Pocket program

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Written by Rachel, while it's on my mind, about a week before Minicon 50.

The Pocket Program is a brief, usually one-sheet, document used at Minicon (and perhaps other Mnstf cons). It is ideally intended to fit easily in people's pockets, and provide ready reference for the following things:

  • The full programming grid, including titles, locations and times of all programming items (and participants and even descriptions, if space allows).
  • Maps of the hotel, updated to include where movies will be shown, where late-night concert jams are happening, where dealers are, etc. etc etc.
  • Hours for various con functions, including registration, art show, dealers room, science, volunteers, info desk, hospitality (consuite/bar), movies and whatever else needs to have hours posted.
  • Contact information for the Code of Conduct Committee.
  • A reminder to call 911 in the event of true emergencies.
  • A reminder to check the Bozo Bus Tribune (our at-con newsletter) for the latest information.
  • Other ready-reference information as needed. Possibilities: Late hotel checkout information; recycling information;
  • Occasional art -- publications may have access to art that is appropriate, as may the con chair or other folks on the concomm
  • Silliness, to taste.
  • Possible clues related to the Medallion Hunt, if requested by the Cluemaster.

The past few years, I've mostly been doing the pocket program as a tabloid (11x17") document. This has allowed the type to be barely readable: generally 8pt URW Palladio in the main programming grid. Smaller paper requires smaller type. People complain about the tabloid size paper -- "this isn't pocket sized" -- but, hey, they can fold it. If the paper was much smaller, I bet the complaints about readability would be much louder.

The printing process

Because the pocket program is only a single sheet, printing it has a very short lead time (at least compared to the program book). This means that the pocket program can reflect changes made to the schedules, often a lot later than the program book can.

Hopefully, you're working closely with programming and other departments to get as many of the last-minute updates as possible reflected in the pocket program. It's a good idea to send a draft or two to the concomm list and ask for feedback. "With many eyes, all bugs are shallow" and all that.

How long does it take to print? That depends on where you print it, and how much the con is willing to spend. Recently, we've printed the pocket program at Kinko's (AKA FedEx Office). They're supposed to be able to complete any print job in four hours, and can often print the entire run while you wait. If there is a work party, find out when it is. If you're printing through Kinko's, you can probably take the final document to them for printing the day before the pocket program.

That means that you -- assuming you're printing through Kinko's and trying to have the finished products ready for the work party -- should finalize the pocket program a day before the work party. Your personal schedule may change this one way or the other, of course.

Print approximately one copy per con attendee. We can assume that a fair number of people will lose their pocket programs and use more than one, but also some folks will never take one to begin with, so it basically balances out.

We've recently not had them fold the pocket programs, because a) that gives folks at the Work Party something to do and b) some folks prefer to receive their pocket programs unfolded anyway.

Kinko's is not especially cheap. It is entirely possible to find printers who will do the run for considerably less. However, the con chairs have recently agreed that it's good to have last-minute changes reflected in the pocket program, rather than trying to save money.

Recent pocket programs

A fair number of Minicon pocket programs are on the web:

If you would like in-progress versions of any of those documents, please let me (Rachel) know -- I have most of them. I've created the pocket program primarily in Libre Office, with the maps done in Inkscape and occasional tweaking in GIMP.