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Head of FanProgramming for PenguiCon 4.0. HeadOfProgramming for 2.0. ConChair for 1.0.

Legend has it that TracyWorcester and RobLandley were sitting around ConSuite at some other convention back in about 2000 or 2001 late, late at night– in other words the sort of condition at conventions in which all the greatest things are known to happen– when one of them observed that they saw a lot of the same people at LinuxUserGroup meetings as at ScienceFiction conventions. It occurred to them in their late-night convention madness that if they made a convention about both topics they could create some kind of geek gravity well. It was a “you've got your peanut butter in my chocolate” idea, so to speak. In fact, EricRaymond was one of the biggest names in OpenSource and attended ScienceFiction conventions all the time. He was, and is, one of the most vocal advocates of the idea that there is no fundamental difference between the two communities. They could invite him to be their TechGoH.

This origin story is legend of course, and comes second hand. Not having been there, I cannot confirm or deny whether there was been radioactive spiders, kryptonite, cosmic rays, a cave full of bats, or a vat of chemicals involved. Those who actually know are invited to correct the details.

But I do know from personal experience that as a result of that night TracyWorcester and RobLandley made PenguiCon happen for the first time in May 5-7 TwoThousandThree. -MattArnold


*The following is from the first PenguiCon ProgramBook in TwoThousandThree. (Edited to include WikiWords.)*

ConChair Report aka Ramblings of an Exhausted Crazy Woman<br> TracyWorcester, Convention Chair

SF conventions are the result of a team of bright, creative proactive volunteers, who put in hours of time and effort, for no pay, being rewarded primarily through two avenues: hanging out with people they like, and knowing they were a part of creating something cool. There is generally someone who gets to sign the contracts and coordinate the whole circus, called a convention chair. That would be me, this year.

To those of you who are long-time convention goers, this event is going to look familiar. All of the unfamiliar elements you find at PenguiCon will be additions, not subtractions: an 802.11b wireless network; introductory and advanced computing programming tracks; on call tech support for those wishing to install Linux on their computers; computer equipment sales in the DealersRoom; and hot and cold running sword-fighting demos.

TO those of you who come from the OpenSource community and have never been to a convention of this type, imagine if you will a really _good_ [LUG] meeting…one where a lot of your friends show up, and the presenter is really interesting, and you're in a location which has good furniture, and people brought really good drinks and munchies. Then extrapolate: enough geeks there to take over a [Hotel]. And five presenters, including [ESR], CmdrTaco, PeteAbrams, and Illiad. And a Scotch tasting. And an 802.11b wireless network. And geek women. And really good coffee.

You get the picture.

We're a first year event, {editor's note: remember this was written in 2003} which means many things. We've made up this whole thing from scratch, which means some brilliant, innovative social hacks, and some really inelegant workarounds. We hope you will enjoy the brilliance, and bear with us for this year's workarounds.

If you see something that you know could be done better, volunteer at the convention this year for the department you want to improve. Watch the way folks are doing things; work within the system which is in place. Even if the system looks wrong, there may be a reason it was built that way. Figure out what they're trying to acheive. And then, if you still think you've got a better idea, track down the people running that department next year, and volunteer to help them do it better.

FWIW, I did my best, and so did the rest of the ConCom. I hope you like it. (:


To RobLandley, Eric S. Raymond, and CathyRaymond, for starting the whole thing off. To OffworldDesigns for t-shirt reproduction. To the folks at SourceForge for hosting the website. To HarperCollins for donating books. To the staff of the VanDykePark Suites for balance in the face of high weirdness. To MetroDetroitLUG for our installfest. To Telesthetic for a good deal on our T1. To JD and Pete for guestlike niftiness above and beyond the call of duty. To all our guests and attendees for making the event in any way possible. And particular thanks to JohnGuest, SteveGutterman, BrendanDurrett, JaneEdgeworth, and RachaelLewis, for getting me to the convention more or less sane.

So What's PenguiCon…and Why?<br> What is PenguiCon? The short form is: a full-fledged SF convention with wireless internet, and with programming involving both introductory and advanced fannish topics, and introductory and advanced topics related to OpenSource operating systems and software development.

Now, there are two big directions the question could come from.

What's an SF convention, and why use an SF convention format to host and OpenSource event?

What's an SF convention? Many SF conventions are about a bunch of odd people getting together, taking over a hotel for a weekend, and staying up late talking and gaming until the wee hours of the morning, with a constantly available stream of caffiene and munchies, and in some cases beer and actual food as well. Usually, someone will have imported one to four guests they think attendees would be interested in hearing talk. The overall purpose is to discuss SF as it is seen in books, TV, and movies, both specific books and authors, and the ideas they are based on. Additionally, discussions (and programming) spring up based on major SF fannish subcultures, including but not limited to gamers (RPG, tabletop, and computer), costumers, anime fans, and SCA folks.

Why use an SF convention format to host an OpenSource event? See “What's an SF convention”, above. The fit between the populations seemed blindingly obvious to me. We've added a few things which aren't typical at Midwest SF conventions, like an 802.11b wireless network, network gaming, an InstallFest, and several published technical authors presenting introductory and advanced technical tracks. So the technical people get to hang out with other technical geeks and learn nifty things during the day. Then they get to hang out with SF geeks all night, with food and gaming and beer and the like. The only problem is figuring out when (or whether) to sleep.

Of course, if you know conventions, your questions may come from the other direction.

What's OpenSource, and why attach OpenSource guests and attendees to an SF convention?

What's OpenSource? I may not do this description justice, because I am only on the fringes of the OpenSource community. But I'll give it my best shot. OpenSource is a method of software development involving cooperation and without secrecy. Basically, imagine a group of bright and creative people who code for fun, who do it for free, and share it with anyone who is interested.

Why invite OpenSource people to an SF convention? Over the years, I met a lot of OpenSource developers. Almost all of them read and watched SF, had a passion for ideas, and preferred staying up all night, either by themselves doing something interesting or with other people, either talking about stuff or collaborating on creating something. Many of them are gamers and anime fans. And while many of them went to SF conventions, a surprising number of them either didn't know what SF conventions were, or thought they were all for profit events revolving around TV and movie stars.

I think, from this blending, everyone wins. I hope you have enough fun here to prove me right.

TracyWorcester, ConChair, PenguiCon

people/tracyworcester.txt · Last modified: 2017/01/14 11:24 (external edit)