Posted by: Mark Fontecchio
Several prominent members of the System i community who usually give some of the best received presentations at COMMON user group meetings will not be doing that anymore, at least for the foreseeable future.
Jon Paris, Susan Gantner and Paul Tuohy are among the list of people who will pass on presenting at the COMMON show in Orlando next May. It is clear that COMMON’s recent cutbacks will have substantial effects on the look and feel of the show. Perhaps the biggest cut of all is COMMON’s decision to reduce compensation to volunteer speakers — whether that be in the form of a free registration, paying for travel and hotel, or other expenses. It certainly was one of the major factors that led to Paris’s and Ganter’s decision:
Had it not been for the need to examine our participation from a financial perspective, we would probably have continued on autopilot, delivering sessions along with our other volunteer duties, as we’ve done every time a COMMON conference rolled around. Being forced to think about whether we could afford to do that next year also caused us to think about why we were doing it in the first place and whether the time, money and energy we’ve been donating to COMMON represent the best way for us to help the community.
This weekend we found ourselves at the moment of truth, wrestling with the decision to either accept or decline our sessions that had been selected for the spring conference. We concluded that we still wanted to support the idea of COMMON, but increasingly it became apparent that the COMMON we wanted to support was an idealized organization that existed only in our minds. We had hoped the old COMMON could return and we worked with many other volunteers to make that a reality, but for whatever reasons COMMON’s direction seems to be set. For the time being we’ll remain members of COMMON and hope that things will change.
Paris and Gantner added that they won’t, by any means, just disappear from the System i landscape. They just plan to put their efforts into other System i educational and social endeavors, among them the Young i Professionals, iManifest, and local System i user groups.
Even those continuing to participate in COMMON shows realize the problems with the user group’s cutbacks to volunteers. Scott Klement, for example, will be going because Systemi Network is paying for him. But he said that he’s “not happy with COMMON’s attitude towards its volunteers, and (he) sincerely hope(s) they re-think their direction.”
Oh, I think that Jon and Susan are the tip of the iceberg of what’s to come not only from a presenter standpoint but from an attendee standpoint. And as much as I like Jon and Susan and as super as thier presentations are, I find it hard to believe that there’s NOBODY else out there that can do presentations on RPG, ILE…etc… Yet, it was absolutely shocking to find that there were NO sessions on RPG, ILE, CL or any of the other traditional “AS/400″ languages offered at IBM’s tech conf this past September.And if COMMON continues to capitulate to IBM’s demands that it become a AIX user group, it will also go the way of User Blue – even though User Blue had alot of help in its demise from SHARE, IMHO.