Sunday, October 26, 2008

ORF 2009


Yes, we are already planning for next year - although I may not do this one. But, at least I can get it started... For next year we will have to change things a bit. Here are some ideas floating around.

Finances: First is that the attendance fee will have to be be $300 minimum but probably more like $500 for all three days. I can't see that the attendance charge will mean much since the local folks didn't come anyway (not many) and another $500 for those who did stay at the hotel will be just under what the hotel room itself costs. And we'll have to negotiate the coffee expense next year: $68 per gallon for Starbucks is outrageous since that comes out to a bit over $3 per 6-ounce cup of coffee. Starbucks is good but...

Speakers: We probably should pay them about $1,000 each honorarium to help with their time and expenses. I'm not sure that we can get Dr. Forgy, Gary Riley and some of the others back next year unless we have something like that. Without them as a drawing card I seriously doubt that there can even be an ORF 2009. Also, we need to get John Zachman to come and be one of the keynote speakers. (No more managers as speakers - not even for keynotes!!) Yes, that will run the cost of the conference up by about $30K but it should return its value in the quality of speakers.

Speakers Per Vendor: Only one per vendor-sponsored per day. Period. EOL. Even with two or three tracks.

Vendor-sponsored lunch: If the Lunch period is two hours each day then we could have three vendor presentations (which would not count as a regular presentation) and a free lunch for attendees. The vendors (only the Platinum ones) would be allowed to also present a full-blown demo during lunch for about an hour. I'm sure that we would have lots of folks who would attend a demo for a really good (free) lunch, right? :-)

Time Allowed for presentations: Maybe the presentations should be 1.5 hours each with a 15 minute break in between. That will leave about 20 minutes for Q&A time plus some time in between to allow setups. That means two in the morning if we start at 8:30 and three in the afternoon for a total of only 15 presentations. BUT, if we have two tracks then we will have 30 talks available. Just some thoughts - comments are encouraged and welcome.

Talks: ALL presentation will HAVE to be submitted en toto not later than June 1, 2009, before approval and publication. We got sandbagged this year by some abstracts that said one thing and the talk that floated in the week before the conference was quite something else. Talks will have to be in two formats; one is the traditional PPT or PDF but the other will be a "White Paper" suitable for publication. Also, we should have an approval board that is completely independent of the conference that will approve all talks - meaning that the talks will now be juried presentations and suitable for publication as a booklet or a book after the conference is over.

Location: We need some feedback on the hotel. Most seemed to think that it was OK but could be better. Also, maybe next year we could do this in San Antonio on the River Walk near the original Alamo. San Antonio is also just about 5 miles south of a VERY large German community. Or Austin which is just north of the German Community. Hawaii or The French Rivera would be nice too but we would have to raise the price to $1,500.

Logo: If we have it in France, then the ORF logo could be emblazoned on "an itsy bitsy, teeny weeny, yellow, polka-dot bikini" and we would have the ORF-Dog logo on 1-liter steins, coffee mugs and T-Shirts. :-)

Time of Conference: I still like having it the week before BR Forum BUT it has to be in late October when it finally gets cool here in Texas. Geeks at ours, Business guys at theirs. And, hopefully, they will meet up at their various companies when they get home. If we have it in France, then maybe late Summer. (Yes, I really was serious about that.)

Something that we had not considered is having memberships (stock ownership) for sale that would help to sponsor all of the events. If each share costs $1,000 and each share had one vote then that would follow good accounting principles.

Anyway, just some thoughts... let me know what you think.



Paul Vincent said...

James - why not co-locate with BRForum / EDM and RuleMarkup conference/workshops?

James Owen said...


I'm not sure that Ron Ross et cie would appreciate us co-locating with him. The word that I got back from those attending is that he blames us for the decrease in attendance. Meaning that attendance has dropped over the past few years but this year it's out fault.

And, the problem is, the geeks at our meeting would NEVER have attended his meeting. BRF turned down my talk as being too technical and, besides, we (KBSC) are not a sponsor. He turned down Drools until they became a sponsor. That is NOT the way to encourage some of the really brilliant minds to attend.

Our speakers were NOT tied to sponsorship. FIC was a speaker LONG before they became a sponsor at the last minute. ILOG did not sponsor at all. Neither did most of the speakers - but we encouraged them to come and talk.

ORF 2009 will be either Fort Worth, Dallas, San Antonio or Austin. The other locations being considered right now are Southern France, London, Paris, Munich or somewhere not too cold in October. If we do this in Munich it will be the first week in October, just after October Fest, so that the attendees can attend October Fest before the conference and then go skiing after October Fest. The problem with Europe is that most hotels are not set up for a conference so we are limited on which hotel to pick and choose.

If Ron would let ORF have a separate track it might work out, but I doubt that he would pay us to be there. I'll think about it and maybe he will call and let me know. Maybe... :-)


Mark Proctor said...

"He turned down Drools until they became a sponsor. That is NOT the way to encourage some of the really brilliant minds to attend."

They turned down myself talking, unless Red Hat sponsored, although they did say that an end user could do a talk. But we didn't have budget at the time. I was a bit annoyed at first, but Paul put things into context for me, so I was ok with it.

Since then Red Hat has bought bronze sponsorship, but this does not get you a full talking slot, as you need silver or above. Instead I have a one off "new comers" 20 minute talk at lunch time. But hey, I'll take what I'm given :)

James Owen said...

