December 6th, 2015


SMOFCon Day 2: Too Much Stuff

Saturday of SMOFCon was so packed with stuff that I really don't have time to do justice to it, and I didn't take the photos I should have done.

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After that was the panel I was on about badge design, for which to my surprise we had a decent turnout (that is, not everyone went to the discussion about what made Sasquan different), and I think a good discussion about the various factors that go into convention membership badge design. I posted my four main design elements from my article in Argentus, and we discussed how the factors will inevitably change based on the nature of the event. For example, the priorities for a 150-person fandom meeting-planner event like SMOFCon are radically different than those of 10,000-person anime convention that has had a serious badge counterfeiting problem.

Lisa had gone off with pcornelius to ride and look at trains today, so I went to lunch with bovil and kproche. We walked across the Water Garden to the Omni Hotel and had lunch in their restaurant. Because of the big buffet breakfast, I just had a bowl of the venison chili, which was quite good.

As it happens, there wasn't much in the afternoon program that sent me, so I divided the afternoon between taking a short lie down (not really a nap, I think) in my room, then hanging out the con suite, where I ended up eating more good chili, until going to a light dinner and then helping Lisa (back from the Interurban Railway Museum in Plano) carry and set up equipment for the "Fannish Inquisition" — presentation and questions for future SMOFCons and for current Worldcons and bids for future NASFiCs and Worldcons.

Lisa recorded as much of the Fannish Inquisition as she could under the circumstances; however, we don't have time or bandwidth to upload the videos right now. It might not get online until Christmas, based on our travel schedule. I couldn't work on it immediately afterwards, because I had the Probability & Statistics Seminar to organize immediately after the Inquisition. Thank goodness Chris Carson was there to help Lisa break down her equipment.

Chicago was selected (without opposition) to host SMOFCon 34 next year, at a Chicago-area site to be announced.

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We've improved the Fannish Inquisition over the years, including better time discipline on presentations and the Q&A session. Unfortunately, it appears to me that there is a streak of SMOFS who have taken this as a challenge for throwing in more irrelevancies and jokes to try and once again expand the event to an uncomfortable length. There were a couple of people who seemed to want to announce bids and jokes for just about everything, and thanks to that, the event didn't finish until 11:30 PM, and a lot of us, including me, were getting a bit exasperated. I think we're going to have to find some way to split this thing into two pieces, putting the SMOFCon selection and seated conventions presentations and Q&A into one 90-minute item and the bids into another one. Not everyone thinks that spending more than three hours in a progressively hotter-and-stuffier room listening to people announce yet another joke bid is a productive use our of time.

Lisa adds that if the Inquisition were better managed, it would be much easier for the person doing the video to do in-camera editing and thus easier to get the video posted sooner. Of course the event is geared around the people actually in the room, but it would be much appreciated if the moderator could be more cognizant of the recording without someone having to stand up and shout "stop!" and "start!" to get his/her attention.

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It was a pretty good peak day at SMOFCon. It would have been better if Worldcon bidders could show a little bit more restraint.

SMOFCon Day 3: And So It Ends

Having gotten to bed last night after 4 AM and knowing I had a 10 AM panel, I concluded that breakfast was a no-go for me on Sunday. I let myself sleep in as late as I could and still have a chance to shower, shave, get dressed, grab a large mug of coffee from the con suite, and take a food bar with me down to the programming room for my 10 AM panel regarding burnout on convention committees. We had a productive discussion on the subject, I think, although I may have auto-piloted my way through much of it. Afterwards, I went back up and woke Lisa up so we could go find a late breakfast. We ran into David Clark, who was also bound for lunch, and we walked uptown. Nobody we saw served breakfast all day, but we had serviceable (albeit somewhat messy) hamburgers at Jake's Restaurant, after which we walked off some of the meal tracking down a Bank of America ATM for me and a Walgreen's for Dave before making our way back to the hotel in time for the final panel of SMOFCon this year: How to Call Out Other Conventions. This was a discussion about how and whether you should point out other groups' mistakes, particularly the most egregious ones that could poison your convention's relationship with hotel facilities. I found it very interesting listening to the stories behind the panel title, but I was so sleepy that I couldn't concentrate that well.

And that was a convention. This year's SMOFCon did not schedule a Closing Event item, which I think is unfortunate. I think SMOFCon should have a definite end with a final wrap-up, even if it's just a short "Thank you for coming and hope you'll be back to next year's convention in X" event.

pcornelius came by and collected Lisa to take her away to see the Maker Space where he is a regular participant, while I hung out in the Con Suite smoffing — that's why I was here, after all. Then it was time for dinner, and I found myself part of a large off-site expedition.

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After dinner, we returned to the hotel, and those of us staying over tonight gathered in the Con Suite. I spent several hours there engaged in many enjoyable conversations (including hearing a wonderful idea for the Sasquan Thank You Party at next year's Worldcon that I hope comes to pass but about which I can say no more right now), but a bit after 10 PM I realized that I was falling asleep where I sat and that it would be wise to get some packing done tonight in light of our desire to put many miles behind us tomorrow on the first leg of our trip home.

I had a really good time here in Fort Worth, and I'm glad I came to SMOFCon. It's one of the high points of my year, and despite working hard to travel and to organize the poker tournament and help Lisa with the recording, it's significantly less draining than Worldcon while giving me a chance to meet and talk with many of my friends in a less-pressured environment than usual. I found myself with a smile on my face much more of this weekend than at many a Worldcon, simply because there was less to worry about.