alexxkay: (Default)
Fascinating discussion going on over here about convention structure in general, and Readercon in specific. Lots of talk about what various types of panel structures either encourage or discourage. I asked a question asking for more data that started a sub-thread.
"discouraging small or individual book conversations among people who are not panelists"

I am not aware of any convention that has mechanisms in place to encourage such conversations, nor do I have any clear notion what such mechanisms might be. I'd be interested in having this ignorance corrected, if you know of any examples.
A bunch of examples were provided, though none of them seemed close enough for me to easily check them out.

The more I think about this, though, the more I realize that my problems with various panels don't *seem* (to me) to have anything to do with structure.

When I go to a panel, I want to hear interesting, non-annoying people talk. "Interesting" can include any of the following: Informative, Witty, Insightful. Conversely, "Annoying" includes things like: Pompous, Sexist, Self-absorbed. Qualities like Rambling and Off-Topic can be positive or negative, depending on what other qualities they are paired with.

The problem, then, is to give the Interesting people lots of time to speak, while squelching the Annoying ones. Unfortunately, 'being on a panel' is only weakly correlated with this divide. Someone on a panel is *slightly* more likely to be interesting, whereas an audience member is *slightly* more likely to be annoying -- but there have been plenty of times when an audience member proved more interesting than a panelist. Indeed, it was the feeling that *I* was more interesting than some panelists that prompted me to start being a panelist at Arisia.

The one significant thing on the panelists' side (to me, as a consumer) is that I can (eventually) have some advance knowledge of what they are likely to be like. I know that any panel with at least two of Greer Gilman, Faye Ringel, and Sonya Taafe (sp?), is going to be entertaining. I have identified a few people who (naming no names) will reliably piss me off if I attend a panel they are on. Audience members, on the other hand, are catch-as-catch-can.

Is there any structural way to promote Interest, and reduce Annoyance? I can't think of one off hand. Strong moderation is one approach, but that can fail drastically when the moderator himself turns out to be Annoying. Further discussion welcomed.
alexxkay: (Default)
I'm considering day-tripping to Readercon in July, which is tricky for the non-car-enabled. Is anyone reading this:
a) Car-enabled.
b) Willing to pick me and/or [livejournal.com profile] kestrell up somewhere on the Red Line? Or drop us off at night? You don't necessarily need to do both, if we can get multiple people who can do parts...
alexxkay: (Default)
I'm considering day-tripping to Readercon in July, which is tricky for the non-car-enabled. Is anyone reading this:
a) Car-enabled.
b) Willing to pick me and/or [livejournal.com profile] kestrell up somewhere on the Red Line? Or drop us off at night? You don't necessarily need to do both, if we can get multiple people who can do parts...
alexxkay: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] kestrell and I went to half of Boskone this year (only half due to limited amounts of both money and energy).

The new hotel isn't bad. One notable plus is that they had *seven* elevators, all working, and all fast. A big contrast to the typical con, and especially so after the disastrous elevators at Arisia last month. The elevators even talked, which Kes appreciated, although she thought the female voice sounded somewhat drugged.

Access from the T was good. I heard later that the hotel web page didn't have good directions, but I got mine off the Boskone page, and had no difficulties. Once I exited the World Trade Center station, the hotel was clearly visible, about a block and a half away.

I bought three books in the dealer's room. A Year's Best that I was lacking, Rosemary Kirstein's first book (which I'd been looking for for a while), and one book which I hadn't even known to exist, but had to own as soon as I became aware of it -- the fourth volume of The Mad Scientist's Club. These books were great joys in my youth, but I had thought there were only two of them. Now I must track down number three...

Also bought a magazine with an Alan Moore interview. And from the insidious "free books" table, a copy of The Thurb Revolution, by Alexei Panshin, of which I have heard many positive mentions. God knows when I'll *get* to any of this stuff...

The John M. Ford memorial extravaganza and auction went quite well. I performed the lead in the ambassador scene from Harry of Five Points, which seemed well received (Laurie Mann complimented me on it later). Other notable performances were TNH reading a very silly recipe, PNH reading "Scrabble With God", [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving reading an excerpt from "The Fellowship of the Woosters", and a fellow whose name I didn't catch singing a filk of "Trouble (Right Here in River City)" in which the big problem was young folks wandering down into dungeons and becoming adventurers.

There were lots of lovely things auctioned off, most of which had a starting bid higher than I was willing to go. Kes won a pendant which Elise Matthiesen had made, with a calligraphed label done by Mike himself. It's a pretty grey-and-red agate, and is named "The Bear Rehearses". The auction raised over 3 grand.

