July 26th, 2007

Pointless Arrow

Who Rides the Rails?

Thanks to Cheryl, I had a look at this chart showing the average distance traveled by rail per person in selected countries. The US average is so low that if you rode with us on the pre-Westercon baseball excursion, you traveled longer by rail on that one round-trip than the average American travels by rail in a year.
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Less Obvious Than You'd Think

One of the big challenges of running Worldcons is the lack of institutional memory. Because the convention is run by a different group every year, there is a lot of year-to-year memory loss. Even if we learn something this year, there's so much turnover in our management that the people making the decision next year may have no idea of what happened the previous year.

(Worse, they may not even care that much, as from their point of view, they're putting on their own convention that just happens to have the name "Worldcon" attached to it. We hope the top management feels otherwise, but so many unwise decisions are made by people at a much lower level, and they tend to be resentful when the Chair makes too many detail level decisions for them.)

This is one of the reasons, for instance, behind certain Worldcons using microscopic type on the names on their membership badges -- the person making the decision was unaware that doing this really annoys people. Back the last time this happened, WSFS charged the "Nitpicking & Flyspecking Committee" (which tries to deal with certain technical issues surrounding the WSFS rules) with nagging seated Worldcons periodically to remind them that WSFS wants name badges to be printed in large, bold, easily readable type.

Last year, the Business Meeting gave the NPFSC another such nag -- which we promptly forgot about until we were putting together the Resolutions and Rulings of Continuing Effect. We've taken steps to reduce the chance of this happening next year.

I'm on yet another committee that is considering proposing adding another nag order to the NPFSC. I suggested that the proposal be titled the "Discouraging Wheel Reinvention Act of 2007."