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Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule

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Addendum to say that none of the previous means I did not love Fourth Street, which is single track and awesome. What works for 125 people does not work for 4-500. Not to say that the old fangled Readercon does not appeal to some. It just smacks of the wrong direction to me, and for me as a participant, the new format removes much of the value of the con to my career and makes it a net negative. YMMV.

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The question, though, is this. Which of these is actually more exposure?

-- Two panels, a reading, and a kaffeeklatsch, when each item is one of nine or ten things happening simultaneously.

-- One panel and a reading, when they are each one of four of five simultaneous things.

In fact, if you think about it, there's no difference in exposure at all (given the same total attendance). Half as many tracks means twice as many people at each of your items. There is in fact no way that changing the number of tracks can change the amount of exposure for each pro.

I think someone as extraordinarily literate as yourself has a right to innumeracy, so you're excused for getting this wrong. :)

Do you really think that being on one panel all weekend and sitting in the audience knitting for the rest of the four days is the same as having close, varied face time with a number of different groups of people? It's not about numbers, it's about value. It's about a con not being an amorphous mass of people all wanting and doing the same thing. There is a huge difference between a giant auditorium in which I might, if I'm lucky, get to say a handful of things in the course of an hour and several smaller gatherings where I might get to share some of my work--you still don't seem to remember that I asked you at the con and you said there would probably be no readings--or discuss books in intimate coffee-settings with ten or fifteen people, close up. It just doesn't compare in joy or closeness or fun or contacts made. In a kaffeeklatsch, I might talk to someone who becomes a friend for life, or a reader of all my books. On a single panel, when the room is packed, I would be lucky to have anyone remember my face a week later.

I think you and I think about the purpose of cons very differently. I want to connect with people. You want to put on a convention. But I cannot connect personally with a huge auditorium--far bigger and more stuffed with people, all of whom will be uncomfortable and overwhelmed, than any room in a previous Readercon.

Also, if there are four or five things happening simultaneously it's not single track programming and this whole conversation is very strange. I think the main problem is that flyer, and I would love to see Readercon pull it and reach out online to mend the alienation it caused.

These are good points about the importance of small gatherings as well as large ones.

When we first designed the flyer we were indeed thinking about one literal track. I had no time to think creatively about how we might do more without it being too much work, and we did not want to promise more than we could deliver. As soon as the con got underway I started coming up with ideas of how we could populate single tracks of readings, solo talks, etc., while doing the scheduling in, say, 4 hours per track instead of 25. So that's the current conception. It will continue to evolve.

Then you have GOT to get that message out, Eric. Because right now that flyer is the face of next year's Readercon, and it has misinformation all over it.

In fact, I'd be happy to help design a new one, if you like.

We don't need a new flyer, per se. Not for a while. And we can't erase or retract the ones that exist!

There should be a Readercon 21 FAQ on the web site by Wednesday at the latest. I encourage folks to tell us what it might contain (hey, for once a FAQ that was actually based on questions that were actually asked!).

Actually, a public retraction or at least an "our bad!" would help a lot.

This goes back to Readercon needing more of an online presence besides its own website. People were confused as to why there was no LJ community, etc, even at the con.

Even more so since there is an LJ community...which would be completely empty if it weren't for kate_nepveu's wonderful link roundups.

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