September 8, 2014
The Foundation recently sponsored Damian Vicino to attend BSDDay Argentina. Here is his trip report:
BSDday is the only BSD conference in South America as far as I know. The event’s inception was in 2008 by 2 BSD Users Groups in Buenos Aires City. participated as part of the organisation committee from 2009 – 2012. In 2013, the event had no edition because of some big changes in the livesof the people participating in the organisation committee. In my case, I moved out of the country (and the continent). Thanks to the FreeBSD Foundation, I was able to return to South America for a few weeks this year to re-float the committee and the event, making possible the run of a 5th edition.
We started the preparation a few months before by coordinating remotely, but there was a lot of stuff to be done in-place, so I traveled 10 days earlier. In the days before the event, I coordinated with Universidad de Buenos Aires to finish the arrangements for the space to run the event and the supplies needed for the event. I worked as the main contact for the university and dealt with all the paperwork; being the largest university in Argentina, there is a lot of paperwork for everything. An interesting institutional plus this year is that the Faculty of Science and Department of Computer Science of Universidad de Buenos Aires declared officially the BSDday as an Event of Interest. Simultaneously, Hernan Constante and Matias Celani were coordinating accommodations for one of the speakers who traveled from Mar del Plata and making arrangements to have food & coffee for the event. Thanks for their help and also to Alejandro Lazaro who was helping in all he could remotely since he also moved out of Buenos Aires.
The quantity of proposals for talks received this year was about half the usual. We contacted previous speakers for feedback and we decided to include discussion spaces to find out why and how we can make it better for next year. On August 9th, a few minutes before the event started, the first speaker had family emergency. We decided to delay the opening talk and use the time for a first open discussion about the event and its future. The attendance was the lowest ever, so we focused the first discussion space on this topic. It appears to be a consensus that August is not a good month for the conference, because of the power outages in Buenos Aires in summer. From previous years, we knew that November is not good either. Another apparent reason is the break in continuity of the event (in 2013). Everyone in the room actively participated in the open discussion spaces. We noticed from discussions that the demographics of the event had changed. This time, we had a group of desktop users, mostly from FreeBSD, while in previous years we had mostly sysadmins from OpenBSD working in large companies or ISPs.
After the discussion, I did the opening talk with the help of Hernan Constante. The talk was also open to discussion so it extended a little longer than programmed; lucky for us, having only 1 track, it didn’t affect the schedule much. The second talk was for 40 minutes, but was extended up to 2 hours and ended up in a different topic than the one it started with. We were tempted to stop it, but people were asking so many questions that we let it flow. We then had 4 more talks (including mine) and 2 more spaces for open discussion about anything-BSD where we collected opinions about the event, about BSD in Argentina, and the future of BSD advocacy actions. Since we didn’t have sponsors for the food/coffee/supplies, we asked if anyone wanted to contribute at the end of the event. We were glad to see that everyone in the room put in money and we almost covered every expense for the event in this way. After the event, about 90% of the people moved to the bar across the street to share some beers and we kept discussing until the bar closed and kicked us out.
The week after the event, I met again with some organisers to discuss ideas for next year and do some analysis of what happened this year. One week later, I met with some companies and professionals to check sponsoring possibilities for next year’s edition.
Last week, I collected and processed the materials we obtained from the event: videos, photos, and slides from every presentation. I still need to recover a few videos that we had to download to one of the organiser’s computer (who left the country before me). In the following weeks, we will upload the videos, slides and pictures and formally close this year’s event in order to start working for the 6th edition, expected to happen in 2016.
Once again, thank you very much to the FreeBSD Foundation for helping me with the expenses for this trip, to the University of Buenos Aires Faculty of Science and Computer Science department for giving us the space and support, to Hernan Constante, Alejandro Lazaro, Matias Celani, the speakers, and all those who helped to make this event possible once again.