[This is a long one!]
Last year @amit.lzkpa and I were the devroom managers so the FOSDEM organisers have sent this email for call for devrooms for FOSDEM 2021:
We now invite proposals for developer rooms.
FOSDEM offers open source and free software developers a place to meet, share ideas and collaborate. Renowned for being highly developer-oriented, the event brings together some 8000+ geeks from all over the world.
The tweny-first edition will take place Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th February 2021, online.
Developer rooms are assigned to self-organising groups to work together on open source and free software projects, to discuss topics relevant to a broader subset of the community, etc. Most content should take the form of presentations. Proposals involving collaboration across project or
domain boundaries are strongly encouraged.
For obvious reasons we will unfortunately not be able to run a live conference this year, but we still want to give communities a place to meet online.
We are working on a an online platform (streaming + chat) allowing devroom organizers to run the conference with prerecorded talks with live qa and live presentations with streaming and archiving. The recordings will be published under the same licence as all FOSDEM content (CC-BY)
Developer room proposals should be submitted through the form at https://fosdem.org/devroom which contains further information.
Questions or remarks? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
31 October - deadline for developer room proposals
10 November - accepted developer rooms announced
15 November (or earlier) - developer rooms issue Calls for Participation
31 December (or earlier) - developer rooms publish complete schedules
Note that the demand for devrooms may exceed the supply (even for an
online event). By applying for a devroom you are making a commitment to
fill the schedule.
Devroom coordinators must enter a complete schedule into our conference
system by 31st December. It is particularly important to be available
and to respond promptly to emails about the schedule for about a week
either side of this date.
As we also run this event online for the first time, we would like to
get your input on what duration would be good for a devroom: one whole
day, or rather two afternoon sessions?
Please indicate whether you would prefer Saturday, Sunday or both days.
Please let us know what according to you would be an interesting
timespan for your devroom: eg one long slot on Saturday or rather two
shorter slots on Sunday.
They also sent a follow up about their thoughts on how the online FOSDEM should run:
Our basic strategy is to replicate the various elements of the physical event as closely as we can in an online environment. (Well, except for the overcrowding!)
The main thing to appreciate is that the volunteer input required to produce a professional online event will be significantly higher than you may be used to. We expect a typical devroom to need at least 10 volunteers during the event so that people can take breaks.
Devroom managers will be responsible for finding and scheduling volunteers to perform the various roles needed for an online conference.
Until the end of this year, the input required will be similar to normal
- selecting and scheduling talks. One thing to note here is that use of our systems (e.g. pentabarf) will be compulsory and this includes calls for papers. Systems will change and adapt and we need to be able to contact all speakers directly whenever necessary.
The changes will be noticeable in January, when devroom managers will need to assign specific volunteers to work 1:1 with individual speakers to prepare recordings of their talks. All presentations will need to be pre-recorded and put into our system at least a couple of weeks before the event. We expect live presentations to be a rarity, but even if a speaker intends to deliver their session live, there must be a recording available to use as a fallback if something goes wrong and the live presentation can’t be delivered for any reason.
As regards the features for devrooms, we are thinking along the
- A main stream for each devroom.
Talks here will be pre-recorded, but questions will be taken live.
- A second stream for each devroom representing hallway discussions
that may follow each talk.
- A facility for people watching to submit questions.
- A facility for people watching to chat between themselves.
As such, we’re thinking of the following volunteer roles:
Prior to the event:
A devroom manager and a deputy responsible for everything below.
This includes finding, assigning and scheduling all the volunteer roles required.
A programme committee to select and schedule the talks.
This is the same as a normal year.
Reviewers to help the speakers produce their pre-recorded content.
This is a new role.
Each speaker will need to be assigned to a reviewer who will be responsible for ensuring the content is put into our system and ready to be broadcast.
During the event itself:
Stream controllers, one per stream, responsible for the content of
the outgoing stream at all times.
They will switch between inputs (live video rooms, recordings) according to the schedule and intervene (sometimes on video) and make decisions if there are problems.
They will be responsible for monitoring the content of the chat and dealing with any problems that arise (including banning people if necessary). There might also be people assigned to answering questions about the devroom content.
Every speaker will be assigned a moderator who will be responsible for accompanying that speaker’s session, including all the preparation and hallway chat afterwards, including checking the speaker’s video connection is working, monitoring the chat and submitted questions and asking them on video to the speaker. The moderator will have the speaker’s private contact details and make sure they have established contact with them about an hour before their session.
A separate video room will be created for each session. The moderator will meet the speaker (say) 15 minutes before the pre-recorded talk is played, discuss the chat and selection of questions privately with the speaker during the playback, perform the live Q&A by asking the questions on video, then remain in the room for the ‘hallway’ afterwards where they may, if they wish, invite other people directly into the video chat for deeper discussions on the hallway stream. Once the hallway broadcast ends, if participants want to continue the conversation for longer, the video room will remain available (but not streamed or recorded) and the session moderator can close the room, or stay with it for longer, or hand over moderation to the speaker or someone else they trust.
Ideally the Session moderator for any particular speaker would also be the Reviewer in January so a relationship can be established.
Volunteers and speakers will also need to make time available prior to the event to test that they can connect and use (with training) the systems they will need according to their role(s).
When everyone travelled to Brussels, this part was easy - the event ran on Brussels time.
As an online event, with international speakers and visitors, what should we do? We’re interested in hearing your opinions before we make a decision. Clearly we’ll need to ask speakers for their timezone and hours of availability as this will affect scheduling.
The default position is that we will run the event within a similar envelope to normal. But a wide range of views has been expressed within the team.
Are some potential devrooms influenced by American timezones such that they’d rather start and end later, perhaps splitting across two days with fewer hours in each?
Ought FOSDEM to start a bit later than normal and run later into the evening? 11:00-21:00 Brussels time? Or even take in a bit of Friday or Monday? Should most devrooms be split across two days to reduce the intensity or would that lead to a timetable that’s too chaotic?
So we have some decisions to make!