Recently, we had two important free software conferences in Kerala. Both spent a lot of public money on invited talks , exhibitions and other related conference requirement. What is the benefit for general public from such conferences? A typical conference will have limited , say 500 delegates. In Kerala, the delegates are often chosen based on the political affiliation or whims and fancies of the organizers rather than merit. Will these conferences disseminate knowledge to the common man ? I doubt.
What is the remedy for this kind of situation? I think the remedy is already known to the free software community. OPENNESS in every aspect. Right from choosing the organizers to selecting delegates there must be transparency. It is the papers presented and transcripts of the discussions held that matters finally. The future generation will refer to the conference depending on the quality of papers. Good international conferences bring out bound volumes of its proceedings. Most of the conference papers are not free. Look at IEEE or ARRL. They have lot of knowledge available with them ,but they charge this knowledge . To an extent they are knowledge monopolies. We can call the papers with them as closed source papers.
Being free software community , we should bring out papers presented/ slides shown immediately after any conference. An abstract can be published even before the conference. The abstracts must be scrutinized by experts as well as members of the community. If you want to present a paper, some home work must be done. Google can detect cut and paste very well.:D
I was looking at fsfs.in website. It has some abstracts but no complete papers or slides. I request the organizers of fsfs.in to publish the papers/ slides presented. Let the public see how their money was spent.
PS .We can emulate Dr. APJ Abulkalam for this. He puts his speeches/papers online as soon as it is deliverd.