Steven has been hard at work helping organize FOSS4GUK Online, which will take place on June 17th. We discuss how the event will work, who will be speaking, how the event pricing works, and the challenges of organizing a large scale online event. Is this the future of events for the geo community?

The Geomob podcast is hosted by Ed Freyfogle, co-founder of OpenCage, and Steven Feldman, of KnowWhere Consulting.

Every week we discuss themes from the geo industry, interview Geomob speakers, and provide regular updates about our own projects.

Autogenerated Transcript:

Ed 00:01 Welcome to the geomob podcast where we discuss geoinnovation in any and all forms geared for fun or profit.
Steven 00:11 Hi everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Geomob podcast. Today I am once again chatting with Steven Feldman and we're going to be talking about the upcoming FOSS4GUK event. But first, Steven, I have some exciting news. I want to congratulate us in that we have made it to 20 episodes here on the podcast. Well done.
Speaker 2 00:30 Wow, that's a little milestone isn't it? And um, how many listeners are we getting at about,
Steven 00:36 Well, actually very difficult to tell podcast analytics is not the true well developed science actually can't really measure the listeners. You can measure the downloads. I think in total we've had about 5,000 downloads so far. Obviously you don't know then did they listen to it did. There was all of it. Did they stop after 20 seconds and discussed your voice or something? But we don't have, we don't know. So that remains a riddle to be, to be solved by a big thank you to everyone who's who is out there listening. And thank you to all of our guests who have come on the show and please recommend it to anyone else you think might find addiction. One other announcement, we got our next year mob online coming up on the 10th of June. So this will be our third online event. And I think they've gone pretty well, although obviously it's not the same as our offline events. And, and I guess they're, people are starting to have some fatigue at the online events. On the other hand, it's good because we get to have guests from all over the world and I think we have a very good lineup this time. So I look forward to everyone who wants to join us there on the evening of the 10th.
Speaker 2 01:36 Yeah. And I think, you know, when we talk about the fuss for G U K online, you know, we're going to have to touch on this issue of uh, digital fatigue and how many zoom sessions can you stand in any period of time? Suddenly what I've noticed with geomob online being the person on the virtual reception is that you get quite a lot of no shows at these events. You know, we're talking about 40 plus percent of the people who sign up don't actually turn up on the night. I think that's one of the, another aspect of online events that we're going to have to get used to. You know, the capacity of people too come to the events is actually diminishing over time. It's not the same as going to a physical event and actually seeing people and having that drink. Listen, we're doing pretty well. And, uh, the feedback that I get from them is really, really good. You know, people are talking about them and enjoy them.
Steven 02:37 I have enjoyed the events and I don't know why I think this one will be our best one yet. So, you know, let's see. We'll keep going. What, um, give us an update on memories, Steven, what's new with, with um, in the world memory
Speaker 2 02:50 As you might imagine it, you know, the whole point of mapper is people seeing maps in the world. Maps in the wild means you've gotta be out walking around and you see maps on the street. You see maps in strange places. If people aren't getting out, if they're locked down as they are in London at the moment. Yeah, the flow of maps coming into mapper is slowed down quite a lot and that's to be expected. That said, I think, you know we've got posts stacked up until September or early October, so it's not like we're running out of your weekly fix of maps in the world. There'll be coming for plenty. We've got plenty to come and hopefully as people start to get out again and start going on vacations may be and whatever else, we'll start to see more maps in the wild. Coming back up again. What about open cage, what you'd be doing with the geocoding business over the last few weeks?
Steven 03:45 Well, you know, we've been riding the waves of the Corona virus. Some, some customers have been suffering because by definition, usually when you're geocoding it's because things are moving around so they're moving a bit less just like you with an Opry. Nevertheless, we've also had some successes. So we've been using the time also to build up though some of the content on the site. So we just launched a big guide to reverse geocoding where we go into depth talking about all the challenges of reverse geocoding and um, do you use cases and things. And it's one thing that I always find interesting is when, um, when I talk with someone and I say we do geocoding you know, they, particularly people from the geo industry, they say, Oh, you know, what about the, you know, this case. And they kind of assume that their use case is the use case of everyone. And the reality is there are actually many, many different use cases and needs. And so we go into that into the content and we explain, you know, all the different challenges and, and some of the ways people want to do geocoding and things. So there are more layers to the onion than you might suspect. So everyone can check that out
Speaker 2 04:46 Several ways. Are there always, are layers on layers on less.
Steven 04:50 Exactly. Lots of interesting edged cases and things like that. So, but let's dive into today's episode. Stupid. You have been one of the organizers of phosphorus CUK, which is coming up now in a few weeks. Maybe you start out by by giving us the exact time and date and tell us why is there a prosper? Do you care? Cause I originally, it was not planned, if I understand correctly.