After that, Kes went up to bed, and I went down to the art show reception. It was actually fairly reception-like, with hors d'oevres and a jazz quartet in the corner for background music. I kind of tuned out the music at first, but then it penetrated my consciousness that the harsh notes of the trumpet were belting out a jazzy interpretation of The Imperial March from Star Wars. Which was So Wrong, but rather delightful as well. After riffing on that for a while, they moved on to their interpretation of The Cantina Band.

The art show itself was a fairly typical mix of stuff. There was a large exhibit of the work of a golden age artist who worked for Astounding which was nifty. Also of note, a sly, kinky piece called "Dragonplay", which depicted four tiny dragons (roughly 1.5 inches) whose very-sharp tails had been used to perform play-piercings around a woman's nipple. Since they were live dragons, and still moving around, one imagines the sensations would be quite... unique.

On Saturday, I saw Michael Flynn give a presentation on "Those Terrible Middle Ages". It had no description other than the title, so I wasn't sure what it would be. It turned out to be a debunking of many common myths about the "Dark Ages". It was a PowerPoint presentation, and had either been made for another venue, or not well timed, as he was skipping ahead a lot at the end. Overall, interesting and informative. Not without its own moments of bullshit, but I do agree with his basic premise, that things weren't nearly as "dark", and that progress by no means came to a halt.

Went to a "dialogue" between Teresa Nielsen Hayden and Guy Consalmagno(sp?) on the subject of Techies and Religion. This was *very* interesting, and had me scribbling lots of notes.

T said that one of the benefits of an active church life was being forced to spend time interacting with mundanes since, as much as she likes the members of her church, that's what they are. One audience member noted that there exist counterexamples -- her entire Ministry (or Parish, maybe? not clear on terminology) had written in to try and keep Babylon 5 on the air!

One audience member brought into a sharp focus a metaphor that T had been using since the beginning of the panel: "Ever since I "came out" as a Catholic..." He made the point that, within Fandom, religion *is* often treated like homosexuality is in the larger community. There are a lot of people who have that trait, but they often treat it like a dirty secret, and remain closeted, and invisible to those who don't look for them.

Audience quotes: "Some folks believe god is omnipotent except for the ability to use metaphor and allegory." "Religion isn't selling truth -- it's selling tech support."

Guy pointed out that "physics equations *are* metaphors -- just like good SF."

Someone, not sure if it was G or an ausience member, had an interesting story about an anthropologist who had investigated the population "Xerox repairmen". Apparently, these repairmen are not told how the Xerox machines actually *work*, just given thick manuals of what to do when certain symptoms present. Naturally, the actual failures in the field often fail to match the book's assumptions. So when they get together in the break room, these repairmen speculate together on how the machines really work, and try to reverse-engineer them, in order to be better able to fix them. The person telling this anecdote compared this behavior to how many techies treat religion: The Book clearly is *partially* right, but has some flaws that need to be fixed.

Kes ran into lots of fellow disabled fen over the weekend. A sweet lesbian couple in wheelchairs who she spent quite a while talking to, and an older woman in a wheelchair who insisted she take some Nancy-buttons with stylish disability puns on them ("Fantasy isn't our crutch, it's arcane" "Have cane, not able").

There was a fun silly panel on so-bad-they're-good SF movies. Ones that sounded worth looking up are the apparently infamous "Star Crash", and a little known Richard O'Brien piece called "Cafe Fantastic".

There was also a cool anecdote about the making of "Sheena, Queen of the Jungle". Apparently, it was filmed in Kenya entirely as a dodge for some international corporation that wasn't legally able to remove the Kenyan currency they had earned from the country. Their theory was to use them up making a lousy movie, then write off the loss as a tax break. In the event, the people of Kenya were so thrilled to have a movie filmed in their country that it was a huge hit there -- leaving the funding company with even *more* Kenyan currency than they had started with!

There was to be an audiobook panel again this year, with Bruce Coville, Tamora Pierce, and Tammy's hubby Tim (who sounds a lot like Wallace Shawn). Tamora couldn't make it, but her husband was there. Kes offered to be on the panel, since they seemed a bit short-handed. She and Tim very nearly derailed the panel onto anti-DRM rants, which *I* found amusing though Bruce seemed a bit disgruntled :)

Tamora records a lot of audiobooks with Bruce's company. He says she has the filthiest vocabulary of anyone he works with, and is often tempted to come out with a CD of outtakes titled "Tammy is a potty-mouth". Kes suggests marketing them as ringtones instead, which gets much audience acclaim.

Saw a little of the Tribblefest, then headed home, having had enough con for the time being. Many thanks to Ellen for giving us a ride home!
alexxkay: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] kestrell and I went to half of Boskone this year (only half due to limited amounts of both money and energy).

The new hotel isn't bad. One notable plus is that they had *seven* elevators, all working, and all fast. A big contrast to the typical con, and especially so after the disastrous elevators at Arisia last month. The elevators even talked, which Kes appreciated, although she thought the female voice sounded somewhat drugged.

