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Notes about the first three Oekonux conferences
Maintainer: Stefan Merten, Version 1, 04.07.2004
(1) Most of all this text shall serve as a collective memory. It's goal is until the 4th Oekonux Conference [http://fourth.oekonux-conference.org/] to keep in mind what went wrong and what worked in past Oekonux Conferences. The text roughly follows the structure of the planning text [http://dritte.oekonux-konferenz.de/team/planung.html].
(1.1) Re: Notes about the past Oekonux Conferences, 03.12.2005, 20:16, Stefan Merten: Text has been moved to the Oekonux_Wiki where you can change it.
(2) This text [http://dritte.oekonux-konferenz.de/team/ox3-notes.html] is an OpenTheory [http://www.opentheory.org/] project, so recent contributions and current state [http://www.opentheory.org/ox3-notes.phtml] can be found there. Also contributions can be made at any time there. All contributions made are automatically relayed to projekt at oekonux.de [http://www.oekonux.de/projekt/liste/] where the conferences are prepared.
(3) There are comments from the participants from the feedback forms
(4) 2nd .
(5) For the 2nd conference [http://www.oekonux.de/liste/archive/msg05758.html]
(5.1) 06.08.2004, 23:07, Stefan Merten: For the 3rd conference http://www.oekonux.org/list-en/archive/msg02567.html .
(7) 1st .
(8) WernerW had some very controversial position.
(9) 2nd .
(10) Content presented on the conference was mostly very relevant for Oekonux. Insofar the Call had worked well.
(11) It may have been interesting to have more really controversial positions.
(12) The unstructuredness of the workshops has been criticized. At least partly this referred to a certain workshop where unstructuredness was the concept. Others understood unstructuredness as an opportunity to have some influence.
(13) Redundancy in the talks and workshop has been criticized.
(14) Some abstracts have been too long.
(15) 3rd .
(16) The invited contributions were even more on-topic this time.
(17) This time there were not many workshops.
(19) 2nd .
(20) The introduction to Oekonux in one hour were far too short. Because of too sloppy time management at the end important topics needed to be dropped.
(21) Such an introduction needs to be longer, receive a more prominent place in the time table and more active announcement.
(22) For people who heard nothing about Oekonux so far several talks about Oekonux core topics would be useful. This could be done in an own track or an own day.
(23) 3rd .
(24) The introduction lasted two hours this time which we actually roughly had. There was a presentation given by three people and a discussion. This seemingly sufficed.
(25) The introduction has been placed in the beginning of the second day of the conference and there were no competing presentations. This worked very well.
(26) The introduction has been in German though people had the English blotter in their conference folders. Next time it needs to be in English definitely.
(27) 3rd .
(28) The proposal to extend the focus of the conference to my knowledge has not been actively pursued.
(29) Given that a certain political group from Germany didn't show up at all at the conference the focus has even narrowed instead. I didn't miss anything ;-) .
(30) This time there was a (nearly invisible) art project on the conference. Next time it would be nice to more actively approach artists to make a contribution fitting the conference topic.
(31) 2nd .
(32) The 2nd Oekonux conference has been much more international than the first one. This was intended and it worked. The conference site was available in German and English as was all the advertising material.
(33) The language barrier was a problem - particularly for the English-only people.
(34) The separation of contributions in an English track furthered the separation of English and German participants. Next time this should be mixed.
(35) It would have been nice if all the abstracts would have been available in English.
(36) Spontaneous whispering translation attempts took place here and there. It was hard work and disturbing for the neighborhood.
(37) 3rd .
(38) Again the conference were much more international than the second. There have been about 43% English presentations which were 10% more than on the second. Thus the Call worked good for this also.
(39) The language barrier still was a problem but since we had no English track this time there were far more mixing. We made sure that there was at least one English and one German contribution in each row of time slots.
(40) It would have been nice if all the abstracts would have been available in English.
(41) Spontaneous whispering translation attempts took place here and there. A professional translation has been called for for the next conference.
(42) We had contact to some professional translators before the conference via one of their job mailing lists. There were even four persons which were ready to translate for an invitation. We managed to destroy this because we tried to fix this too late. Though this was also part of the uncertainties in the money issues this was really a lost chance.