Speaker 2 05:11 That's correct. So first Fuji UK online will be on the 17th of June from about nine o'clock in the morning, British summer time until about five 30 in the afternoon. So why are we doing it? Well, if you've been following the news from the Oh SGO community, you'll know that the big global phosphorus in Calgary, Canada was cancelled about four, six weeks ago. You'll know that fuss G Europe, which was in Val Meera in Latvia has also been canceled. And talking to the organizers of both of which I have been doing because of my activities within our SGO. Neither of them were intending to switch to an online event. They both Calgary has canceled completely false fudgy Europe has been postponed for a year and they're hoping to run a European event next summer in Latvia. So we felt there was a big gap, you know, we're an online community who, who look forward to meeting up to sharing experiences and everything and the whole rhythm of the year was disrupted inevitably by this virus and by the cancellation of the events. So we thought, why don't we try and put on an online event? And um, originally our expectations were quite small, but it seems to be gathering momentum at the moment.
Steven 06:50 You know, this won't be the format, there'll be talk. So it'll be Toby kind of like a up one, one stream or there'll be multiple talks or long talk, short talks.
Speaker 2 06:59 We're going to be running something that's fairly like a traditional phosphide year event. They're going to be three streams running all day. They're going to be keynotes. There are a few changes that we're making. So the talks are scheduled for about 20 minutes, maybe slightly longer, but not much with five to 10 minutes for questions. And then at the end of every talk there's going to be a 10 minute break to allow people to have a comfort break, make a cup of coffee, check their email. If they're switching streams, they can find the stream details and switch streams. What we didn't want to do was just to have and bliss hours and hours of slide decks rattling past you, you know, which just becomes a complete zone out for some people. You know, we wanted it to be more relaxed. You'll be able to dip into it.
Speaker 2 07:52 We're going to run something recalling the coffee bar, which is going to be sort of using zoom breakout rooms so that you can decide not to listen to any of the talks and just go into the coffee bar and meet some random person and have a chat with them whilst you're drinking your cup of coffee at home. So we're trying to give it a different tempo and rhythm inevitably, you know? Yes, it's going to be a bit like a GM mobile online, a bit like a FOSS4G in real life, but adapted to the circumstances a little bit. And we're sort of expecting that people will come, some people will come for the whole day and they'll feverously pick out what they want to go to in the first session, the second session and all of that. And um, and some people would just dip in for one or two of the talks and that will be it. And you know, whatever people want to do, that's fine.
Steven 08:46 Is there any fee to attend or, or no. Anyone can just show up.
Speaker 2 08:50 You have to register. And if you go to the show notes, we'll put the registration details in the show notes or if you search for FOSS4G UK online on Twitter, you'll soon find your way to the registration details you need to register. It's completely free to register. We are strongly encouraging, imploring recommending that people make a donation to one of the two causes that we're asking them to support. Or, so one option is that you make a donation to OSU UK, which will help us too defray the costs of the technology and everything that we're incurring to put the event on. The alternative is to make a donation to mass action, which seems to be the charity for Matt geek. It's a great charity. And the third option is if you don't want to donate to either of those two, we just say please donate some money to any charity that you like in the country that you live in. You know, I mean it's free, but we'd like people to put their hands in their pocket and raise some money for good causes, either Eccles is or somebody else's.
Steven 10:05 That's a very cool model. Very, very good. Cause I know. And then when one of the problems you always have a particularly with an online event is if you have people attending from the other side of the world where it's not so easy, maybe for them to transfer money or whatever, you know, where they don't have credit card or things like that, it can be, creates unnecessary stress and friction. So fairness
Speaker 2 10:25 And um, and the whole thing about this is that there's different economics to running an event like this. We'll find out how it works, how successful it is at cost. Serene. So really low, hundreds of pounds for paying for the technology that we need for the event. We've got no other expenses. We're not catering, we don't have venue hire, we haven't sought sponsorship. We're funding this from our reserves so we don't have any, yeah, we've got a really simple website that we've put together for the event. The whole thing has been run by a group of six volunteers. Basically on the day they're going to be more volunteers. And if anyone listening to this wants to volunteer, particularly people who have experience of running larger events on zoom, we need some people to help us on the day. Please get in touch with me or you'll find them details for volunteering on the event website.
Steven 11:26 Okay. Very nice. And I know that you put out a call a couple weeks ago asking for speakers to volunteer. So has the lineup, the lineup has been decided already or no?
Speaker 2 11:36 So we've published the list of the talks. I think they're just under 40 40 speakers or talks, uh, scheduled demonstrations, instructional events, talks, all sorts of different content. We haven't published how those are going to be spread into into the three streams, but um, we've got a rough plan for that. We're just waiting for everybody to come all the speakers to confirm that the times that we've allocated to them work because yeah, we've got speakers from all around the world, not this event, you know, I mean we've got speakers from 1900
Steven 12:17 Oh wow. Well done. Hold on.
