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ScalaMatsuri blog

This blog is about ScalaMatsuri preparation, and sponsored by Hatena, Inc.

A regional tech conference that's also global

Hi. This is @eed3si9n, one of the ScalaMatsuri staff. Supposedly I am a member of the Translation team, but I’m getting involved in anything interesting from planning to swag items.

Two major goals that I consider ScalaMatsuri 2016 has are:

  • Providing a space for Japanese Scala community to socialize, and present ideas to the international audience.
  • Making a global technical conference with the universal access, where people from various background such as languages, gender, or ethnicity, can be comfortable.

Of course part of the fun is planning the conference itself, thinking about these things. After last year’s conference I thought about those goals and wrote up a blog post towards universal access at a conference.

Today I want to talk about what we have been doing to make both regional and global conference, and introduce the background of the ideas presented in the “towards universal access” post, like the Code of Conduct, public CFP, and voting. The ideas themselves have been around, but getting them to materialize required many discussions on different parameters such as making sure that the conference is enjoyable to the attendees, leaving in the Japanese flavors, increasing more participants from overseas including nearby Asian countries, and improving the technical level of the conference.

What’s a harassment?

Most of us think of ourselves as the good guys. In a way, it could be similar to a method that thinks it should throw exception when something bad happens. In reality, such assumption could end up bothering others. For example, statements like “despite being a man|woman …” or “such and such country people are …” would be stereotyping, and would be considered discriminatory.

ScalaMatsuri has adopted a Code of Conduct since the last time, but this time we are explicitly forbidding asking other participants out (comments about appearance, romantic or sexual interest). You would think “there’s no way anyone would do this,” but there has been regular reports of harassments in the recent conferences including Scala related ones. We think there is an urgent need to specify the type to define a safe space for those who are unfamiliar with the general culture in Japan, do not interact with our community often, and especially female hackers from both Japan and overseas.

Please treat each other with respect as a hacker. Thanks for your cooperation.

Public CFP

In the past two conferences, the organizers have selected the invited speakers. The first has saw 4 members from Typesafe, and the second one had Martin Odersky as the keynote. As a method of further improving the technical level of the sessions, we are venturing into long-term public CFP, and providing maximum $2000 travel support.

The 40-minute English session in particular has total 32 session ideas. This level of competition would not have been possible with the conventional method through the organizers. Fortunately, we have many sponsors this year, so we will be able to fund the travel supports as planned. Thank you!

With the session candidates on both languages with such range and depth, the conference will be interesting with any of them selected. With professional interpreters on two halls, providing the translation both from English-Japanese, and Japanese-English, our hope is that we can learn from the talks this year.

Voting

As the mechanism of reflecting the opinions from the attendees we’ve adopted the voting to decide the sessions by the first round ticket purchasers, sponsors, and staff. This is also aimed to distribute the limited travel support fairly.

The session voting will start on October 16th, which the next day of CFP deadline, and the voting will close at 23:59pm of October 30th JST.

The voting rules are public at the CFP page.

  • The voting will be done for the following categories separately: 40-minute talks in English, 40-minute talks in Japanese, 15-minute talks in English, and 15-minute talks in Japanese.
  • We will try to select eight 40-minute talks and three 15-minute talks for both the languages. The number may vary depending on the travel budgets.
  • Two slots for 40-minute talks in Japanese will be reserved for Beginner talks. No reservation will be placed for English talks.
  • Only one session will be offered per person.

There a few variables that we tweaked in the above rules. One of them was setting the language ratio of the winners to 1:1. As of today, there are way more applicants on the English-speaking side, but there is a finite limit on the travel budget; majority of the conference participants would be from Japan; and we would like leave in some regional flavors. In the end, we settle with 1:1, which means 8 slots each for 40 minutes sessions, and 3 slots each for the 15-minute sessions.

Starting this CFP, we started asking the speakers of the sessions intended audiences (beginner, intermediate, and advanced). Likely most of the speakers and participants from oversea is going to be intermediate and above, but there will be beginner participants from the domestic side. We wanted to have some numbers of session in Japanese that do not require prior knowledge, so we are making two fixed beginner slots for the 40-minute sessions in Japanese.

After voting is done, the sessions will be selected provisionally in the order of the gained votes, but the travel support will be given out from the speakers with the most votes, so the final result may not reflect the number of votes, and we will not know the language ratio until the end.

CFP translations

Since we would like both English and Japanese speakers to vote on both the English and Japanese sessions, the on-going task that’s happening is CFP translations. The translation team translates the title and the abstract of all 58 submitted sessions into Japanese if the original was in English, and to English if the original was in Japanese.

Many of the conference talks and computer science in general is filled with catchy titles like “dining philosophers” and “scrap your boilerplate” with requires a rich sense of the language. The translation team tries to keep the playfulness even when the topic is serious.

Ideas to make ScalaMatsuri more fun

Your sessions are the main contents of ScalaMatsuri. If you have an idea of “I want go to such and such kind of conference” or “I want to hear somesuch sessions” please tweet with #scalamatsuri, or submit your talk by October 15th 00:00 JST.

There will also be an unconference on day 2. You can propose a topic on the spot to do a round table. Or start hacking on a program for a surprising demo. The contents of the conference is determined by you on the day. Since the venue will have many rooms, day 2 should accommodate more nerdy topics, so start thinking about them.