Dan Langille has spent a good part of the last twenty years on BSDCan. We’ve had other BSD conferences in the Western Hemisphere, but BSDCan is the most consistent. Covid interrupted it, but only because Dan coordinated with EuroBSDCon to have a single online conference in 2021.
This is a lot of work. Dan’s life has changed.
Dan is stepping back from organizing BSDCan. I am taking over coordinating 2024.
Note I did not say “running.” Running an international conference is a job best accomplished by a team. A large team. Dan set up BSDCan 2023 with himself and Adam Thompson, and ran it with assistance from Dru Lavigne and Warren Block in registration, and Patrick McEvoy and Andrew Fengler in streaming. I am not nearly that tough.
Instead, we have assembled a team of seventeen people to be the BSDCan 2024 Operations Team. Dan will become our source of knowledge, telling us who to talk to at the University of Ottawa and where to reliably get T-shirts locally and which caterers are most likely to cause indigestion. I am pleased that Adam, Dru, Warren, Patrick, and Andrew all cheerfully agreed to continue in their roles. (Adam’s work of coordinating travel and accommodations for the speakers will be split among a few folks, led by Adam.)
My entire job will be to coordinate the team, help them gather resources, and mediate conflicts between them. Every person on this list is motivated to make BSDCan 2024 happen, but even the best-intentioned folks can disagree. If required I’ll make final decisions, sure, but if my decision makes people unhappy, I have no doubt that the esteemed program committee will tell me I’m being an idiot. They have final say over the con, after all.
This means I need to be staunch on not doing anything myself–although I admit, I might make a call to the Diefenbunker to see how much it would cost to host the closing social event there, and to Pili Pili Chicken for a price quote to cater it. This is mostly for my peace of mind, however. Confirming it’s too expensive will put the idea to rest.
Organizing BSDCan with two folks is a monumental achievement. I have seventeen, which I consider barely adequate for a Redundant Array of Independent Dans. We’ll need folks to handle a variety of smaller tasks, from checking video times to hauling boxes. (If you haven’t hauled a box for the con staff, have you really been to BSDCan?) I intend to make use of the bsdcan-volunteers mailing list to gather those folks. Folks on our team can ask for specific help on that list, whether it be figuring out a balky database or showing up at 7AM opening day with a roll of duct tape and a cattle prod. (“Cattle prod? Really?” Hey, I don’t know the details. Knowing the details would get in the way of me doing my job. I trust the various team members to know what they need and to ask for it.)
One thing that the BSD community has historically excelled at is passing leadership from one generation to the next. BSDCan’s operations team will follow that example. We have old hands taking the lead on parts of BSDCan, but we have at least two people covering each responsibility and at least one of them should be comparatively young.
I don’t intend to coordinate BSDCan for more than a couple years. My goal is to set up a self-perpetuating structure, make sure it runs, and walk away. Normally, I wouldn’t take on anything like this, but BSDCan is important to my people and it deserves my time and attention.
The BSDCan 2024 goal is to largely reimplement BSDCan 2023, but supported by different people. Yes, there’s room to change things. Yes, I have ideas. Many people have ideas. You probably have ideas. Our overwhelming goal is to make the conference happen. Perhaps that’s unambitious but extracting knowledge from Dan’s head, documenting it, and reimplementing it will take time and energy. I don’t want to burn anyone out. I intend to retain the location, the mask policy, the papers committee, the social event, everything, until we have BSDCan down cold.
Dan has done well. He’s earned a break.
We are drafting him to run the auction, however.