[68ATTENDEES] Returning to Prague (was: Re: Hilton Prague)

John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com> Sat, 24 March 2007 14:46 UTC

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Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2007 10:46:29 -0400
From: John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com>
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Subject: [68ATTENDEES] Returning to Prague (was: Re: Hilton Prague)
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For those expressing a desire to return --soon and often-- to 
Prague and his hotel, one thought...

I like the hotel and the staff and the facilities.  I mostly 
like the city.   Under the right circumstances, I'd be delighted 
to come back.

I am also sympathetic to, and agree with, those who say "if you 
decide to come into a particular culture, you accept the norms 
of that culture and work with them".


I think there are issues about health and accessibility that 
supercede _any_ other considerations of meeting site choices. 
In order to have effective IETF meetings that are open to all 
participants and contributors in the IETF, we must put 
health-related criteria above all others.   If a country or city 
or hotel does not, or cannot, provide an environment in which 
people can attend a meeting for a week without the certainty of 
serious and immediate health damage from the atmosphere (indoor 
or outdoor), I will defend their right to make that decision, 
but the IETF should not even consider meeting there.   If a 
facility and city are not largely wheelchair-accessible, the 
IETF should not even consider meeting there.  And so on 
(although I don't think the list is very long).

There may be tradeoffs if a facility can provide a truly 
effective smoke-free environment or adequate mobility 
accommodations -- telling an IETF participant that he or she may 
not be able to comfortably leave the meeting hotel for a week is 
unattractive, but may not be a showstopper if there are adequate 
facilities within the meeting hotel.  But telling people that 
the cannot attend and participate and remain healthy is, from my 
perspective, just not acceptable if we have any other possible 

In the case of Prague, we heard the argument many times in the 
week before the meeting that this choice of city was reasonable 
because there are lots of participants in Europe and, to a 
European, one city is as good as another.  Ok.  But, if one 
believes that, then there is no excuse for going to a city that 
hasn't accepted growing norms, even in Europe, about indoor air 
quality (or, for that matter, accessibility standards or 
anything else that belongs on this short list of absolute 

Even the "need to look at the people various visa regulations 
will keep out" issue is, to me, secondary to this one even 
though I consider that one very, very, important and hope we 
will never again hold two consecutive meetings that de facto 
exclude the same people.

I am luckier than Randy because my body's potentially serious 
reactions to small amounts of tobacco smoke can be kept within 
reasonable levels by a combination of caution and drugs.  But I 
don't like some of the drugs and, more important, they 
significantly reduce my ability to function (as some people may 
have noticed this week).  To either of us, this type of 
environment is a fairly clear "don't come and participate 
remotely if at all" message.   I do not believe IETF should be 
delivering that message, especially to active contributors.


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