Who's good for which programming

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One of the biggest questions about doing programming for Minicon, or any con, is figuring out who's good for what programming. This is not something I (Rachel) can distill into a clear document, however, because there are a lot of factors involved:

  • Interests: Different people have different interests. You will frequently discover, as you do programming, that someone you thought was primarily a Star Wars geek is also a linguistics and quantum computation geek, or that someone you thought was just into fantasy also has a deep and abiding interest in the state of the International Space Station. It is impossible to get everyone to tell you all their interests right off the bat -- there simply isn't personal bandwidth to do this -- but hopefully, through the programming process, you'll discover more about everyone's interests. It helps to be interested in the local fan community, know who's doing what, who's talking about what and who's interested in what. Remember, programming is primarily a management job.
  • Conflicts: You'll find that certain people have longstanding feuds with certain other people, and that putting them on a panel together is a recipe for disaster. Or that someone just generally prefers not to be on panels with someone else, and that it wouldn't be a disaster were they to be on panels together, but it might just generally be better for all concerned to avoid such a possibility. And many people believe in the theory that two married people should never be on a panel together. (Certainly, if they have a child required attention from one of them, they shouldn't both be on programming at the same time.) For me to list all the conflicts that exist would be both highly inaccurate and highly impolitic. If you'd like to know what I know, ask me personally. But don't be afraid to ask participants; part of the process of getting people on programming should be finding out what their conflicts and preferences are.
  • Suitability: Unfortunately, interest alone is not always an adequate indicator of how good someone would be for a panel. People who go to panels generally prefer to see professionals discussing things they are specialized in. (This leads into a discussion about the pro/amateur split in fandom, but that quickly becomes a rant, so I won't go into it.) Also, some people who believe they are eminently well qualified to discuss certain topics actually aren't. Unclear thinking; excessive tangents; loony ideas that masquerade as authoritative; you can probably imagine all the possible problems. This is a very touchy subject, and for me to go into any more detail would be even more impolitic. Again, ask me (Rachel Kronick) if you'd like a more direct answer.
  • Your own definitions of what it means to be good for programming are also extremely important. Many people believe that interest really is the only requirement for being on a panel; others believe that only pros should be allowed anywhere near a microphone; others believe that only people they've personally vetted should be on programming; others believe that the person who came up with the idea for a panel should always be on it; etc. etc. etc. There are too many possible standards out there for me (Rachel Kronick) to give specific information that accommodates all of them.

For all these reasons, I can't give a detailed list of who's suitable for which programming. Please contact me if you'd like more details.