HEY MAX: IDEAS FOR NEXT YEAR (was Re: The conversations at

Michael M. Butler (butler@comp*lib.org)
Tue, 12 Aug 1997 04:26:12 -0700

>* higher price for extro conference (I'd gladly pay) + some kind of
>"scholarships" for people who are desired as attendees, even if they are
>not necessarily speakers

The multi-tiering of prices may be a necessary strategy once the conference
is large enough to be
self-sustaining. MAX: have you ever spoken to Glenn Tenney about how
he/they run(s) Hackers?

Regarding scholarships:
There has to be some selection pressure or things will defocus/diffuse; and
a selection
committee (say) requires an investment of time from multiple parties.

This brings up a separate point of possible interest should committees come
into being:
RECOMMENDATION: I find the practice of some (well, one that I know of) SF
cons to require that
all convention committee members still pay full price is a salutary curb on
committee bloat.
Not that that's a problem at this point, but it might be if Extro's
membership grows much

>* online list of attendees so you can prepare to have discussions in

That's a pretty good idea.

> What do you think? Any other ideas?


Shorter, tight sessions. BTW, KUDOS to Max for scheduling/announcing
'tween-session breaks--a practice I find infrequent in "Big" conventions of
all stripes. Making the sessions tight is a skill that presenters need to
focus on or it just doesn't happen, and it's not taught everywhere. Hmm,
was that a pun?

"Donut" (hole in the middle) sessions (the hole can be an intermission,
mingle-session, teambuilding, a whole other session, _catered_ light lunch,
or something you invent through lateral thinking--it's the jelly in the
donut--the point being to transmute the flow without breaking it).
Logistics need to be mirror-smooth if you put a session in the middle.
IDEA: a la carte pricing for the "donut" session(s). There are obvious
risks here.

Sessions which are designed to turn into seminars. "Donut" sessions can do
this spontaneously, sometimes even when not designed to. :) Information
capture can be a problem here, depending on several obvious factors. More
microphones can help if protocol is well observed.

Sessions which require all participants (including the "audience") to hand
in something written (questionnaire, topic-relevant provocative (po)
utterance on a 3x5 card, single OVERHEAD page(!), ???) for admission. This
requires arbitration and/or split attention from someone who thinks fast on
his feet during the session. This can be total chaos or really great
(productive) fun, depending--it's kind of a cross between a seminar and a
just-in-time version of Luke's advance email discussion idea--when it
works, it can be like a really great jam session, but there has to be a
"chart" or a smooth rhythm section (:)) or it devolves. And it helps if you
have chops *and* the ability to sit in with the rhythm section when you're
not flying.

And of course multitracking. There are obvious risks and costs, but it's
traditional. This should be enough for us to view it with suspicion. :)


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