Speaker 2 12:20 You know we've got people from Canada and we've got people from North America and from Romania and all over. So just making certain that the different speak, the time zones and everything worked for everybody is what we're juggling at the moment. We've got Hey themes that we're going to be, we've grouped the talks into, so we've got a theme around Toby 19 and what people are doing with geo in that, in that area. We've got quite a lot of earth observation stuff, which is very interesting. And for me I always think that I don't know enough about that so I'll do my best to get to listen to some of those talks. We've got classic mapping and some field based stuff. You know, some interesting talks about capturing data in the field and various technologies for doing that. We've got to a theme across gifts, spatial business ethics and people, which has got some interesting thought pieces in it. We've got loads of technology talks around sort of how's yes, metadata, GSA server, so those sorts of things. So yeah, there's a hell of a lot of content. You know, it'd be good for people who, who know the stuff that want to learn more for people who don't know much about open source, but we'd like to get a quick introduction to a lot of the concepts and Pete and stuff. Yeah, it's going to be a good event.
Steven 13:46 Congratulations. That sounds like a diverse set of talks and let's keep everyone interested. What topics are you most looking forward to?
Speaker 2 13:53 So what am I looking forward to? Well, we've got Maria -inaudible- who was, he's the past president of the osto foundation and she's doing a talk in type of working with big spatial data workflows or what would John Snow do? So it's a sort of big data. It's Corona virus, but he is a fantastic speaker, really entertaining and she's doing the first of the keynotes which will be okay, which actually is going to be at around lunchtime so that people in the States and people in the far East, Oh, I can get to hear her speaking. So put the keynote, which is a different approach to keynote, isn't it? Normally the keynote at the front, we put it right in the middle so that the biggest range of time zones can zoom in to listen to Maria all. We've got Sean Goldman who you may remember, he's talking about mapping the world in three D using commodity video photos.
Speaker 2 15:00 He's producing these really detailed point clouds from photographic imagery. That's crowdsourced. Really interesting project. We've got to meet Denise McKenzie, chair of the AGI at the moment and she's talking about the locus charter and how to use location data ethically and responsibly, which I think will be interesting. What I'm really looking forward to because it's like a geeky one is Ian Turton who works at Aston, is doing a talking titled whatever, just use or should know about projection and all of us who've messed around with data in QTS or whatever our favorite tool is and find our layers not lining up. It's going to give us some understanding of why that might be happening. Wow. Yeah. There's loads more loads more. They're all going to be great. You know, there's, there's nearly 40 talks and I'd like to listen to all of them. Fortunately we're going to record them and hopefully within a few days after the event we'll get all of those talks up on our YouTube channel so people will be able to catch up with the ones that they met.
Steven 16:11 Yeah, that is great. That is great. That's a good, good resource for pitfall. Very cool. Well done weather and then the grass, all the volunteers that are putting together the talks. What I believe you're also giving a keynote, is that correct?
Speaker 2 16:24 I am giving a keynote. Yes. I got the closing slot. So I just started working out what I'm going to be talking about. What I want to do is just reflect on the fact that for years and years we run these big physical events in big venues with increasing numbers of people. And we've always had a tension between the desire of a community to come together and to socialize, to learn from each other, to make contacts. But along with that comes an environmental cost. You know, we're traveling around the world to go to these conferences. I financial costs typically it costs, you know, $600 to get to, you know, to buy a ticket to that your travel costs and your accommodation and attending a FOSS4G can cost you 1500 $2,000 you know, that's a lot of money for a lot of people. It means that it's not accessible to a lot of people.
Speaker 2 17:21 So now we're hosting an online conference, um, and at this moment, well to be honest, last night we had delegates from 34 countries registered for the event and only half of them are from great Britain. So it really is, you know, at the international event that we're running with nobody traveling, nobody say I can't attend because I can't afford it. That's a radical change for any. Um, so I want to reflect on that and I also want to reflect on the gaps that we're going to find through having just an online event as opposed to a physical event and what that might mean going forwards in terms of how we can perhaps run hybrid events and stuff like that. So it's going to be, that's sort of what the talk's going to be about, but by the time I've written it, it might be completely different. And who knows?
