Hey folks. I was talking to Guillaume on IRC and he was wondering about being able to attend just one topic area at the dev summit without having to find something to do during long periods of discussion that are irrelevant to him. It seems like having themed tracks or maybe different focuses on different days would allow us to accommodate attendees like Guillaume. What do you think? Does that already jibe/clash with some plans that have already been put in place?
Topic on Talk:Wikimedia Developer Summit/2017/Program committee
Focused tracks or daily themes for topic areas
There are no plans already put in place, and we can organize the schedule in the way that makes more sense. Grouping by tracks would make sense, and we did a bit of that last year already. Doing it in a more clear way is something we should consider.
However, in order to make this fit with i.e. Guillaume's case, we would need to commit already now to topics/days (while the registration is open, asking participants which days they plan to attend). That sounds more complicated to do now, when the call for participation is still open and some main topics still don't have any proposal.
Why would we need to commit to days/topics now? It seems that Guillaume could adjust his schedule to which ever day/time we pick.
OK, then maybe I was seeing it as more complicated than it actually is. Good. :)
If space allows, maybe we could have permanent rooms by big topics, where people can hang out and work during "irrelevant" sessions? That way we wouldn't need full-time tracks. For example, we could have a "Research" room where people interested in research could work together when they're not attending another presentation. Maybe that same room could be used for planned or impromptu workshops.
I have no idea of what the logistics are, so let me know i this doesn't make sense.
The idea makes sense in theory. We will check it against our availability of spaces. Thank you!
Edited: in fact, the room would be needed only when there are no pre-scheduled sessions about the topic, which gives a higher percentage of possibilities for this to work out.
I'd be more in favor of "daily themes" than "focused tracks". My experience last year was that it was hard to have multiple tracks that didn't require me to be in two places at the same time. Now, this might just be due to the fact that (a) I submitted a bunch of proposals, and (b) I try to be a generalist on the projects -- but I know there are quite a bunch of other folks at WMF which are similarly multidisciplinary -- and in fact, encouraging mixing between "focus areas" (IMO) ought to be one of the aims of the summit. Like required humanities courses at an engineering school -- it's good for you, and we might all be surprised to find that the subject wasn't quite as irrelevant as you originally thought. Hopefully we'll get interesting cross-pollination, and if we don't we at least get more holistic views of the organization.
Rather than subject-area tracks, maybe we can split between "discussion groups" and "working groups". We might all fruitfully offer or hear some opinions of (picking a random example) the future of Flow ("discussion group"), but when it comes time to nail down the precise DB schema needed for roadmap item 4 ("working group"), it might be best for a small group of specialists to meet off to the side.
Of course, it may be that a few of those specialists happen to be in high demand, so we perhaps have stumbled onto the tracking problem again from the other side. Perhaps "working groups" could be scheduled alongside general hackathon time (for everybody else), rather than risk conflicting with another session.
If we concentrate this month on the selection of good topics to be pre-scheduled (based on the interest of the topic and other factors), then we will see which pieces we have to combine. Speaking about a structure before knowing the sessions is difficult.