Re: Rebooked venues selected for IETF 112, IETF 117, and IETF 120 meetings

John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com> Wed, 03 June 2020 20:12 UTC

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Date: Wed, 03 Jun 2020 16:11:59 -0400
From: John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com>
To: Christopher Morrow <morrowc.lists@gmail.com>, George Michaelson <ggm@algebras.org>
cc: IETF Discussion Mailing List <ietf@ietf.org>
Subject: Re: Rebooked venues selected for IETF 112, IETF 117, and IETF 120 meetings
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--On Wednesday, June 3, 2020 14:51 -0400 Christopher Morrow
<morrowc.lists@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Tue, Jun 2, 2020 at 8:30 PM George Michaelson
> <ggm@algebras.org> wrote:
>> 
>> My only concern is that the ESTA/CBP barriers to entry for
>> IETF participants who have travel issues to the USA remain.
>> We are in effect normalising US foreign policy discrimination
>> against IETF participation F2F
> 
> It seems that putting a meeting back in the US is really not
> something the IETF should do... not until the current problems
> (virus, <internal strife>, external restrictions> are fixed...
> I don't think we(ietf) should be concerned about the potential
> loss on the SF site deposits/etc...

Apologies in advance between some of the following might be a
rant.

However, July 2023 is almost 3 1/2 years from now (although IETF
111 is much closer).  Maybe, by then, the US will be in the
middle of a full-fledged civil war, there will be a big
earthquake and San Francisco will have slipped into the Pacific,
or there might be another COVID-19 wave and San Francisco might
shut down completely again.   I'd rate the odds of any of those
as quite low but predicting the future is hard and you may have
skills in that area that I lack.  Similarly, a different big
earthquake might sweep Vancouver into the Pacific, there might
be another violent revolution in Bangkok, the situation in
Catalonia might lead to a dangerous level of street fighting in
Madrid (or there might be a second wave of COVID-19 and Spain
might shut down completely again), or another round of border
closures might make travel to parts of Europe (including either
Prague, Madrid, or both) impractical for selected people outside
and/or inside Europe.  The last I checked, it wasn't real easy
for most international travelers to get into Australia or New
Zealand either.

If you want to use the present to predict things several years
out, I think planning a meeting in Libya, Syria, parts of The
Ukraine, etc., would be a bad idea, but I note none of them are
on the future meeting list.

If any of those catastrophic events occurs between now and the
meeting at a place were we are schedule to go, the LLC will just
need to cope.  I'd think it would be close to dereliction of
duty on their part to not be thinking about contingency plans
for all future meetings (not just US ones) right now (and for
those plans for IETF 109 to already be fairly well developed).
Maybe a bad result from the November US elections and its
aftermath should trigger some of those plans (and, given that
political commentary is excluded as a site selection criterion,
I'll leave the definition of "bad result" to the reader).  

However, one thing seems almost certain to me from the various
numbers that have been posted or pointed to in the last several
days, with no requirement for accurate interpretation of crystal
balls, reading omens, etc.: if we blow off any of the three
currently-scheduled US meetings without either reasons that
impress insurance companies or involve arrangements with the
facilities (most likely ones that allow deferral and
rescheduling, not complete cancellation), it will hit the bottom
line unless the LLC can identify additional donors who are
willing to cough up a significant fraction of USD 1M per meeting
cancelled.  And, unless we significantly change how we do
business and maybe even if we do, "hits the bottom line" is
almost certain to go straight to significant increases in the
registration fees.  I have no way to prove it, but I'm much more
confident that such increases will decrease participation in
general and the diversity of perspectives among those who
participate than I am about the state of various problems
several years out.

Do I like the current political situation in the US and its
impacts?  I hope it is obvious that the answer is "no".  But we
put the LLC together, signed off on the Exec Dir job
description, and agreed to a different model for site selection
in order that they could sort out these kinds of issues.  IMO,
it is not helpful for us to try to second-guess them at this
level of detail or based on speculation about what is or is not
possible in the future unless we think we have facts that they
didn't or didn't consider.   I do believe that continued
community work on the conditions for canceling a meeting is in
order.  I also believe that we should insist that the LLC assure
us that there are sufficient contingency planning efforts in
progress that we never again hear "we had to do X without asking
for community input because it was an emergency and there was no
time"  (maybe more on that if I decide to post a note I've been
sitting on for a few days).

best,
   john