Access from the T was good. I heard later that the hotel web page didn't have good directions, but I got mine off the Boskone page, and had no difficulties. Once I exited the World Trade Center station, the hotel was clearly visible, about a block and a half away.

I bought three books in the dealer's room. A Year's Best that I was lacking, Rosemary Kirstein's first book (which I'd been looking for for a while), and one book which I hadn't even known to exist, but had to own as soon as I became aware of it -- the fourth volume of The Mad Scientist's Club. These books were great joys in my youth, but I had thought there were only two of them. Now I must track down number three...

Also bought a magazine with an Alan Moore interview. And from the insidious "free books" table, a copy of The Thurb Revolution, by Alexei Panshin, of which I have heard many positive mentions. God knows when I'll *get* to any of this stuff...

The John M. Ford memorial extravaganza and auction went quite well. I performed the lead in the ambassador scene from Harry of Five Points, which seemed well received (Laurie Mann complimented me on it later). Other notable performances were TNH reading a very silly recipe, PNH reading "Scrabble With God", [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving reading an excerpt from "The Fellowship of the Woosters", and a fellow whose name I didn't catch singing a filk of "Trouble (Right Here in River City)" in which the big problem was young folks wandering down into dungeons and becoming adventurers.

There were lots of lovely things auctioned off, most of which had a starting bid higher than I was willing to go. Kes won a pendant which Elise Matthiesen had made, with a calligraphed label done by Mike himself. It's a pretty grey-and-red agate, and is named "The Bear Rehearses". The auction raised over 3 grand.

After that, Kes went up to bed, and I went down to the art show reception. It was actually fairly reception-like, with hors d'oevres and a jazz quartet in the corner for background music. I kind of tuned out the music at first, but then it penetrated my consciousness that the harsh notes of the trumpet were belting out a jazzy interpretation of The Imperial March from Star Wars. Which was So Wrong, but rather delightful as well. After riffing on that for a while, they moved on to their interpretation of The Cantina Band.

The art show itself was a fairly typical mix of stuff. There was a large exhibit of the work of a golden age artist who worked for Astounding which was nifty. Also of note, a sly, kinky piece called "Dragonplay", which depicted four tiny dragons (roughly 1.5 inches) whose very-sharp tails had been used to perform play-piercings around a woman's nipple. Since they were live dragons, and still moving around, one imagines the sensations would be quite... unique.

On Saturday, I saw Michael Flynn give a presentation on "Those Terrible Middle Ages". It had no description other than the title, so I wasn't sure what it would be. It turned out to be a debunking of many common myths about the "Dark Ages". It was a PowerPoint presentation, and had either been made for another venue, or not well timed, as he was skipping ahead a lot at the end. Overall, interesting and informative. Not without its own moments of bullshit, but I do agree with his basic premise, that things weren't nearly as "dark", and that progress by no means came to a halt.

Went to a "dialogue" between Teresa Nielsen Hayden and Guy Consalmagno(sp?) on the subject of Techies and Religion. This was *very* interesting, and had me scribbling lots of notes.

T said that one of the benefits of an active church life was being forced to spend time interacting with mundanes since, as much as she likes the members of her church, that's what they are. One audience member noted that there exist counterexamples -- her entire Ministry (or Parish, maybe? not clear on terminology) had written in to try and keep Babylon 5 on the air!

One audience member brought into a sharp focus a metaphor that T had been using since the beginning of the panel: "Ever since I "came out" as a Catholic..." He made the point that, within Fandom, religion *is* often treated like homosexuality is in the larger community. There are a lot of people who have that trait, but they often treat it like a dirty secret, and remain closeted, and invisible to those who don't look for them.

Audience quotes: "Some folks believe god is omnipotent except for the ability to use metaphor and allegory." "Religion isn't selling truth -- it's selling tech support."

Guy pointed out that "physics equations *are* metaphors -- just like good SF."

Someone, not sure if it was G or an ausience member, had an interesting story about an anthropologist who had investigated the population "Xerox repairmen". Apparently, these repairmen are not told how the Xerox machines actually *work*, just given thick manuals of what to do when certain symptoms present. Naturally, the actual failures in the field often fail to match the book's assumptions. So when they get together in the break room, these repairmen speculate together on how the machines really work, and try to reverse-engineer them, in order to be better able to fix them. The person telling this anecdote compared this behavior to how many techies treat religion: The Book clearly is *partially* right, but has some flaws that need to be fixed.

Kes ran into lots of fellow disabled fen over the weekend. A sweet lesbian couple in wheelchairs who she spent quite a while talking to, and an older woman in a wheelchair who insisted she take some Nancy-buttons with stylish disability puns on them ("Fantasy isn't our crutch, it's arcane" "Have cane, not able").

