2020 Retreat COVID-19 Impact on the IETF working model

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List pulled from slides

  • covid-19 impacting effectiveness
  • covid-19 effect on internet scaling / use
  • decreasing funding from economic downturn
  • impact of virtual-only work
  • travel restrictions
  • increase in nationalism may lead to less interoperability desire
  • Remote chatham house
  • not the only org going through these things, we have liason relationships that may change
    • we already have a reputation for being slow

Summary of the discussion

We met early Thursday morning. Our discussion centered around things related to Covid19 that affected the IETF working model that were likely in the purview of the IAB's possibly chance to change things. Other areas that were outside the IAB's potential scope of influence, especially those topics within scope of the IESG were discussed a bit less.

Mood: we're in the grieving stage

Jari pointed out that the IETF as a whole is likely still in grieving stage of loss. We need to eventually transition to more hopeful and productive moods. It's unclear if newer members are grieving or just want to get back to work.


IAB Workshops

The largest change that directly affects the IAB is how we will hold workshops in the future. Because our workshops are short, often a day or two, it makes it hard to do a 2-day time-shifted workshop and have it be attended and effective. And shifting to a 2-hour workshop slot is not likely to be productive. Current interim working starting times end up balancing a narrow window in early morning silicon valley.

Long Term Changes to the IETF

We wondered what the longer term changes might be, and what might never return to normal. Would we ever return to a 3-conference a year model? Would the population of the remote attendees go up (stealing this question from another session)?

If we don't go back to regular model, how are we going to build a broader community relationship that is effective in getting people to work together and continue the culture of the IETF that generally allows for strong disagreements in sessions followed by pleasant un-work related conversations around the cookie table and at bars? Respect comes from a shared understanding of areas where you do agree, and not from the arguments where you don't.

In a similar vein, how do we bring in newcomers and get them involved in an effective way when they'll feel disconnected upon entry to a culture with many strong bonds already in place. How will this affect the critical mass of new work and participants?

What new efforts to running conferences will be needed to succeed with virtual meetings? Manycouches and similar need to thing hard to come up with new asynchronous working models. What old/new mechanisms can be used to replace productive in-person conversations. EG, mail, github issues, slack, etc.


Random Notes

Real Work (TM) tends to ignore the fact you're not supposed to be away and schedules you for regular work and meetings in addition to, say, the IAB retreat you'd normally be at.

Notes from the discussion

  • long term changes from this
    • are we ever going back to a 3-conference a year model
    • wg chairs changing the way they work
    • how are we going to build the broader community relationships (necessary for dispute resolution)
      • more about common goals
      • respect comes from shared understanding and common grounds, often over cookies and bars
    • what new processes do we need?
    • long term timezone issues
    • how do we bring in newcomers and get them involved?
    • how do we get critical mass for new work coming in?
    • shifting through the mass of traffic for the important parts?
  • impact on workshops
    • virtually?
    • the biggest thing we run that isn't in the IESG perview
    • unknown if it'll be worthwhile
    • 2-hours is too short
    • 2-days remotely is impossible
    • common timezones end up putting meetings in early AM silicon valley.
  • employer/jobs don't respect conference weeks
    • they try to make you do things at the same time
  • cost
    • question this week about fees charged and why would WGs schedule during a week if they have to pay fees.
  • asynchronous meetings are needed
    • mailing lists aren't working
      • used to be more effective
    • github probably isn't working as well
  • mood: we're in the grieving stage
    • "nothing can be done"
    • "it hurts"
    • need to transition to future stages
    • need to have hope
    • we're old timers attached to old ways
      • are new people grieving?
    • everyone (other SDOs) are surviving in the moment
    • is the long term health of the IETF in the purview of the IAB?
    • if we're not thinking about new work/long-term health of the people then we're missing the long term viability
  • benefits of remote work?
  • impact on volunteer-ism
    • a lot of the ietf running is based on volunteer work (everything not AMS)
      • network
      • newcomers
      • running meetings
    • is that viable going forward?
    • do we need to consider going to a more professionally run conference
  • ietf vs open source
    • open source: common goals
    • perspectives are broader with more view points
  • tools
    • email vs github/issues vs slack
    • slack users don't expect people to have read more than one page back
    • github/issues
    • short conversations are a feature not a bug
      • deliberate way of blocking people out and getting a small group of people to get work done in a rapid-fire issue that then gets closed
      • the impossibility of following a discussion is a feature
      • makes it hard for new people to get involved
    • common methodology is rotating tools on a regular basis
    • need tool management / professional staff to run them
    • tools create different advantages for some with the cost of a disadvantage for others
    • need to figure out what tools work best for async mode instead of synchronous mode
    • do virtual tools require multi-monitors?

Preliminary notes from participants

Wes's thoughts

  • Impacts on the lost of face-to-face meetings
    • hallway conversations
    • timezone management for wide discussions
    • loss of voices in discussions
  • Work effort slow down
    • look ma, no deadlines!
  • Attendance
  • Registration funding misalignment with expenditures needed?
  • The sudden importance of manycouches

csperkins

  • Rolling teleconferences always disadvantage someone, due to time zones. How to encourage effective asynchronous work?
  • Impact on the funding an organisational model as meetings become less important.
    • Difficult to charge large fees for an online IETF meeting if virtual interims are free, but the meeting fees subsidise secretariat costs
    • Are there alternative funding models that don't devolve to charging a membership fee or relying on corporate largesse?