We're going to depart from tradition for 2007. In the past PenguiCon has done it the usual way. Traditionally for SF conventions, the Head of Programming had a large scope of tasks which they did or delegated to others. Early on, all volunteer panelists are directed to him or her for a response. The Head of Programming would assemble a team with one or two people to take charge of each track, including FanProgramming, TechProgramming, NonComputerGaming, OnstageProgramming and AnimeProgramming. They wrote blurbs about the events to go in the program book, and arranged the times and locations of all events to avoid conflicts. They contacted or recruited ProgramParticipants to be on panels, and told them which events they are assigned to, and made sure there were no schedule conflicts.
For PenguiCon 5.0 in 2007 we will do this differently. Just like Web 2.0 is made of people, the schedule will be assembled from user generated content on a web-based system. I am not going to write the blurbs, or come up with ideas. All of you, the Penguicon attendees and ProgramParticipants, will do so. I will be a content creator too, as an equal among peers, but as HeadOfProgramming I will not have a centralized vision into which to corral and police reluctant and uninvolved bystanders. We've got a huge culture of volunteerism from both the computer and SF Fandom sides, with people clamoring to be given permission to bring their own cool ideas to reality. Other than to be a referree with distributing the rare spaces and times and peak hours, Programming's job will be to get out of your way and let you shine.
Here's the way it works. The online room booking system that AaronThul devised for PenguiCon 4.0 in 2006 will be expanded.
When you have an idea for an event, you fill out the web-based form which works like a comment to a blog, with a title and blurb describing your event in eighty words or less. You don't have to be a great writer to write the blurb; feel free to ask for help with your description. But when you're volunteering to create a panel you have to know what it's about and why it's worth attending, and we can't get that info from anyone but you. Make it clear what it is and tell why the reader should go to it. There will also be a comment field where you can talk to me, but in the blurb you're talking to the attendees of your event. (You can keep improving it, too.)
When you submit it, I get an email. I click “approve” on the item and the system sends you an email confirmation that your event is happening and that you are committed to show up for it. If anything changes you get another notification. There will be a drop-down menu on each event for me to add a ProgramParticipant to that event. But their name won't be on it if they already are on another event at the same time.
All past events we have ever done are by default not happening until someone signs up to run them. If no one wants to run them, they must not be worth repeating. If you love an event, you can make it happen. And I know you guys and gals– you definitely will.
Ideally, any attendee will be able to enter their name and email address on a form on every event to indicate that they would be interested in attending it. This goes on a tally of votes visible only to me. The more votes an event gets, the better informed I will be to know which room to put it in, and when too many events are competing for the same time slot it will determine the winner. Also events will not be scheduled opposite each other which have a large and obvious overlap in those expressing interest.
When the schedule is finished and locked, the system will also generate reports based on each type of field:
- A report of all events taking place in a particular room, to be printed out and hung on the door.
- A report of all events listed chronologically, for the program book.
- A report of the schedule of each ProgramParticipant, for their packets to be distributed in the GreenRoom.
This year we are going to get the schedule set in wet plaster by December!