[REPOST] Eurosom 2

Bart De Pontieu (BDP@MPEPL)
Tue, 29 Oct 1996 20:40:36 +0100 (CET)

[I think a majority of SeeSat-L subscribers never got this message since the
mailserver fell over when I sent it on Sunday. Hence a repost]

Hi SeeSat-ers,

Neil Clifford has already given you a partial overview of what happened
at Eurosom 2 last weekend in Ghent, Belgium. I will add a little bit of
my thoughts, now that I've recuperated a bit from the exhaustion that had
me in its grips after I flew back to Munich on Thursday (yes, lifting that
overhead projector every 2 minutes during Paul's talk wore me down :-)

First off, I liked this edition of Eurosom more than the first
edition, two years ago in Genk, Belgium. One of the main reason why I liked
Eurosom 2 better was that the attendance was much more international
than before. With an attendance of 27 (Saturday) and 24 (Sunday); and
participants from the UK (4), USA (3), the Netherlands (3), Germany (2), 
France (2), Sweden (1), Canada (1) and Belgium (about 10). Many people
could finally allocate faces to names they had known only from e-mail 

Another reason why I liked Eurosom 2 was that the presentations were
generally well prepared and interesting, keeping a good mix between 
informal and research-oriented stuff. A special thanks to our invited 
speakers Bjoern Gimle, Paul Maley, Mike McCants and Jay Respler who gave 
a large fraction of the talks. We plan to publish proceedings of Eurosom
2 early 1997. They will appear both on paper and on WWW. Eurosom 2
attendants will receive the proceedings for free. Naturally, the contents
of some of the talks are hard to compile into an article, but the proceedings
will at least give the absentees an idea of what Eurosom 2 was like.

I won't go over the meeting in detail, since Neil has done that for Saturday
and will perhaps do it for Sunday too. Also, Jan Vansteelandt has written a 
report in Dutch that will be translated into English for the upcoming issue 
of Flash (and perhaps also put on SeeSat-L). 

Neil has already mentioned the 'discussion on organizing satellite observers 
internationally'. It certainly didn't bring what I expected of it. It brought
to light that many people come to this hobby with very different and varying
ideas of what it should be and how or whether it should be organized. The same
can be learned from the (anonymous) survey about Eurosom 2 that was held among
the participants. Some people have a research-oriented approach to satellite
observing, some don't and just 'want to have fun', and a majority want some
kind of balance between fun and research. For those with a research-oriented
approach, Eurosom 2 and (by extension) SeeSat-L isn't 'dry and scientific'
enough; it contains too much 'blabla'. For those who are in our hobby for
more non-research-oriented reasons, SeeSat-L is way too dry and 'boring'. 

Many of the latter, but also some of the former, come to SeeSat-L/Eurosom/
this hobby with an expectation of being *served* in their satellite
observing needs by SeeSat-L/BWGS/etc...
This attitude is bound to bring disappointment and frustration to both sides, 
since it ignores the history and reality of SeeSat/Eurosom/BWGS. SeeSat-L 
started out as a convenient means of communication between a handful of active 
satellite observers. It grew slowly from 5 in December 1994 to 350 subscribers 
today, without any 'grand publicizing schemes'. It certainly wasn't started nor
intended as a service to everyone, to be scrutinized and used by everyone. It
happened to grow that way. This evolution has brought many good things, but
also some disadvantages. The above-mentioned difference in perception on what
SeeSat-L is supposed to be is one. The attitude that 'we' are here to serve
your needs is another one [if you think this attitude doesn't exist, go back
just a few weeks in time and read some of the messages a French observer has
communicated in diverse ways to SeeSat-L]. None of the work 'we' put into 
organizing SeeSat-L/Eurosom/BWGS/VSOHP/ftp-site is paid. It is all based on 
volunteer work, and it has become quite obvious to me that providing 'services'
to 10-20 people whom you know 'personally' is a task of a wholy different 
magnitude than that of doing those things for 350 people. Not only is it much
more work, it has also subjected (at least) me to flame-war-like attacks in
Needless to say both effects imply a somewhat (insert sarcastic smilie
here) reduced enjoyment of what is supposed to be a hobby.

The above mentioned reasons are behind Neil's and my appeal on UseSat-L/Eurosom
for more practical support in 'running' SeeSat/VSOHP/etc... Some people have
mentioned that creating some kind of 'international satellite observing 
organization' could help in alleviating the above-mentioned problems,
since it would provide a structure more suited to a group of 350 people in
which tasks could be shared and be made the responsibility of a larger 
group of individuals. Obviously such a GLobal Observing Network of Artificial
Satellites (thanks, Jay :-) would also hold in it the risk of burocracy, so
it would have to be kept suitably informal (as befits a hobbyists 
organization). But such a GLONAS certainly could provide a framework in
which satellite observers can be brought together, in which newcomers to the
hobby can be introduced to the magic of our hobby :-) and last but not least
in which more individuals would help out in 'providing services'.

In a way this is what we've been trying to do on UseSat-L since March, but
without the framework. Rather than banning a discussion about these ideas
to UseSat-L, I would suggest that reactions be sent to SeeSat-L, at least
for now, since such a GLONAS would be important for our hobby. At a later
stage of the discussion, we can then perhaps move the discussion to UseSat-L.
But for now, I welcome reactions on SeeSat-L.

Back to Eurosom 2, I would finally like to thank the Local Organizing Commitee 
of Eurosom 2 who put a lot of their free time into getting it organized:
- Jean De Weerdt 
- Kurt Jonckheere
- Tristan Cools
- Jan Vansteelandt

Bart De Pontieu --  Max-Planck-Institute for extraterrestrial Physics, Garching
bdp@mpe-garching.mpg.de  --      http://www.rzg.mpg.de/~bdp/satintro.html
BWGS-coordinator - Flash editor - SeeSat-L administrator -  soon-to-be-observer
   "Life is like a jigsaw. You get the straight bits, but there's something"
       "missing in the middle." -- XTC, "All Of A Sudden (It's Too Late)"