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Re: [802SEC] Status on Whitespace Electronic Participation Experiment (Update 2)

G'day jl
You are absolutely correct that the current generation of remote collaboration tools are not yet good enough or affordable enough for meetings of 50+ active participants, although they are getting much closer. I am not suggesting we replace such meetings with remote tools, not yet anyway. I am also not suggesting we ever replace all F2F meetings with such tools because human contact adds a dimension that is difficult to replace, particularly when people are from different organisations.
However, It is worth noting that although some of the F2F sessions in 802.11 have 50+ people in the room, typically only 10+ are active. Indeed, many of the F2F sessions currently have less than 20 in the room, with 2-3 participating at any one time 
What I would say is that many of these technical meetings could be held using remote collaboration tools, and yet we mostly restrict ourselves to F2F meetings (with all the associated human and financial costs) and straight teleconferences (without the tools). We should at least be starting to experiment with remote collaboration tools instead of teleconferences so that we can start learning how to use them to replace some F2F meetings (or not).
You noted that recessions are part of the natural business cycle. Unfortunate but true. However, in past recessions we had fewer viable alternatives to F2F meetings. Now we do, and it is incumbent on the leaders and participants of all SDO's to explore new modes of operation, using the recession as a motivator. I would also note that other, relatively successful SDO's operate with far fewer F2F meetings; the IETF comes to mind.
BTW I live in Australia, and regularly use a simple camera to supplement my teleconferences with colleagues in the US (one on one). It is my view that the camera improves the quality of the communication and the feeling of belonging to a team significantly. The only downside is that I can no longer participate in teleconferences in my PJ's ;)


From: J Lemon [] 
Sent: Wednesday, 28 January 2009 9:35 AM
To: Andrew Myles (amyles)
Subject: Re: [802SEC] Status on Whitespace Electronic Participation Experiment (Update 2)


I do not agree that "[w]e have now reached the point where the various remote collaboration tools are workable". For meetings with only a few participants, affordable* remote collaboration tools (RCTs) may be "workable", but they are extremely poor cousins to being co-present. For the size of all but a couple of the 802 WGs, RCTs do not even approach being "workable", much less "useful".

I don't see the current recession as reason to adopt such significantly sub-par tools. Most of us on this discussion are old enough that we've gone through several recessions, in which we've seen companies pull back from some standards work, and seen companies go out of business. But, the standards process has continued fairly well unimpeded. Yes, it's too bad that some people's talents and experience are lost as a result, but this is an unfortunate fact of business life. As painful as recessions are to individual people and individual companies, such disruptions of the status quo lead to new innovations, serving the greater good. Those standards that support the continued and new directions, go forward.


* If one could afford Cisco's TelePresence, I understand from friends who have used it, that it really is useful. But, the tools being discussed for our use are three orders of magnitude lower in cost, and perhaps three orders of magnitude lower in usefulness.

On 1/27/2009 12:33 PM, Andrew Myles (amyles) wrote: 