(43) As before there was an English and a parallel German web site. Though the organizational stuff has been partly in English it were only on the German site. This should be on the English site next time.
(44) The material in the conference folder was all German. Should be all English next time.
(45) We had a problem with a guy from India who we invited. Unfortunately he was not able to climb the Schengen wall and go to Austria. This was partly due to late start of the process of getting a visa. Next time we need to anticipate these kind of problems for speakers from beyond the Schengen wall and act accordingly.
(46) In the closing plenum we discussed about the fourth conference and there was some consensus that a European, non-German speaking country would be an optimal place. Then English will be the major language and German the minor one.
(47) 1st .
(48) 150-170 participants
(49) 2nd .
(50) 150 participants which is a bit less than our expectations but at the same level as the 1st one. From the check in lists exactly those people came which registered before.
(51) Compared to the 1st conference there were little participation from the German list. On request people answered that they had no time / too far.
(52) Also we had no celebrity like Andi Müller-Maguhn on the 1st conference which may have attracted also some people.
(53) Next conference should be closer to Vienna.
(54) 3d .
(55) This conference was in Vienna ;-) .
(56) Again we had about 150 participants. The check in lists hold 120 (to be checked $$$) but there were a number of people who bypassed the check in so 150 is a good guess.
(57) The number of participants from the discussion list has been probably higher again (to be checked $$$).
(57.1) 07.02.2005, 21:34, Stefan Merten: According to the mail addresses the participants gave about 40 persons are on at least one of the discussion lists so participation of list members were higher again.
(58) As has been noted in the closing plenum the size of the conference is very good. 150 participants in three or four days allows for some personal / community atmosphere which vanishes when there are 1000+ people. This is another argument to do our own conference not combined with any other major event.
(59) 1st .
(60) We had no real body there but things were done mainly via StefanMn.
(61) The rooms have been donated by Verdi (unplanned). The local organization of the conference has been done by an established personal network around local maintainer Helmut Weiss. StefanMz also helped substantially here.
(62) Only financial supporter were the RLS.
(63) 2nd .
(64) First conference where the e.V. acted as the responsible body.
(65) The rooms were supplied by the AStA of the TU. They also donated a substantial amount of money. Another supporter were the Helle Panke e.V.
(66) StefanMz was the local maintainer.
(67) 3rd .
(68) First conference where with the Bureau for Philosophy we had an active local partner which were not from the closer Oekonux environment. Though there were some frictions probably because of different work styles cooperation were ok to very well. However, the distribution of responsibilities and respect to this could have been better. Unfortunately I have little idea what exactly to learn here :-( .
(69) Our local partner donated the rooms very early on. This was a very good feeling :-) .
(70) We had quite a number of financial supporters this time which mainly have been acquired by our local partners. They all gave only a rather little amount so financial calculation is an adventure in itself. One big financial supporter early on would definitely be better.
(73) 1st .
(74) The conference lasted three days. It started on Saturday and went on until Monday where the following Tuesday was a holiday in Germany.
(75) 2nd .
(76) Early in the preparation phase we set up some milestones. This was a good idea and worked quite well so far.
(77) Unfortunately the rooms have been acknowledged very late. This was not under our control and because of university bureaucracy is hardly different anywhere.
(78) An alternative to a university could be a special conference house. However, the open character of the conference would be harmed and we would need reliable registration before.
(79) The conference lasted three days. It started on Friday and went on until Sunday where the previous Thursday was a holiday in most of Germany.
(80) 3rd .
(81) We had rooms from the beginning. This time the financial situation ultimately clarified only a few days before the conference.
(82) The deadline for suggesting proposals was to close to the actual conference (2 1/2 months). Because of this we had to hurry not only us but also our invitees which had only 1 1/2 month from our decision to the actual event. Next time our decision deadline needs to be 3 months before the conference, one month for decision making, two months waiting for proposals. I.e. we need to distribute the Call six months before the conference.
(83) We had four days of conference this time. We started on Thursday and went on until Sunday where Thursday was a holiday in Germany and Austria.
(84) Four days seemed to be very much to me. However, it gave us room for a big number of contributions. Also we started relatively late on Thursday and ended early on Sunday so people could use these days for traveling.
