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General Agenda

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General Agenda Empty General Agenda

Post  Don on Thu Sep 10, 2009 6:38 am

In order to bring our best stuff to Gen Con next year, we need to plan early and we need to plan well. Here's the timeline that we're looking at in roughly 4 phases:

Phase 1a: Brainstorming
Toss ideas out there. Anything you think would make a good presentation or a cool event (provided it abides by rule 2), create a thread for it in the appropriate forum. Even if it might be crazy, throw it out there anyway. The more ideas, the better.

Phase 1b: Refining
Everyone should participate and provide feedback and constructive criticism on others' ideas. This should be going on concomitantly with Brainstorming. What we'd really like to see is lots of collaboration: someone posts a short sketch of an idea which piques ideas in others, a bunch of people discuss and refine those ideas into something workable, and eventually we have ourselves a fully-formed event.

Phase 1c: Blabbing
Blabbing is unrelated to Brainstorming and Refining: it is the fine art of spreading the word about our plans to the four corners of the Earth. The more skeptics we get interested, the bigger and better our event will be. Publicity, people!

Blabbing also includes attempting to make contact with any "big name" skeptics, either to see if they're interested in helping us spread the word, or (if we're lucky) interested in coming to Gen Con 2010 and giving a talk themselves. The latter is something we should focus on: having a big name or two will give us quite a card to play when we pitch our "Skeptical Symposium" to Gen Con in January 2010 (see below for more info on that).

Phase 2: Finalizing
This is where Refining will eventually lead. We need a list of finalized events by no later than January 1, 2010. This means that at least a couple of weeks in December should be dedicated to choosing which events we've Brainstormed and Refined are going to make the cut for submission to Gen Con, who is going to run/moderate those events, and when they want those events to occur. A finalized event will have all of the following categories filled in:
Brief Description
Date/Time of Event
Length of Event
Equipment Needed (laptop projector, PA system, etc.)
Phase 3: Submission
In January, the administrators (myself, Sean, Rob, and Tom), final list of events in hand (and hopefully a bigwig or two lined up), and contact Gen Con to pitch a "Skeptical Symposium," a kind of Midwest mirror of SkepTrack at Dragon*Con. The final list of events will show them that we're taking our plans seriously and aren't just pissing into the wind, and a bigwig or two will lend us a pile of credibility. Our hope is to get ourselves a little corner of the con for skepticism and critical thinking and not just be an unofficially organized conglomeration of events.

In any case, whether Gen Con gets behind the Skeptical Symposium idea or not, we administrators will submit all the events on the final list as soon as Gen Con Event Registration opens up. Even if we don't get the Symposium, this way we can at least be organized and all under the same unofficial tent.

Phase 4: Development
Perhaps the most important phase: creating/writing/organizing your talk/panel/event/whatever. It's good to get a head start on this; we learned the hard way with our skeptical panel at Gen Con 2009 that leaving it for the last minute is a mistake. So get together with the other folks working on your event and get the thing banged out: what are you going to say? Will you have a PowerPoint to go along with it? Do you need specific media? Put your ideas on paper (so to speak) so you have a solid, prepped event come August, 2010.

A key element of this is practice: make sure what you've developed fits within your time constraints. Make sure you know how you're going to say what you want to say. Make sure it sounds good when spoken out loud. Have others listen to it to see if it makes sense or needs rewording or rethinking.

There is a deadline, for reputation purposes: all final events should have a detailed outline and PowerPoint presentation (if they are using one) into the admins by July 1, 2010. We're not doing this to be ogres, but so we have time to cancel any events that haven't been developed before Gen Con prints its programs. It's a courtesy to them that will buy us a bit of capital in years to come; last-minute cancellations are not well-regarded.

This gives you six months of development time, which should be plenty or time to organize your ideas and put them down on paper (and on hard drives).

For group collaborations, we recommend Google Docs, which will allow everyone working on an event to edit and contribute to the same document.

This agenda is subject to change, but one thing is permanent: the January 1 deadline for final events. The earlier we begin dealing with Gen Con, the better chance we'll have of selling our symposium idea.
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