euros and enjoy the drinks with your friends in any of the parks. The bright nights are long :-) The most popular places in Tampere for this are Koskipuisto on the riverside in the centre and Sorsapuisto, that is the park just next to our conference venue.)  Maybe more importantly, (as the previous summary of Germa´n indicates) the accommodation and food will be here no more costly than in the other proposed locations.

As a final remark I believe that one factor in the decision making process will be the message that will be read "between the lines" of the decision. I can speak only speculatively and on behalf of our proposal, but if the choice is Tampere, I believe it can be interpreted as a sign openness to new countries as a location, respecting the diversity of the community and in a way as decision to take a fresh new step in the country where it all more or less got started.  Not a bad message, right?

Thanks and all the best for the Guadec in Istanbul! Out official man there is Henri Bergius, so speak to him f2f!



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