	G'day all, 
	Many years ago, we shuffled pieces of paper around the room at standards meetings and signed up by looking for a balloon. Since then technology, such as PC's, LCD's, WLANs, document databases, attendance software, etc, has mostly improved the efficiency of our standards development operations.
		As an aside: at the the 802.11 interim meeting in Cairns some years ago the link to the internet was unusable during sessions (it was a single ADSL line). It was interesting that there was far more focus on the material being presented and less on e-mail and the web. It almost inspired me to ask that we turn the external link off during sessions ;)
	We have a responsibility to look for ways to use technology to improve the way we do things even more. We have now reached the point where the various remote collaboration tools are workable, certainly for smaller groups of people and increasingly for larger groups of people. It is inevitable that they will begin to replace many F2F meetings in the future.
	The only open question is when we start taking advantage of these new tools. Given the current economic environment and the severe pressure on travel budgets, now seems like a perfect time to start the experimentation process, with the goal of eventually reducing the number of F2F meetings. If we don't, we might find that our standards suffer anyway because many key stakeholders are not allowed to attend F2F meetings. We are already starting to see a trend with attendance at many SDO's down by 30-50%.
	The White Space SG is a great opportunity to evaluate the tools and understand better where they work well, how they can be refined, and how we can change the way we do things to make best use of them. I suspect he have discovered a hybrid meeting does not work very well because of the asymmetry between remote and on-site attendees.
	The failings of White Space SG does not mean a fully remote meetings will not work. In fact, I suspect they can work better than F2F meetings in many respects. They certainly mean less wasted time in planes and hotels. They can also be more flexibly scheduled and be more focused on the technical work.
	One problem they do not solve is time zones, meaning many participants will need to learn to work at ungodly hours of the day and night. Fully remote meetings are also not ideal for consensus building. There is nothing like pressing the flesh and waving your arms around to get agreement from individuals and groups of people. For this reason there is a good reason for F2F meetings in the future, but maybe not so many of them.
	At the final session of the 802.11 WG last week, I made a motion:
		The 802.11 WG requests the WG Chair to investigate new modes of WG operation, including the possible cancellation of future interim sessions and an increased use of remote collaboration tools.
		Any transition to the new mode of operation should be possible in a way that is financially responsible and that allows the WG to continue to develop high quality standards 
	The motion failed 11/28. I did not expect the idea of cancelling interim meetings to be very popular. However, I was very disappointed that merely investigating the possibility generated so much angst. One possibility is that the people who would have voted "yes" were not in the room because they either had to leave early to save costs or were not allowed to attend at all, whereas the people in the room are the ones that are "invested" in the status quo. Admittedly some voted "no" because they did not think the WG should direct the Chair to do something that is already within the scope of his duties.
	Bruce Kraemer has stated that he is going to investigate the options anyway, despite the failed motion. That is the right thing to do. A number of  areas need investigation, including
	*	Can currently scheduled interim meetings be cancelled in such a way that the financial impact is minimised?
	*	Should we schedule any further interim meetings?
	*	Do we need to change the voting and attendance rules to allow increased use of remote meetings?
	*	How should we handle the "time zone" issue for remote meetings, given we claim to be "international"?
	*	What tools are appropriate, and how could they be refined?
	*	How can the tools be financed?
	*	...
	Bruce should be congratulated for taking up this issue on behalf of the 802.11 WG. However, ExCom also needs to consider these issues too. A good first step would be to agree to the principle that we are heading for a time where F2F meetings will be less frequent than today
	Andrew Myles
	-----Original Message-----
	From: [] On Behalf Of Tony Jeffree
	Sent: Tuesday, 27 January 2009 9:31 PM
	Subject: Re: [802SEC] Status on Whitespace Electronic Participation Experiment (Update 2)
	Bob -
	I don't think the two situations are *at all* comparable, other than at the trivial level of both involving the use of new technology. (And just for the record, I was in favour of the use of LCD's; the technology introduction that I recall being most controversial was the introduction of LANs at our meetings, and personally, I think the jury is still out on whether that has improved the quality of our meetings, or whether it has simply allowed us to while away the time doing solitaire or reading emails while we freeze our butts in chilly meeting rooms).
	The big difference with electronic participation is that, as you point out in your post, it only works effectively (under some definition of effectively) if you reduce the whole meeting to the lowest common denominator, i.e., handicap all of the participants with the restrictions that the technology imposes. Otherwise, you create 2 classes of participation, with all of the problems that that will inevitably involve. At that point, you may as well abandon face to face meetings altogether and go entirely electronic; while that may be attractive in the current economic climate, I believe it would considerably reduce the quality of our meetings.
	-----Original Message-----
	From: ***** IEEE 802 Executive Committee List ***** [] On Behalf Of Bob O'Hara
	Sent: 27 January 2009 08:14
	Subject: Re: [802SEC] Status on Whitespace Electronic Participation Experiment (Update 2)
	This discussion gives me a curious sense of déjà vu.  It seems that I heard many of these same refrains when digital projectors were first being used in our meetings.  There was a lot of time wasted as presenters tried to get their computers to talk to the projectors.
	Chairs and secretaries had to juggle things on their screens whenever they needed to use the projector for a presentation.  *sigh*  I'm sure glad we decided not to adopt that terrible technology in our meetings.
	I think that the limitations of the electronic participation technology should be recognized and that technology utilized for what it does best, allowing more people to participate in the standardization process, making our process more open and transparent.
	It accomplishes this by making it possible for people to at least observe the process without the expense of travel and lodging required for in-person participation.
	Using this technology might require a bit of, dare I say it, "change" by the people that are physically present, e.g., all presenters must present through the electronic participation software, using the pointing tools (no laser pointers) in the application so that remote participants get the most information possible from the meeting.  This begins to familiarize everyone with the application, making use of it mostly as a "delivery-only"
	mechanism. As more people become familiar with it, the tool will become second nature, just like those infernal digital projectors.
	The next steps would require some careful thought and planning, opening the feedback channel from remote participants to allow for questions and comments and perfecting the process for conducting straw polls of all participants (both physically present and remote).  Should this prove to be viable, it would seem that all the tools would be in place for a completely virtual meeting, no longer discriminating between those in one physical location and those in any other physical location.  This final step would need very careful consideration of what it means to be a "member" and how that membership is defined, obtained, and retained.  At that future point, the question of membership might become "should membership be defined by the amount of time an individual spends numbing their butt in a particular chilly conference room in a designated city, or should it be defined by something more constructive to the process of developing a standard?".
	It seems to me that opening our process to more participants would be a good thing, to be sought out and worked on.