(85) Also this long weekend was a major tourist weekend in Vienna. This was not so good because the hotel situation were bad really early. Such a long weekend is also attractive for many others organizing such events and for short trips so there will always be a big competition in such weekends. Next time we should try to find a weekend which is not so special.
(86) 2nd .
(87) There were complaints that there were too little breaks. Short breaks (1/4 hour) would have been probably enough. Partly this came from the non-existing presentation helpers, who had make the 1/4 hour happen. Next time this should be made clear in the program so everyone knows.
(88) 3rd .
(89) Though we had a very dense program again this time nobody complained about too little breaks. On the one hand this time we had good presentation helpers which cared for a defined ending. On the other hand IMHO the three hour slots were so exhausting people were to tired for the full distance ;-) .
(90) Anyway the concepts of putting two contributions into a three hour slot worked quite well. It saved us an hour each while the discussion seems not to have lost much.
(91) For the first time all slots in the three tracks started and ended at the same time. Before we had one track with three hour slots which collided with the other tracks with shorter slots. To start everything at the same time was a good idea because it saved people from even more complicated decisions about which contribution to participate in.
(92) We had more contributions than ever. Some contributions have been stuffed in rather late. On the other hand in total three invited contributions have been canceled shortly before the conference. We need to think about how to deal with this next time.
(93) 2nd .
(94) The presentation types were sufficient IMHO. There were:
(95) - Talks
(96) - Workshops
(97) - Spontaneous BOF sessions
(98) Have been asked for during the final plenum several times - only simply nobody did them. Either we should have made clearer that this is possible or it was a mere abstract request without a real need.
(99) There was a very interesting BOF session with Graham Seaman and Christof Beaupoil.
(100) BOF session as a word should not be used any longer because although it is used permanently it seems not to become known ;-) .
(101) - Annual member assembly of the e.V.
(102) There were some ideas which didn't take place:
(103) - Café Utopia
(104) - Quiz
(105) - Install party
(106) Other types of presentations would have been possible but have not been asked for before or during the conference. May be we could integrate forms furthering self-organization like Open Space.
(107) There were a number of suggestions during the final plenum and otherwise:
(108) - Combining the discussions of several talks. The typical form of organization for something like this is a panel where several people contribute to a remotely common topic and discuss about this afterwards.
(109) - Open questions are actively requested from the participants and gathered in an organized manner. May be this could be done by a big sheet of paper on a wall.
(110) - A final plenum about the content.
(111) - A overview about the content of the talks of the already present speakers has been requested during the opening session.
(112) 3rd .
(112.1) 05.09.2004, 19:37, Stefan Merten: We couzld show selected films. For instance on the OFF_Filmtage a number of films sounding interesting were shown.
(112.1.1) 26.09.2004, 13:31, Stefan Merten: The_Digital_Tipping_Point could also be interesting.
(113) Once more we had talks and workshops. This time we had also some sort of panels where two persons have been combined in a BigSlot (3 hours) and a combined discussion. Worked very well.
(114) Though we changed the name to "spontaneous sessions" and also advertised this in the opening session there were no "run" to this. There were one spontaneous session about the relationship of the English and the German part of the project. Another more or less spontaneous session was the film ChristophS showed in one noon break.
(115) In the final plenum there was the suggestion to make the whole last day as an Open Space meeting.
(116) We had the public announcement of the Creative Common License in its Austrian version on the conference. This was very good and if possible we should have events of this type on the next conference again.
(118) 1st .
(119) We had three medium sized lecture rooms and some seminar rooms. The size of the rooms were perfect. The three lecture rooms were also very close together so the corridor before these rooms really was the center of the conference.
(120) We also had a usually locked room where we could put our stuff too.
(121) 2nd .
(122) We had two big lecture rooms and some seminar rooms of medium size. The lecture rooms often seemed too big so it would have probably been better if they were smaller.
(123) The seminar rooms were rather distributed - even on different floors. We had a huge area close to the lecture rooms which server as a general meeting place. However, because of its size the atmosphere was not as dense as in the first conference.
(124) We had a usually locked room again.
(125) 3rd .