Mark & Paul:

When talks are tied to sponsorship levels then something is dreadfully wrong with the industry. Sponsorships should be to help put on an event, not to guarantee a talking spot. To tie a talking spot time with the amount of the sponsorship is carrying a conference to the level of Las Vegas bordellos. Perhaps they should locate their conference in Las Vegas - that's one of the few places in the USA where prostitution is legal.


Paul Vincent said...

"Perhaps they should locate their conference in Las Vegas"

Funnily enough...

Actually there is a lot of merit IMHO in having ORF09 alongside BRF09 and RuleMarkup09 as a separate track. Of course, like any conference, the papers at BRF are highly variable. And yes it is a commercial event. And yes, probably they should have things like a standard format for describing customer use cases to minimize hype (like we do in EPTS).

But if ORF is going to be a $500 event, I fear its going to be difficult to attract attendees, and thence sponsors. Hope I'm wrong.


James Owen said...

Tall Paul:

I could see RuleML co-hosting at either BR Forum or at ORF, but I cannot see ORF being in the same building with BRF. Why?

October Rules Fest is far heavier on theory and academic (not college stuff - real research stuff) than either of the other two. Right now we have a single track that keeps everyone on the same page and exposes everyone to the same material. I don't favor having two or three track BECAUSE the attendee might want to go to more than one event at the same time.

The integration of Zachman Framework with rules and the integration of the Rete algorithm with rules and the overview rules with EDM is critical to everyone - and, truthfully, most of those attending have no idea what they need nor want. They pretty much are throwing darts - which is exactly what I did at the BR Forum the few times that I did attend.

For the real geeks (er, knowledge engineers) we could probably have a one-day session with Gary Riley, Mark Proctor, Dr. Forgy, Paul Haley, Dr. Ernest Friedman-Hil, John Zachman and Carlos Serrano-Morales. That should cover most of the "biggies" and, even though it would be a really long day, we could do it.

But most attendees at ORF 2008 had no idea how rules fit into an enterprise nor how they actually worked under the covers. Most of the rule vendors had no idea how the Rete algorithm was supposed to work. They know only their own implementation of the Rete Algorithm and what they have done to make it faster.

If someone else takes over they will probably make it look more like BR Forum or RuleML conference just so that the attendees get "warm fuzzies." My intent is that they actually LEARN something to take home with them. And from the response after the conference the attendees wanted MORE meat (more code, more applications, more real-world, more theory) than we gave them.

Next year, God willing, we will give them what they want and let the chips fall where they may. ORF 2009 should be a cut above ORF 2008 - meaning more of the geeky stuff and less of the marketing stuff. We might have a separate track for CBP, CEP and ANN - just to keep everyone on their toes. Or not... :-)


Mark Proctor said...

"I could see RuleML co-hosting at either BR Forum or at ORF"

Actually that's not a bad idea, an engineering track to run along side the academic track.

Mark Proctor said...

"RuleML conference just so that the attendees get "warm fuzzies.""

To be fair RuleML isn't about warm fizzies, it's strictly academic which means it's mostly students presenting the results of their thesis' work. Then there is the "challenge" which is lots of 20 minute presentations designed to show novel and interesting uses for a rule engine, ideally with some aspect of interoperability. There is almost nothing commercial at RuleML - in fact I'd say that JBoss Drools is probably the only entity doing any commercial marketing slant there.

James Owen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Owen said...

Mark et al:

Rant Begin:

Keeping things in context: "warm fuzzies" was talking about someone else taking over ORF and making it more like BRF - it had nothing to do with RuleML. I have LONG maintained that you learn very little at a monthly DRG or Java MUG meeting other than getting a "warm fuzzy" that you are doing some kind of continuing education. Most conferences are just three to five days of the same thing - attendees go to meetings and leave feeling that tjeu have learned something. They haven't. It's a mental "feel good about myself" feeling.

Going to a vendor-sponsored school for three to five days is one step better than a three to five day conference. But not by much. It's still just a warm fuzzy UNLESS you MAKE them teach you something. After all, you're paying close to $5K for a 5-day school. I have been to lots and lots of company paid vendor classes - they're all crap! But, the company wanted me to go and they paid my way so off I went for another wasted week. I learn more from the vendor manuals (IF they are properly written) than from hanging out with guys who are not consultants but just instructors. If the guy teaching was a decent consultant he would be out making money for the company not teaching a bunch of ding-dongs.

Where CAN you learn this stuff? ONLY if you have a teacher who is a real expert in the field and doesn't care two cents about your feelings - he/she will present the material and if you are smart enough to ask questions and learn then so be it. If you sit and just try to absorb by osmosis, you get a "warm fuzzy" but nothing else.

AND, there should be NO diploma unless you can actually pass an exit exam at the end. A REAL exit exam, not something that is cheatable like so many are today. Much like "real" certification and NOT like the stuff that Sun Corp does for certification. Admittedly, what Sun started was good - but now everyone studies for the test. I have actually seen a business guy with NO, repeat NO, programming experience study for one week and pass the exam.

Finally, co-hosting with RuleML would be OK, but I'm more of a single-track kind of person. Also, RuleML is stuck with BRF right now so maybe we'll be able to work out something and maybe not. But I will give it the old college try.

:End of Rant