		-----Original Message-----
		From: ***** IEEE 802 Executive Committee List ***** [mailto:STDS-802-] On Behalf Of Tony Jeffree
		Sent: Monday, January 26, 2009 11:20 PM
		Subject: Re: [802SEC] Status on Whitespace Electronic Participation
		Experiment (Update 2)
		I agree. As far as I can tell, this experiment has simply confirmed to
		me that it is inappropriate to use a mix of electronic and F2F
		participation in the same meeting, other than in very limited
		-----Original Message-----
		From: ***** IEEE 802 Executive Committee List ***** [mailto:STDS-802-] On Behalf Of Geoff Thompson
		Sent: 26 January 2009 05:44
		Subject: Re: [802SEC] Status on Whitespace Electronic Participation
		Experiment (Update 2)
		My opinion remains.
		The best that can be hoped for with remote participation at this level
		of tools is somewhat handicapped observation.
		Doing presentations from afar is pretty ineffective, if not hopeless
		in terms of convincing a body of people in a room about something,
		much less entering into a true interactive discussion.
		At 08:48 PM 1/25/2009 , Sherman, Matthew J. (US SSA) wrote:
		EC and Whitespace Members,
		I just wanted to give some feedback on the experiment.  It closed out
		on Thursday, but given my redeye flight and other commitments I
		haven't been able to report out till now.
		Overall, Thursday wasn't much different then Wednesday.  The basic
		teleconference and webex presentation facilities worked well.
		Occasionally people needed slight reminders to talk louder, etc.  But it was very workable.
		Things got a bit flustered when a participant made a couple of
		surprise motions.  Per prior agreement, the webex participants were
		not allowed to vote.  So we had traditional hand votes which went fine
		but required a little explanation to the electronic participants.
		The one clear failure in the experiment was the polling facility.  We
		tried it Wednesday, and had operating difficulties.  We tried it again
		Thursday for strawpolls to collect data for the experiment.  Again we
		were caught by the need to change presenters and who was projecting,
		etc.  It is very cumbersome if you don't keep all that interaction on
		one machine.  We got farther along this time.  We pre-prepared the
		polling questions, and actually did launch the polls.  Unfortunately
		the questions had not been saved properly and there was an error in
		one of the questions.  Also, we invited all the in-room participants
		to take the stawpoll via the webex.  This did not work well at all. 
		Some participants were still unsure of how to get into the webex. 
		Others started the process, but required downloads that were going to
		take '40 minutes'.  In the end, we were only able to collect partial
		data, so I feel it better to just call the poll invalid, and run the
		stawpolls again to collect the data.  I will give participants the
		option of doing it electronically on the next call, or in written form.
		I will provide a more formal slide set to the EC for the March
		meetings. My personal view is that electronic participation is very
		workable for teleconference and presentations, but the polling
		facility needs no work.  I'd like to have an electronic voting
		capability at meetings anyway, so in my opinion the next experiment
		should be to try out a web based voting system that could be accessed
		from inside and outside of the meeting.  I don't think I have the time
		to purse this in the near future.  I do believe that any formal
		electronic participation at interims will require payment of
		attendance fees, so we'd need to establish a way of doing that as
		well.  Obviously much more discussion is required prior to us formally allowing this (if at all).
		Best regards,
		Matthew Sherman
		Chair, IEEE802 Whitespace ECSG
		BAE Systems -  Network Systems (NS)
		Office: +1 973.633.6344
		Cell: +1 973.229.9520
		<> <> 
		From: Sherman, Matthew J. (US SSA)
		Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 11:21 AM
		Subject: RE: Status on Whitespace Electronic Participation Experiment
		(Update 1)
		EC and Whitespace Members:
		Here is a quick update on the Electronic Participation Experiment.
		Yesterday was a smaller crowd.  I estimate 60 in the room (there was
		flux and not everyone registers attendance), and 16 on the webex.  We
		tried to run things less formally to see what would happen.  There
		were a couple of hiccups with one or two individuals on the
		teleconference forgetting the established etiquettes and ultimately
		requiring reminders.  But it was not particularly disruptive.  I would
		say most of the meeting went smoothly.  I felt it moved a little
		faster than the prior day by that is very subjective and other might not agree.
		We completed our agenda a bit early and went to experiment with the
		electronic stawpolls.  We had a problem in that I had to be presenter
		rather than Steve to compose the stawpolls. In retrospect I probably
		should have ask Steve to compose them.  When I did take control of the
		presentations on my PC, I needed to project the screen for the room as
		well, and that caused my screen format to change which prevented me
		from finding some of the buttons I needed. So I couldn't set up the
		stawpolls.  Eventually I figured out that when I disconnect the
		projector from my computer I can find all the right buttons and
