tom callaway (spot) wrote,
tom callaway
spot

Flock

At the end of FUDCon Lawrence, one thing was obvious to me: Bar Camp style conferences were not working for Fedora. Attendance was dropping, we were seeing the same talks over and over again, and we were spending a large chunk of time just shuffling these same talks into a schedule. It was a sort of echo chamber, where the same people presented the same ideas on the same topics, just in a different place and time. I talked this over with Ruth and Robyn and we all agreed that we wanted to try to restart the idea of what a Fedora conference means, and from that came Flock.

We didn't have a lot of time to put Flock together, and that meant that we had to make a lot of quick decisions without the ideal transparency or community involvement. Wherever possible, we tried our best to be open about the process and solicit help from others, but at the end of the day, we had basically 3 months to make the first Flock event happen. We had a guaranteed venue cancel on us after we had started planning around them and had to restart that whole planning process. Thankfully, the College of Charleston (and the fine folks at the Charleston Linux Users Group) volunteered their space, time, and networks for us.

Putting Flock together was one of the most hectic and crazy things I've ever done, and it wouldn't have happened if not for the help of everyone on staff, but especially Ruth Suehle. Ruth was doing so many things behind the scenes to tie all the loose threads together. To put it bluntly, anything at Flock that you liked was probably her handiwork. Her job was mostly a thankless one, but she was always there, trying to make things more awesome up until the final hackfest ended.

Of course, none of this would be possible without Red Hat. Red Hat believed in the idea of overhauling the Fedora conference and funded it at a scale never before thought plausible. They helped us navigate the financial complexities, made it possible for us to involve third party sponsors, purchased/loaned/rented equipment so that we could stream big chunks of the conference over the internet, and gave us carte blanche to put it all together as we saw fit.

I go to a lot of technical conferences every year. I wanted to try to bring some of the nice things that I've seen at other conferences to the Fedora contributors, and to try to bring as many of those contributors together as I could. I'm pretty proud of what we accomplished together. I hope that everyone came away from Flock energized, excited, and ready to work on making the world a better place through Fedora.

Next year, we have an ever bigger challenge for Flock: to do it again, but in Europe. We're going to have a call for bids coming up in the next few weeks, and we're going to be looking to our community to work with us to make an even better Flock for 2014. It is a lot of work, but the end result is worth it.
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