(126) We had one big and two smaller lecture / seminar rooms. Size were perfect. We also had seminar rooms for spontaneous sessions but AFAIK they have not been used for this.
(127) One room had Internet connections.
(128) All rooms were on the same floor so the corridor was the natural meeting place.
(130) 1st .
(131) We had a commercial food supplier (Döner) who provided a sufficient food. Worked well and we had no additional work with this.
(132) A big advantage of this approach was, that we did have nothing to do with the money. Food were sold direct by the supplier.
(133) 2nd .
(134) We had a commercial but alternative catering service who brought food. The food was delicious and it worked well though we had to do all the work ourselves. It was no problem to engage people spontaneously for jobs like giving out food or washing dishes.
(135) The problem with this approach was that we had to pay a fixed amount of food. We over-estimated the amount much (estimate: 100) so though we sold the food we lost some money here.
(136) 3rd .
(137) In the beginning there were big plans which had then been reduced to what is possible in the very limited time of the conference noon breaks. Unfortunately this limited offer did not take place because lack of organization and maintainership.
(138) On Friday we used the mensa which fortunately were in the same building as the conference. By a huge effort we managed to engage some sort of catering for Saturday which offered delicious food for a reasonable price.
(139) On Saturday this time we guaranteed to buy a certain amount of food (40) but asked for a bit more (60). This way the risk was shared and this worked very well.
(140) 1st .
(141) We had organized a party but this was the biggest flop I ever saw in this regard. Instead people went to dinner in several groups.
(142) 2nd .
(143) Again we had planned a party but this time it worked out very well. The live music from DD&D has been welcomed. The room was a bit small for so many people but after the flop of the first conference nobody had expected so many people.
(144) 3rd .
(145) On Friday we had an evening in a conventional Heurigen pub. It was very nice. On Saturday we had a party which spontaneously had been moved to the woman who offered the food supply the same day. This was a very pleasant evening.
(146) 1st .
(147) The invited speakers had all private accommodation.
(148) We had some mass accommodation which has been used. One mass accommodation option wanted some money we planned to ask from the people sleeping there. This did not work at all - though I think it has not been organized very well.
(149) 2nd .
(150) We had some private accommodation for the speakers which - in Berlin
(151) - were totally sufficient. Well, Berlin is probably the easiest of all places.
(152) We had no mass accommodation this time which a few people missed.
(153) 3rd .
(154) Besides what has been organized by the speakers themselves we had no private accommodation. Thus we had to buy hotel rooms. A few hotel rooms have been donated by one of our sponsors a few others were used in a hotel which one of the organizers is the owner of. Thus we had to pay nothing or relatively low prices, respectively. Though we offered the speakers to have single rooms all accepted sharing a room with another invited speaker. It was even a bit difficult to distribute the donated hotel rooms.
(155) We had a mass accommodation again which was used good. Again it was planned to ask the people sleeping there for money but again this did not work at all. This time it definitely has not been organized. Even some of the speakers chose this option although we did not ask for it.
(156) The mass accommodation has been turned out to be a really good thing. We should have this again.
(158) 1st .
(159) We had a very good conference bureau in the beginning. Afterwards it has been neglected, but this was ok.
(160) 2nd .
(161) The conference bureau worked very well. Unfortunately one person did it alone though he has been asked to be released by several people.
(162) Next time a better organization in the preparation phase - and more helpers for this somewhat unattractive job - is absolutely necessary.
(163) 3rd .
(164) The conference bureau has been there during the complete time. Afterwards people told that it was even fun :-) .
(165) 1st .
(166) We had organized support for the presentations in the preparation phase. Because one of the helpers didn't show up at all at the conference we had to reorganize this completely. However, this worked very well and the presentations have been supported very well.
(167) We had several helper meetings which worked quite good.
(168) 2nd .
(169) Did not work. It was unclear who is available when and who is interested in which presentations. In other words: It was not organized at all. This ended in the situation, that very few felt responsible for this and took it over more bad than not.
(170) Similar to the first conference next time it needs clear organization, so it is at least clear who is available for that job.
(171) 3rd .
(172) This time the support for the presentations has been prepared before. Some of the invited guests which participate in Oekonux have been asked to help and this worked out very well. The organized plan has been executed.
(173) 2nd .