Steven 18:18 Well, I'll definitely watch that. Obviously it's on a much smaller scale, very relevant for geomobs. That's the challenge. On the one hand, you want everyone to participate and you want to get speakers from everywhere. On the other hand, that's a lot of fun to be done face to face and have a beer and stuff like that and you don't get that online. So, you know, one approach I saw people talking about is have, have a big international event like what you're having but then have local watching parties. So you know, people could meet somehow at a pub or something, assuming you know, they're allowed to go to a pub and meet in their country, but that they, you know, so that way you kind of get the best of both worlds. The event can bring in people from all over the world, but you still have some kind of social aspect even if it's not exactly the same. I don't know. I think this is good that you're, you're going to explore these topics cause obviously this is what the future holds. So we'll have to experiment with different models and see what works and what doesn't.
Speaker 2 19:09 And another thing that just occurred to me as you said that, cause I remember you sent me that article about people having these parties to watch an online event. One of the challenges of running a really big event is that the big venues are expensive. They can't avoid being expensive. You know, you run a conference center that's going to accommodate 1,012 hundred people. It's going to be expensive, but there are lots of small venues around the world that one can get hold of for very small amounts of money. You know, there can be donated, you know, like the evasion venue, you know, they can donate their venue and you could actually have a hybrid event where effectively you had a stream in each country and you had speakers actually physically, they're talking to the audience in one or two rooms in a building in London and a room in Barcelona, in a room in Berlin and a room in New York, for example. But at the same time that all of those events would be, all of those, those streams were being streamed live to the internet so that people who weren't in those places could be watching them. So you couldn't have a hybrid type thing like that that would work, you know? And um,
Steven 20:26 Yeah, there'd be some logistics involved there, but, but yeah, in theory, I don't know. I think, well, we'll have to experiment more and see what, what, what works and what, what people want to do and what people, what doesn't work, frankly. So yeah. So as we head into the event, what, what are the things that afterwards would make you say it was a big success?
Speaker 2 20:45 Well, nothing too major wrong. Yeah. I'm sure something's going to go wrong on the day. And yeah, in my inner guidance to attendees, we've said, please be nice. We know something go wrong, we'll fix it as fast as we can. Hopefully nothing disasters will happen. Hopefully we won't get zoom bombed. So that will be, that will be a success. If we get through the day without a disaster, it would be a success if all of the people or most of the people who register turn up for at least part of the event. We're not asking or expecting everybody to be there for all of the events, but it will be a disappointment if we've got five, 600 people registered for the event and only a hundred of them bother to turn up. It won't make any difference. We're going ahead and it will be fine, but it would just be nice if people turned up.
Speaker 2 21:37 It will be great if we raise a decent chunk of money for the two causes we're supporting, but it's not really about money at all. You know, the event's free and um, we're happy to fund the costs of it. So, you know, raising some money for map action and no SGO UK would be nice. I guess we want people to have fun. In fact, that would be probably the biggest sign of success if people come away saying, that was really great, let's do that again next year. I think we'd be really happy with that. And so me, because I'm involved in all the, you know, not all the, when I say involved in all the conferences, being a member of the osto conference committee for seven, eight years now, I've been chair of that for a while. I'm not now. This is a learning thing, you know, we have to adapt, you know, when we come out of locked down or as we are at the moment, you know, things aren't going to be the same. You know, people aren't going to be jumping on planes and we as a community need events as part of the whole structure that maintains our community. You know, we can't just have people writing code and communicating on IRC channels. We need something more than that. And this is part of that learning experience of how do we go forward from here on in. So whatever happens on the 17th of June, we'll learn stuff and we'll write that stuff down and hopefully that will help other people to put on better virtual or hybrid events in the future.
Steven 23:10 Well that's fantastic. So congrats, congrats to you and all the other volunteers and organizers putting it together. And uh, I will register and I will be there at least for some of it. And um, I'm looking forward to it. Look forward to learning, looking forward to seeing how it goes. So congrats.
Speaker 2 23:27 Thank you very much. So if people want to find out more about us, we'll put all the links in the episode notes, but the best thing to do is search on Twitter for FOSS4GUK, which is our account. That will give you the link to the website and if you use the hashtag hash #FOSS4GUKOnline, you'll find what other people are saying about us paradise and we'll get all that linked up. All right, good luck. See you on the 17th
Ed 24:03 Thanks everyone for joining us today and listening to the GMO podcast. Hopefully you've enjoyed the discussion. Please don't hesitate if you have any feedback for us or any suggestions for topics that we should cover in the future. You can get the show notes over on the website, which is at -inaudible- dot com while you're there, if you're not yet on the mailing list, please do get on the mailing list where we once a month send out an email announcing future events, summarizing past events and just generally sharing, uh, events that you may find of interest. You can also of course follow us on Twitter where our handle is geomob. You can follow Steven at Steven Feldman. You can follow me freyfogle you can check out Mappery at mappery dot org and of course if you need any geocoding, please check out my service, which is open cage we look forward to you joining us again at a future episode or end of course, seeing you at a future op event. Hope to see you there soon. Bye.