There was a fun silly panel on so-bad-they're-good SF movies. Ones that sounded worth looking up are the apparently infamous "Star Crash", and a little known Richard O'Brien piece called "Cafe Fantastic".

There was also a cool anecdote about the making of "Sheena, Queen of the Jungle". Apparently, it was filmed in Kenya entirely as a dodge for some international corporation that wasn't legally able to remove the Kenyan currency they had earned from the country. Their theory was to use them up making a lousy movie, then write off the loss as a tax break. In the event, the people of Kenya were so thrilled to have a movie filmed in their country that it was a huge hit there -- leaving the funding company with even *more* Kenyan currency than they had started with!

There was to be an audiobook panel again this year, with Bruce Coville, Tamora Pierce, and Tammy's hubby Tim (who sounds a lot like Wallace Shawn). Tamora couldn't make it, but her husband was there. Kes offered to be on the panel, since they seemed a bit short-handed. She and Tim very nearly derailed the panel onto anti-DRM rants, which *I* found amusing though Bruce seemed a bit disgruntled :)

Tamora records a lot of audiobooks with Bruce's company. He says she has the filthiest vocabulary of anyone he works with, and is often tempted to come out with a CD of outtakes titled "Tammy is a potty-mouth". Kes suggests marketing them as ringtones instead, which gets much audience acclaim.

Saw a little of the Tribblefest, then headed home, having had enough con for the time being. Many thanks to Ellen for giving us a ride home!
alexxkay: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] kestrell and I had a good time. Our room proved to be big enough that we decided to invite [livejournal.com profile] 43duckies to crash with us. It was fun getting to hang out with her. The Sheraton has a nifty new automated check-in and check-out system that I expect many fannish technophiles were using this weekend :-)

I actually ended up seeing more of Cory Doctorow than Kes did; she had gotten her "stalking Cory" jones well satisfied earlier in the week :-) I also got to hang out some with another favorite author of mine, Charles Stross ([livejournal.com profile] autopope).

Mike Ford added a lot of silliness to the weekend. Friday night he hosted a cabaret of fairy-tale filk that he had written. Ford can pastiche like nobody else. Speaking of which, the reading he did on Sunday was laugh-out-loud funny: "The Fellowship of the Woosters". It was a straight-up retelling of LotR, only taking out Aragorn and substituting in Ranger Bertram Wooster (and Jeeves, of course). He got the tone of each perfect :-) (Hey, [livejournal.com profile] damascene, any idea where we could find the text of that piece? Kes and I had to leave early...)

NESFA decided to do some house cleaning and duplicate pruning, so there were huge piles of free books at several locations around the con. Well, free in terms of money, anyways; on the way home on Sunday, my arms were complaining about the price!

Boskone is a lot smaller than I remember it being in the past. They didn't have a green room for program participants, nor were there participant bios in the program book. It does still have the high proportion of interesting pros that I remember from the old days, at any rate.

I managed to get enough sleep that I don't seem to have triggered a flu attack, always a risk at winter cons. A bit sore from carrying home the "free" books, but otherwise well.
alexxkay: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] kestrell and I had a good time. Our room proved to be big enough that we decided to invite [livejournal.com profile] 43duckies to crash with us. It was fun getting to hang out with her. The Sheraton has a nifty new automated check-in and check-out system that I expect many fannish technophiles were using this weekend :-)

I actually ended up seeing more of Cory Doctorow than Kes did; she had gotten her "stalking Cory" jones well satisfied earlier in the week :-) I also got to hang out some with another favorite author of mine, Charles Stross ([livejournal.com profile] autopope).

Mike Ford added a lot of silliness to the weekend. Friday night he hosted a cabaret of fairy-tale filk that he had written. Ford can pastiche like nobody else. Speaking of which, the reading he did on Sunday was laugh-out-loud funny: "The Fellowship of the Woosters". It was a straight-up retelling of LotR, only taking out Aragorn and substituting in Ranger Bertram Wooster (and Jeeves, of course). He got the tone of each perfect :-) (Hey, [livejournal.com profile] damascene, any idea where we could find the text of that piece? Kes and I had to leave early...)

NESFA decided to do some house cleaning and duplicate pruning, so there were huge piles of free books at several locations around the con. Well, free in terms of money, anyways; on the way home on Sunday, my arms were complaining about the price!

Boskone is a lot smaller than I remember it being in the past. They didn't have a green room for program participants, nor were there participant bios in the program book. It does still have the high proportion of interesting pros that I remember from the old days, at any rate.

I managed to get enough sleep that I don't seem to have triggered a flu attack, always a risk at winter cons. A bit sore from carrying home the "free" books, but otherwise well.

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Alexx Kay

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