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Worldcon (and its ilk) volunteering - RonO's Ramblings

Dec. 11th, 2007 01:28 pm Worldcon (and its ilk) volunteering

This weekend at SMOFcon I didn't end up volunteering to do anything for either of the seated Worldcons, nor for any additional bids beyond the Chicago in 2012 bid which I'm fully committed to. However, I did think about volunteering.

I had several reasons for thinking about volunteering. Some of the primary ones are:

  • To gain experience for the inevitable position with the next Chicon should we win the bid for 2012.
  • To make myself as a member of the bid committee more visible as someone who does more than attend and volunteer to be on panels at the Worldcon level
  • Because I have a personality quirk that makes me feel that I should help out when help is needed, but am somewhat less likely to just jump in. (I joined the staff at DucKon originally in part because I wanted to help out but never got around to officially gophering. (That I chose DucKon instead of one of the other Chicago cons for this is for an entirely different reason))

    Helping mostly my wife and one or two other people, with the Christian Fandom party really doesn't feel like a contribution any more. (This may also be that I'm a bit burned out on running parties where I end up spending most of a day getting ready for the party instead of doing other things I'd enjoy -- which is pretty much how the last Christian Fandom party I help run at Worldcon ended up(1))

  • I think I'd enjoy myself more if I knew that I'd made a contribution and wasn't just there consuming everyone else's work

The reasons I didn't volunteer are more straight forward and might be solvable -- or at least some of them. Some of the main reasons I didn't volunteer were:

  • My shyness kicked in making it hard for me to approach anyone to offer my services, even if I could comfortably chat with them about related or unrelated topics
  • My wife thinks I am already committed enough and doesn't understand that I cannot enjoy myself if I feel I've not contributed.
  • I'm not sure where my skills could best be applied on the Worldcon stage

This last one is probably the biggest one to overcome. If I was confident where I could help out, I'd probably be more willing to offer, and wouldn't worry since my wife would know that I would make sure to schedule my role as best I can around other commitments, including ones to myself. (If she didn't know this, she probably wouldn't let me go to SMOFcon alone).

I look at the major skills and experience I have, and am not sure where they apply at the Worldcon level.

The first thing I've done that have some relationship to Worldcon is run registration for DucKon for several years. (I've also chaired DucKon, but I am in no way ready to run a Worldcon). However, I don't think that my way of running registration for DucKon would scale to the Worldcon level, even though I recognize many of the differences. This applies to both the technology aspects and the human resource aspects -- I run registration because I'm the guy who maintains the database, not the other way around.

The second thing I've done is work on the Tech Crew at my church. However, for the last several years my primary job has been the "graphics operator" which means I run Easy Worship to project lyrics for the hymns and praise songs, and then operate PowerPoint (through Easy Worship) to show the slides of the sermon notes. This is not a tech need that I see at either the Masquerade or the Hugo awards. So, unless someone is planning a mass filk sing-a-long, I don't see that skill needed. This leaves me with the help I give with set up and tear down. This I could do, but I'm not sure how well just helping with setup and tear down would fit into most of my reasons for volunteering.

Beyond directly doing one of these jobs for Worldcon instead of DucKon or the church, I can only think of some other jobs unique to Worldcon that are related to registration, such as running site selection. But from what I've observed (having spent time at site selection in LA last year), this job is more of a management position then a technology position. I can see one place where I could apply technology to help -- membership verification -- but I'd be highly dependent on how registration kept its data and how they could deliver it in order to apply technology. Short of inventing a site selection voting booth, I don't see a way to apply technology beyond the verification of membership.

So, I'm left feeling that I should probably help out, but am not sure where best to help. Unless something comes along and disturbs this momentum, I'll probably end up just attending Denvention and, hopefully, doing a panel or few.


1: In Glasgow, partly because of the lack of a subway station on Sunday, we ended up spending most of Sunday getting party supplies instead of actually going to the Con. We did some other shopping and it was also our lowest energy point of the con -- Tara was ready to return early at that point until I confirmed that changing our tickets would cost more than what we originally spent for them -- which may have aggravated my burn out on Parties. Running parties by my self for the failed ConSecration project didn't help either. Oddly enough, if there are enough hands -- like the Chibid parties at LA, I don't seem to mind as much.

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