(174) I don't know whether this happened. Nobody asked for it.
(175) 3rd .
(176) I think it did not happen. Some people asked for it but seemingly they made it using our FAQ.
(177) 2nd .
(178) There was a folder containing all important information about the conference and also the blotter. This worked - though in the last minute.
(179) The sort order of the speakers in the folder were not very intuitive.
(180) Local information - where do I find tickets, cigarettes, bank automat - would have been useful.
(181) Photos of the invited speakers as well as the organizers would have been nice and useful in the folder as well as on the web site.
(182) During check-in it would have been good if there were an active pointing to the feedback form. The way it was were only few feedback.
(183) Instead "Woher kommst du?" the feedback form should have contained the question "Von wo bist du angereist?" to make clearer what we want to know.
(184) The scale in some questions was not clear. Is "1" good or bad.
(185) 3rd .
(186) Again there was a folder which had some tourist information as well. It was very similar to the last folder.
(187) The feedback form has been improved but this time it should really have been in English. This applies to some other texts in the folder also. After all the blotter was in English this time.
(189) 1st .
(190) There were specialized lists for the helpers [hox] and the invited speakers [rox]. This worked very well.
(191) [rox] worked very well and people there used it to agree on workshops they did together.
(192) The main organization took place on [pox].
(193) 2nd .
(194) The same as last time. However, [rox] did not take off this time and [hox] has not been used much.
(195) 3rd .
(196) In addition to the usual setup this time there was an extra list for the people in Vienna. Since most of them did not participate in Oekonux this was a good idea.
(197) [rox] had a nice atmosphere again. I perceived the "Dear friends" in one of the early postings as a good ice breaker. [hox] also worked good.
(198) 1st .
(199) We had audio recording of the very most contributions. We had professional and specialized equipment for analog and DAT recording. This has been supported by a few volunteers who also organized the equipment.
(200) 2nd .
(201) As planned audio recording took place with laptops and microphones only. This worked well.
(202) 3rd .
(203) Again we had professional microphone and mixer equipment. The audio has been recorded directly onto computers.
(204) It also has been streamed which has been used by some people.
(205) Has never been there but probably nobody missed it.
(206) 1st .
(207) We had some Internet access on two dedicated, public computers. This has been used also for some Indymedia reports.
(208) We had no option for private Internet access.
(209) 2nd .
(210) We had no Internet access this time since the university couldn't supply it. Has been missed.
(211) 3rd .
(212) We had an explicit room with Internet access by cable and WAN. Was used very well.
(216) 1st .
(217) We had total expenses of about 3800EUR
(218) 2nd .
(219) In total we had expenses of 6170EUR of which 820EUR we need not pay because although they were costs but have not been requested by the speakers because of other financial sources or indirect donations. Thus Oekonux had real costs of 5350EUR. In addition to the 6170EUR total expenses there were travel and accommodation costs in unknown amount which were taken over directly by Helle Panke.
(220) 3rd .
(220.1) 05.09.2004, 15:23, Stefan Merten: As of now in total we had expenses of about 9000EUR. Probably about 700EUR must be added to this for yet unresolved remuneration of travel costs (this is put in parentheses in the paragraphs below). There were additional expenses in unknown amount which were covered by the speakers who renounced remuneration for travel costs. These amounts are not listed here neither as expenses nor as income.
(221) 1st .
(222) About 2680EUR have been travel expenses. We had about 35 speakers. I.e. we payed about 80EUR per person.
(223) 2nd .
(224) Total travel costs have been about 2800EUR. In addition there were about 820EUR which the speakers received from other sources or donates. Moreover there were travel costs of unknown amount which has been cared for by Helle Panke directly (thus these costs do also not appear as income).
(225) We had about 26 speakers. I.e. we payed about 110EUR per person.
(226) 3rd .
(227) 1st .
(228) Food has been sold directly by the caterer.
(229) 2nd .
(230) Food we really misestimated. Unfortunately exact figures do not exist. We payed 1470EUR.
(231) Next time we should care for that we don't need to take the risk of estimating amount of food. This mean not we pay for a fixed amount of food estimated by us in advance, but the food provider sells as much as they can and we only give an estimate of the expected number of people.
