Re: [Recentattendees] IETF 100, Singapore -- proposed path forward and request for input

Paul Wouters <paul@nohats.ca> Mon, 23 May 2016 16:23 UTC

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From: Paul Wouters <paul@nohats.ca>
Subject: Re: [Recentattendees] IETF 100, Singapore -- proposed path forward and request for input
Date: Mon, 23 May 2016 12:22:45 -0400
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> The model which asserts that choosing meeting venues is a way to recruit participants has no objective basis -- and that's after 30 years of opportunity to demonstrate otherwise.

That would be the same 30 years we were never in South America? What percentage of South American participation did we get by never going there that proves your point?

According to https://www.ietf.org/blog/2016/04/ietf-95-summary/ we had 14% participation from the region at IETF-96. Those are people that were new or possibly rarely attend. I can tell you that I would have never become an active participant in IETF if during my first meeting I hadn't had so many great face to face talks with people who took the time to help me with my ideas and my (lack of) knowledge and procedures. That is quite unlike the mailing lists, where things tend to get heated, buried and somewhat unpleasant.

> It frankly serves to work against the basic goal of having most work done on mailing lists, by selling a cultural view that meetings are primary.

That argument cuts both ways. Seasoned IETFers are actually much more in a position where they are able to miss a meeting because they already have the face to face connections with many colleagues. It is the new people we want to attract that are helped tremendously by meeting face to face and getting included in our community. If that could have been done solely online IETF meetings would have petered out instead of reaching number 100.

> Anyone who wants to participate in the IETF already can.  

You might not be in the best position to understand how one joins a new community like the IETF since you were there from the beginning. It is quite intimidating and the face to face really helps with that.

> All they need is an Internet connection.  It doesn't even have to be a good one, since IETF list mail only consumes extremely low bandwidth and is an asynchronous form of use.

This comes from a position of privilege. Imagine English is not your first language and speaking is easier than writing.

Also, the (regular) attendees who won't be able to come to Singapore are also the ones for whom it is easiest to make a voice or video call or send emails to keep their work going and who should need these face to face meetings the least.

> F2F meetings permit /added/ efficiency for those who are /already/ participating.

That really depends on your definition of "already". Our Sunday courses that explain how to participate in the IETF are hugely popular. Sure, those documents are online but that's not the same as having face to face time, having a mentor, be able to ask questions, etc.

> Moving the venue is /not/ for permitting attendance by those who otherwise can't attend, but (is supposed to be) to share the pain among those who do attend.

So I disagree with that statement. Being able to attend at least one meeting every year or two because it is reasonably local to you is hugely important for diversity, unless you want the IETF to be even more closely run by a few big vendors that can spend lavishly to send their engineers.

Paul