		compose the poll.  By the time I got the poll composed, at least one
		individual had gone to the mike and complained that this was a waste
		of people's time and money.  I don't recall if the person was
		referring to the nature of the question being polled, or the general
		process itself (I think he was mostly objecting to the question being polled).
		Regardless, the polling did not go smoothly.
		We will attempt the polling process again today and be better prepared.
		Yesterday was a good warm-up!
		Matthew Sherman
		Chair, IEEE802 Whitespace ECSG
		BAE Systems -  Network Systems (NS)
		Office: +1 973.633.6344
		Cell: +1 973.229.9520
		<> <> 
		From: Sherman, Matthew J. (US SSA)
		Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 12:58 AM
		Subject: [WHITESPACE] Status on Whitespace Electronic Participation
		EC and Whitespace Members,
		The electronic participation experiment is not over yet.  It will be
		running for two more days but here are some early observations.
		Overall I felt one participant best summed it up saying 'it works, but
		the pace is that of a large meeting with a couple of hundred people'. 
		I agreed with this opinion, but others may feel differently.  We were
		able to make study progress, but it felt like we were in a larger
		802.11 or
		802.16 session.  In actuality we had about 90 people in the room and
		20 on the webex.
		The hybrid device which allows the phone line to couple to the PA
		system and vice versa I feel is essential for any large in-person
		meeting.  It seems to generally work well.  Installing it wasn't very
		difficult, but I did need to request some cables from the hotels A/V
		staff to get it plugged in.  We had some initial leveling problems
		when we started the meeting today.  I believe these were all resolved
		within about 15 minutes and hope to have no start up issues when we start tomorrow.
		It was strongly recommended that we use Microphones with switches on
		them.  I did try everything out last night and requested the hotel
		staff to switch out the mikes in the room (which had no switches) with
		mikes that did.  This was slightly problematic since they don't
		normally use mikes with switches, but they eventually found a couple
		of older mikes with switches that worked fine.  In the end, we left
		the mikes on all the time.  There did not seem to be a need to switch them on and off.
		But since different hotels will have different equipment, it might not
		be a bad idea in general.
		Steve Shellhammer chaired the meeting, and I focused on making sure
		the electronic participation ran as smoothly as possible. 
		Unfortunately, Steve and I weren't quite prepared enough.  We had some
		connectivity problems that had nothing to do with the experiment, and
		we had to switch rolls a couple of times so I could present documents. 
		This was a bit awkward with us occasionally having the wrong screen
		projected, and some dead time while we switched roles.  It wasn't a
		show killer, but it make for some slightly awkward moments.  We
		understand the issues a little better now, so we should be better
		prepared for tomorrow.  My take away was that we don't really need two people to run the show.
		Rather we need one person with two screens.  There is too much info to
		monitor it all on a single screen, but it isn't really that bad to
		monitor if you have two screens.  I started monitoring both Steve's
		screen and mine, and it didn't seem that hard to follow the
		presentations and still monitor the webex.  However, I only have one
		screen on my computer right now (no one seems to have brought a spare
		monitor) so I can't try running the show from a single computer.
		We did not get a chance to run any straw polls today, but we will
		tomorrow.  Also, the room we are in only has bandwidth (and seating)
		provisioned for 75 people, and we were close to 100 at points.  I
		wanted to pull everyone in the room onto the webex to see what would
		happen to the network but not everyone had access to the webex info,
		so we didn't try.  I will post it more widely for tomorrow.
		Overall, we had one presenter who was fully remote.  While they
		couldn't always get feedback from the crowd, overall I felt the
		presentation went well.  It was very interactive, with dialogue from
		both the floor and the webex.  We did some local presentations with
		substantial dialogue across the webex and from the floor and that
		worked well too.  Everyone on the webex did a great job of sticking
		with the etiquettes we established.  We used the chat window to
		request the floor, and it worked very well.  A number of participants
		would send private messages to me.  This was a bit un-nerving since
		you wanted to respond privately but were always a little concerned
		you'd accidently broadcast to everyone.  Not that anything really need
		to be private, so in generally I'd encourage everyone to use the
		public chat and only send private messages when absolutely necessary.
		So we aren't done yet, but we seemed to have survived the first day
		okay.  I'll provide incremental feedback as we go.
		Regards to all,
		Matthew Sherman, Ph.D.
		Engineering Fellow
		BAE Systems -  Network Systems (NS)
		Office: +1 973.633.6344
		Cell: +1 973.229.9520
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