(232) 3rd .
(233) Food has been sold directly by the caterer. We guaranteed a minimum amount but this was not necessary.
(234) 1st .
(235) We had other costs in an amount of about 1120EUR
(236) 2nd .
(237) There were other costs for an advertisement in Jungle World, the band, beverage, transport, etc. in the amount of about 1080EUR
(238) 3rd .
(238.1) 05.09.2004, 15:41, Stefan Merten: We had additional costs of about 2300EUR for renting technical infrastructure, various administrative costs, concierge, paper advertisment, and wage for local helpers.
(240) 1st .
(241) The total income was about 4500EUR.
(242) 2nd .
(243) The total income has been about 6000EUR. This is opposed by expenses of at least 5350EUR. These expenses can grow by more travel expenses requested late (from the 820EUR of not requested travel expenses 300EUR are financed by other means safely).
(244) So we have an surplus of about 230-650EUR which is a good fundament for the next one.
(245) 3rd .
(246) 2nd .
(247) There were donations with purpose bound to the conference in the amount of 846EUR.
(248) 1st .
(249) Payment for beverage were about 400EUR.
(250) 2nd .
(251) Income from contributions by participants and donations as well as payment for food and beverage were 1525EUR.
(252) 3rd .
(253) 1st .
(254) We received about 4100EUR.
(255) 2nd .
(256) AStA of the TU
(257) We had a budget partially bound to a certain purpose of 2300EUR. Because of the binding we could not use it completely and it is not clear whether all bills will be accepted. 2123EUR have been requested.
(258) Helle Panke
(259) We had a fine grained, purpose bound budget of theoretically 2300EUR which we did not use up completely. The exact amount can't be determined because some expenses have been remunerated directly by Helle Panke. Without travel and accommodation expenses there were 1700EUR. So far it is not clear whether all bills will be accepted. 1513EUR have been requested.
(260) 3rd .
(260.1) 01.05.2005, 12:33, Stefan Merten: We had a big number of supporters this time which fall into two categories: The first category include the supporters in Vienna or Austria which have been handled completely by our partner in Vienna. From this category there were 8500EUR. The second category includes the German institutions Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung and Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung. Both sponsored the conference with about 1000EUR.
(262) 2nd .
(263) As for the first conference the virtual announcement received wide distribution. Also the conference web sites made a contribution here. This worked very well.
(264) The paper template has been used for a poster in Berlin at least in some places. During the closing plenum some more of these have been wished for.
(265) It has been said, that Linux-Magazin and Linux-User make free announcements for this type of events.
(266) 3rd .
(267) The virtual announcement worked good once more.
(268) There were some local announcements in Vienna and also some micro flyers and posters.
(269) 2nd .
(270) The Call for Papers found wide distribution and resulted in enough interesting proposals.
(271) Among others the Call for Papers has been sent to the speakers from the first conference. This should be done again.
(272) Next time we should talk about a "Call for Contribution" to reduce the orientation to talks and workshops a bit.
(273) 3rd .
(274) Again the Call for Contribution seemingly received a bigger distribution than the invitation.
(274.1) 30.07.2004, 21:35, Stefan Merten: The Call and a number of private requests to contribute to the conference resulted in about 50 proposals for contributions. For the first time we really had to choose and reject a considerable number of proposals.
(274.1.1) 30.07.2004, 21:39, Stefan Merten: We organized a decision making procedure which included that people were able to express their opinion by marking proposals in a table. This led to a number of cases where it was easy to dismiss a proposal and another number of cases where it was clear the proposal needs to be accepted. Only a small number of proposals needed particular consideration which took place after the marking process. In the end everyone who was interested more or less agreed on the result. However, there was at least one person who abstained from the decision making process but was not glad about the result. I think this can not be cared for in any reasonable way.
(275) 1st .
(276) The invitation had probably less distribution than the Call.
(277) 2nd .
(278) Again the invitation had probably less distribution than the Call.
(279) For the third conference we should in all cases mail the people who registered for the second.
(280) 3rd .
(281) The invitation went out rather soon and distribution were seemingly even less than in the second conference.
(282) We invited the registered participants from the second conference and we should do this again for all participants who ever registered for a Oekonux conference.