Harris Creates New Conrunning List

Colin Harris, co-chair of the 2005 Worldcon and veteran of many other conventions, has established a new conrunning discussion list, Con-Talk.

“In taking the lead on this,” says Harris, “I’m hoping to create something that has the benefits of an email list (e.g. Push technology) and a positive environment for improving the way we share our ideas on improving conventions.”

In contrast with the Smofs list, Con-Talk has formal House Rules and Moderators.

One example of the House Rules is –

Harassment of any kind is not tolerated. This includes discrimination or prejudiced behaviour of any kind, as well as personal attacks or comments about other list members. More generally, our aim is to create a positive environment where everyone feels able to express themselves. We therefore aim to avoid the competitive communication style seen on some Internet lists. Remember – an atmosphere of trust is hard to create and easy to lose.

Harris is one of six moderators. The others are Eemeli Aro, Warren Buff, Janice Gelb, Laurie Mann, and Patty Wells. All of them have provided detailed resumes except Laurie Mann who felt it sufficed to say, “Laurie has been part of online fandom since 1988 so she isn’t afraid to use a kill file…”

There are currently 130 members. A list of those who have opted for public identification can be seen here.

I’ve been on the Smofs list since 1992. In the past six months it has reached transcendent heights of toxic unreadability, making it easy for me to understand why someone would seek a moderated alternative.

TAFF Platforms Released

Brad and Cindy Foster, Curt Phillips and Randy Smith are your official Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund candidates in the 2014 race to pick a delegate to Loncon 3. Here are their platforms and nominators —

Brad and Cindy Foster

Why Brad and Cindy? Because they are one mind in two bodies. (They wish they had two minds, but that’s asking too much.) Because between them they have covered almost all the fannish bases. And, because this is probably the only way they will ever get to see London. He draws pictures – lots of them, and has lived the life fannish through zines and locs. (A paper-person.) She has been social (a people-person) through conventions and conversations. He’ll have to look you up in his files to remember which zine you pub, but she’ll remember your name, face, and family history.

Nominators: Mike Glyer (US), Andy Hooper (US), Steven Silver (US), David Langford (UK), Yvonne Rowse (UK).

Curt Phillips

I am a fan. I guess I always have been; I think I always will be. I’ve collected more science fiction than I’ll ever have time to read, but I keep on collecting more. I’ve written for and published fanzines; I’m the OE of FAPA. Have done many other fannish things in my time, both usual and unusual. But I’ve never traveled outside America. I’d very much to meet some of the wonderful fans in the UK and from across Europe as your TAFF delegate, and then come home to write about my adventures for you. Please support TAFF! Vote!

Nominators: Randy Byers (US), Ulrika O’Brien (US), John Purcell (US), Claire Brialey (UK), Pat Charnock (UK).

Randy Smith

Fandom is a conversation that began in the letter columns of the 1920s pulps and now extends around the world. As active participants in that conversation, we can look for new ways to expand, strengthen, and create new and divergent paths of exchange. We truly never know where it will take us. The TAFF delegate to LonCon 3 will be able to contribute in some small and unforeseen ways to that creative conversation. I would be honored if that person were me. I also promise a speedy appearance of my trip report.

Nominators: Christopher J. Garcia (US), Mark Olson (US), Kevin Standlee (US), Colin Harris (UK), Patrick McMurray (UK).

[Thanks to Jim Mowatt for the story.]

Another TAFF Candidate Announces

Randy Smith has entered the 2014 TAFF race. On his Facebook page he posted “I am informed by the TAFF administrators that my name will appear on the ballot for 2014. Many thanks to my nominators: Christoper J Garcia, Kevin Standlee, Mark Olson, Colin Harris, and Pat McMurray!”

This makes a three-way race, Curt Phillips and Brad and Cindy Foster having announced a few weeks ago. The nominating deadline is December 31, leaving open the possibility one or two more fans may decide to vie for the trip to the 2014 Worldcon in London.

[Thanks to Chris Garcia for the story.]

Harris: Renovation Kiva Reaches Goal

[This is an update about the Kiva team started by members of the Renovation Worldcon committee. Kiva provides financial services such as small loans to low-income individuals and those without access to typical banking services, often in the Third World.]

By Colin Harris: Since you enquired before, I thought you might like to know that the Kiva lending team I set up for Renovation has just achieved its original objective of lending over $10,000. We didn’t quite make our original target of hitting that number by the convention – but that was deliberately a stretch target, and this was also unknown territory in terms of knowing what to expect as a response. I am really grateful to the 20 people who’ve joined the team and consistently loaned and re-loaned their money to individuals around the world over the last two years. In total we have made 284 separate loans in over 40 countries. See http://www.kiva.org/team/renovationsf for details.

Helping the Worldcon, and the World Too

Colin Harris piqued my curiosity when he invited Renovation committee members to help him form a Kiva team. Kiva is an organization that facilitates microfinance, providing financial services such as small loans to low-income individuals and those without access to typical banking services, often in the Third World. The team would be independent of and unrelated to the Worldcon, the members simply having that fannish connection in common.  

