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Finding the ideal Plone Conference location

December 6, 2011

This saturday, Karl Horak tried to find a good place for the Plone Conference, but by taking an weighted average of the location, he only found where the average Plone Conference is located. Which seems very cold and wet, and not ideal at all. I think his methodology can be improved on. The average place is not necessarily the ideal place.

If we look at where the conference has been located as an average of the attendance, we get this sort of graph for the the longitude:

We can see that the longitude makes no noticeable  difference. The latitude is a different story, though:

The two outliers are Washington and Bristol, and we can of course ignore them as statistical flukes. And then we get a linear formula for attendance as a function of latitude:

attendance = 400 + latitude in degrees * 1.1

So, the more easterly, the better. Being just on the edge of the international date line would then yield the best results with 598 attendants, but it will be hard to find a good conference location there. Instead I recommend New Zealand. But as east becomes west as an arbitrary location, there is a small risk that the cutoff point is not the international dateline, and that New Zealand is on the “negative” side, and yield only 195 attendants, but I find that unlikely. If we want to be on the safe side, we do need to go gradually east and see. As we like nice weather in the Plone community, good locations would be Cairo (434 attendees), Mogadishu (450 attendees) or if you want to take a bigger risk, The Maldives  with 480 attendees, or possibly 84, depending on where the cutoff is.

There is also a possibility that the function isn’t linear. It could for example be cubic, which would make the projected attendances wrong, but the conclusion should still be to go east, although the east cost of the US would work well too, with Florida in preference for weather. Or for that matter, Cuba.

Or it could be a cyclic function:

In this case the best latitudes would be 148W, 108W, 68W, 28W, 12E, 52E, 92E, 132E and 172E. That gives us the following desirable locations:

  • Anchorage, Alaska, US (149W)
  • Billings, Montana, US (108W)
  • La Paz, Bolivia (68W)
  • The Azores (28E-25E)
  • Tripoli, Libya (12E)
  • Tehran, Iran (51E)
  • Lhasa, Tibet (91E)
  • Vladivostok, Russia (131E)
  • Christchurch, New Zealand (173E)

What we do see here is that no matter what the function is, New Zealand would be a good bet, and therefore the inevitable conclusion is that there should be no call for proposals, we just you tell Tim Knapp to do the Plone Conference. Remember: Correlation *is* causation.

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7 Comments
  1. This is splendid. I can already see the “Plone Conference Planner” application that could work very well with Google Maps. I would also like an incorporated “Risk” slider, so if you really want to take a high risk then you pump up the slider and then the software predicts you the next conference location in a way that you get all the risk you desire.

  2. I suppose Iceland could be a contender as well. On the other hand, I’ve always wanted to visit Tibet. :-)

  3. I certainly like the idea for the next plone conference to take place in down under.
    That would be the first time the conference would be in the southern hemisphere.
    The location itself would be a great incentive to attend the conference.
    Although I prefer Auckland to Christchurch (better connections)

    Thinking of another venue ‘nearby’ I also would not rule out Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide).

    But is the attendance really a function of lat/lon or the price it takes to get there? Are there statistics of where the participants came from, so you can estimate how much the flight was? Is there a correlation between the price of transportation and attendance?

    This would be an approach of ruling out unacceptable locations.

    • I’m sure the price is important, and the latitude/longitude is completely irrelevant. And I’m sorry to say, Reyjkavik is on 22 degrees west… Not close enough to be ideal. :-)

  4. Lennart you should do some stand up :) Great post about choosing conference location!

  5. John Hren permalink

    Since we live in a 3D world, shouldn’t height work its way into the equation? Maybe Death Valley would be a good choice or possibly somewhere on Mt. Everest.

    • I think every single conference except Budapest has been in coastal cities, so probably not. :-) Good thinking though.

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