Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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SiliCon Feedback Session

I atended the SiliCon feedback session. No blood was spilled.

Initial discussion was the hotel, other hotels, the parking situation, and other related topics. Now of course, the people at SiliCon are self-selected in that people for whom having to pay anything for parking makes the convention impossible. It astonishes me that having to pay $3-$10/day for parking would be so much of an issue for people commuting to the con may have been the only reason some people didn't attend.

The session rambled on quite a bit more than it really needed to do so. Regrettably, a number of the issues raised would have been better handled in a "staff debriefing" session, as certain people with strongly held opinions began discussing things out of the audience that I think were more in the nature of the convention's management philosophy. And when the audience starts trying to discuss web site design in any detail other than "you probably should have had the registration hours posted," things run the risk of spiraling into religious wars.

At one point, people started speculating (without much data) about why BayCon and Westercon had to move to San Mateo. One local fan started to very loudly proclaim the "real reasons," when the SiliCon leadership (rightly) put a stop to it. I said (backed up by the head table), "This is SiliCon. You should address questions about BayCon and Westercon to BayCon and Westercon, and this is not the appropriate place to discuss it."

One thing that shows that the convention was pitched at some people who liked it was the complaint made that "there were times when there were too many program items at once that I wanted to attend," when from my point of view, there was hardly anything that interested me. Indeed, if the only reason I attended a convention was the programming, I wouldn't have bothered attending.

Still, someone complaining that there shouldn't be any programming in the evening, "because the meds my doctor put me on make me sleepy," is way too (negative sense) fannish -- the sense of "the purpose of the convention is to cater to my specific needs without regard to any other member of the convention." I call this "Herbert Weiner Syndrome," for the ConJose attendee who insisted that because he'd paid for his "ticket," we had a contractual obligation to cater to his exclusive tastes and to make sure that nothing conflicted for him personally. *sigh*

It was a pretty subdued feedback session (with a couple of exceptions noted above), but then this was a pretty subdued convention.

SiliCon really is too small for this property. On the other hand, one of the reasons the con is small is that it has moved from place to place, changed dates, changed management hands repeatedly, and destroyed much of its continuity over the years. There is a case to be made for trying to settle down in a property that is known and liked by local fandom, one that has in many cases had a decent working relationship with fannish cons (the departure of BayCon and Westercon notwithstanding), and attempting to grow the convention to the right size (between 1000 and 2000 attendees, I think) for the facility.

They don't have an attendance figure yet, and I understand the challenges in coming up with a figure. Trying to get an order of magnitude, I asked, "Was it more than 500 and less than 1000 people?" Co-chairman Chris Knight said, somewhat reservedly, "Yes, and probably toward the top end of that range." They don't have an exact figure because they distributed a lot of free passes as charity outreach, and those are being tracked differently than regular memberships. But that figure squares with my perception. Add another five hundred attendees and I think they'll be back at the fannish critical mass that existed here in the 1980s.
Tags: silicon
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