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Subject:Picocon
Time:08:46 pm
Picocon used to be the annual one-day student SF convention at Imperial College in London. As of last year it became a two-day convention, this year taking place yesterday and today. It's cheap, it's the only regular SF convention in central London, and the venue is in walking distance of my home.

The trouble is that so far what used to be a fun one-day con with a lot of interesting content has become a somewhat less fun two-day con with padding.

Last year the programming was OK but not brilliant both days, I ended up skipping the Sunday because I wasn't feeling well.

Yesterday's schedule was reasonably good at first with two interesting items before lunch, another two after, but that was followed by two hours of turkey reading before a film in the evening, one I didn't particularly want to see. My tolerance for turkeys is not huge, as a result I was out of there by four or so.

Today's schedule was two interesting items before lunch, a two hour lunch break, one program item afterwards that was described by the one word "Golem", then two hours of "silly games" before a pub quiz. In the end I decided to give it a miss, because it was going to soak up a lot of time if the afternoon sucked. I have no idea how things actually turned out, but I got the impression that others made a similar decision.

My feeling here is that the move to two days may have been a mistake - students may like it, but if they want to attract more outsiders they really need to up their game considerably. And anyone who turns up on the Sunday only is likely to feel badly let down.

I'd be interested to find out what those who did attend today thought of it.
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pwilkinson
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Time:2015-02-16 07:02 pm (UTC)
As it happened, I enjoyed the programming a little bit more on Sunday than Saturday, though Saturday was the better day socially. Not that Sunday was a total social washout - I'd guess there were only about half the number of non-students around compared with Saturday, mostly doing both days but a handful of Sunday-only ones, but that still left enough for socialising.

A combination of getting there a few minutes earlier, already having bought membership and things running a little bit late meant that I got to most of la_marquise_de_'s solo item rather than just the Q&A as with Frances Hardinge on Saturday. And, unlike Cory Doctorow's item on Saturday morning, both Sunday morning items were mostly (if not entirely) about science fiction and/or fantasy. The "Golem" item was an interesting if slightly rambling historical talk on golems in literature and, as on Saturday, there was in fact a panel with the two guests for the day before they switched to what can't in the end have been more than an hour of "silly games" (I waited around a bit after the panel for them to start, but ended up losing patience and going over to the bar instead). And the pub quiz, well, was a Picocon pub quiz, with the few non-students still around (including me and vicarage) constituting about half of one of the three teams. I ended up getting away from Picocon rather after 7pm rather than just before 6 as on Saturday.

Having said that, holding the con over two days rather than one definitely doesn't seem to double the fun; and I suspect that Sunday wouldn't have seemed to work for me if I hadn't met up with most people on Satuday and also if I hadn't actually wanted to see Sunday's guests in action. And, indeed, if I hadn't been using up leave on Friday and today, meaning I could push standard weekend chores onto them instead.
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ffutures
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Time:2015-02-16 07:13 pm (UTC)
OK, so not quite as bad as it seemed from the fairly sparse description, but still not wonderful. Thanks!
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alexmc
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Time:2015-02-16 10:37 pm (UTC)
Not happy about putting guests on so early. It is very difficult to get across London that early, let alone friends coming from out of town.

I think lots of people felt it was one days worth of programming spread across two days.
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ffutures
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Time:2015-02-17 10:59 am (UTC)
Definitely - despite good intentions I didn't get there until midway through the first speaker on Saturday. And I think that there were tube repairs on some lines which can't have helped.
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