The symposia organization has been inspired by the LAWST (Los Altos
Workshop on Software Testing) format, focusing on live discussion and collaboratively generating
conclusions, recommendations, and ideas rather than a publication quality proceedings.
- Topic Selection. The symposia chair circulates a definition of the topic.
Currently the definitions are short phrases, but the chairs will expand these definitions
into one or two paragraphs.
- Position Papers.
All symposia participants are expected to be active participants and
all participants start by submitting a position paper for review by the symposium chair.
Position papers can vary in length from one or two pages to fully developed article length
discussions. Positions papers need not be original, but they are needed to
describe each participant's interests and experiences. Position papers will be
available on the website in advance of the symposia.
- Invitation. Those with relevant position papers will be invited
to attend the symposia. Attendance will be limited to between 20 and 30 people so as to
maximize the disussions and interactions. There will be no attendance without a
position paper: requiring position papers from everyone ensures that all participants
have a clear idea of what all other participants are working on, interested in,
and want to talk about.
- Session Selection. A few days before the symposia, the chair
will group the position papers into four to six sessions based around common topics.
The sessions will be held sequential, perhaps a morning session, then a coffee break, then
a second morning session, then lunch, then an afternoon, another break, then a final session.
- Opening Presentation.
Each session will start with a presentation by a particularly knowledgable individual.
This person will have around a half hour (and will probably require less) to introduce his
or her work and the issues and challenges surrounding it. This presentation should encompass
the larger session topic and reference the other relevant position papers - the goal here is
to describe a single concrete example (this person's work) of a larger general interest area (this
session's topic). In general, the
talk should be about successes and future successes, but instructive failures are also welcome.
The opening presenter is entitled to assume that all attendees have read
the position papers.
- Presentation Focused Discussion.
After the initial presentation, the symposia attendees
may question or debate with the presenter, including presenting alternative
techniques or solutions, requesting or challenging or providing contrary data. The
ground rule here is that everything is focused on developing insight into the specific
practice or technique or failure that is being presented. This is not a time for general
discussion. For example, if Participant 1 is presenting Technique 1 and Participant 2
presents an alternative Technique 2, this is done as a means of helping people
understand the strengths and weaknesses of Technique 1, and not as a means of helping
people come to understand Technique 2. This ground rule will be enforced by the
chair. Another example: during this discussion, some general principles or
problems will be raised. These will be noted by the Recorder, but will not be discussed
until later. (Anyone can say, at any time, "Put this on the general principles chart for
later.") The discussion of the practice or technique continues until the facilitator
(probably guided by the group) decides that this sub-topic is exhausted. There is no preset
time limit. The discussion is expected and intended to continue through a period
during which attendees are slowly and perhaps painfully working through some
concepts, and even though this will often be a period that feels uncomfortable or
unproductive for some participants. The point of allowing the discussion to extend is
that many of the group's most creative ideas will develop during these awkward but
- Discussion of Broader Issues.
After some number of practices, techniques and failures
have been discussed, the chair will shift the focus of the session to a more general
discussion of the topic. General issues raised before will be noted and may be discussed
at this time, along with any other issues on topic that are raised by any participant.
Duration of this discussion is controlled by the facilitator. As with the narrower
discussions of examples, subject to the discretion of the facilitator, this discussion will
often be allowed to run past the time of facile contributions into an awkward period
during which people are thinking and presenting half-formed new ideas or are
exploring underlying significant differences with each other.
One attendee will prepare and present a summary that captures the key points, practices, and
conclusions made on the topic. Ideally, the summary will be in the form of a list of clear,
short statements. Participants may discuss any item on this list and the list will be
revised to take into account points from the discussion.