So far 17 team members have stepped forward. They have put $4,025 out to loan in 102 transactions.

I had not heard of Kiva before and asked Colin, a past Worldcon chair (2005) and part of this year’s Worldcon committee, to tell me more. He wrote:

I thought that creating a Renovation team was a nice idea because I was sure there would already be Renovation members who were also Kiva lenders and that they would enjoy this chance to link their interests together. I also thought that it would raise the profile of Kiva with Renovation members who’ve never heard of Kiva or microfinance, and maybe encourage some new people to join. So it reflects my personal support for Kiva and what it stands for.

The first key point to say straight away is that this isn’t an official Renovation activity (hence for instance you won’t find it linked from our website or discussed in the PRs). As I’m sure you know very well, things like official con charities are very contentious and within any staff or member community there will be a spectrum of opinion from

“conventions should have nothing to do with “causes” as they are inherently political (with a small “p” at least).”

to

“science fiction as a genre is highly sensitive to the future of the world and of society and the SF genre and SF fans have an opportunity, indeed almost a duty, to try and make the world a better place.”

The idea for the group was mine, and I openly admit to appreciating both of the above views. SF IS a genre of the future, full of stories that help us think about the world we are in now or the one we’re creating, and I have always met many fans who (as fans or professionally) are concerned to make the world better. However I also believe that it’s wise to avoid such initiatives becoming official convention activities because there IS a diversity of views about any specific cause and that can become divisive. Far better in my experience to provide space for special interest groups etc, so that fandom helps those who want to come together, while not forcing participation or contribution on people against their will.

This is an open team — anyone can join, click on http://www.kiva.org/team/renovationsf

The first step is to create a personal account on Kiva. You deposit funds, then you choose who to lend them to. Colin explains:

This creates a direct connection between lender and receiver which makes the experience much more tangible for lenders. The idea is to spread risk, so a loan of $1000 total will typically be covered by e.g. 20 people lending $50 each in case of a default. (You lend in units of $25).

When funds are repaid to your account, you can lend them again, or withdraw them – so it really is a loan arrangement, not a charity donation.

Teams are just way of affiliating the loans you make to a social group. If you’re a member of a team (and you can be in none, one, or more than one), then when you loan you get asked if you want to count your loan against that team.

I am very taken with the idea of micro-finance as a way to encourage sustainable development in a tangible way, rather than an aid dependency culture. I’ve been a member of Kiva for about 18 months now myself.

Much Ado About Who

Doctor Who’s David Tennant and Catherine Tate will perform Much Ado About Nothing in London’s West End this summer and tickets are going fast. BBC reports:

The stars will portray reluctant lovers and constant sparring partners Beatrice and Benedick in the Bard’s comedy.

It will be Tate and Tennant’s first appearance together since starring in BBC One’s Doctor Who. The play, directed by Josie Rourke, will open at Wyndham’s Theatre on 1 June and run until 3 September.

The production was announced on Friday. Colin Harris, past Worldcon chair, lives in London and hurried to snap up some tickets. He reports that nearly all the good seats were gone in the first 48 hours on sale. He predicts the whole run will have booked up in another week.

London Bids for 2014 Worldcon

A bid to bring the 2014 Worldcon to London was officially announced on April 2 at the British Eastercon by spokesman Chris Priest.

The committee proposes to hold the con August 14-18, 2014 in the new International Convention Centre, part of the ExCeL exhibition centre complex in London’s Docklands. 

Leading the bid are co-chairs Steve Cooper and Mike Scott. Steve headed the Publications division for the 2005 Glasgow Worldcon, and is the deputy Facilities division head for 2011 Worldcon in Reno. Mike has extensive Worldcon experience, and co-edits the Hugo award-winning fanzine Plokta.

There are two Deputy Chairs. James Bacon, a former TAFF winner, also co-chaired the 2009 Eastercon. Alice Lawson was the Member Services division head at Interaction and chaired the 2001 Eastercon.

Other members are Claire Brialey, Secretary, co-editor of Banana Wings; John Dowd, Treasurer; Rita Medany, Membership, who is chairing the 2010 Eastercon; and two Advisers, past Worldcon chairs Vince Docherty and Colin Harris.

The bid, and the convention itself, will be non-profit-making organisations run entirely by unpaid volunteers. The bid will be primarily financed by the sale of “pre-supporting” and “friend” memberships, costing £12 and £60 respectively and giving discounts on membership of the convention itself. See the bid website for more details.

The full press release follows the jump.

[Thanks to Mike Scott for the story.]

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Future Worldcon/NASFiC Bids

It’s a good idea to compile this info and put it someplace I can find it again:

Seated Worldcons

2009

Anticipation, Montreal (http://www.anticipationsf.ca/English/Home)

2010

Aussiecon 4, Melbourne (http://www.aussiecon4.org.au/)

Bids for future WSFS Conventions

2010 NASFiC

Raleigh, NC

2011

Seattle (http://seattlein2011.org/)
Reno (http://www.rcfi.org/)

2012

Chicago http://www.chicagoin2012.org/

2013

Texas (Maybe) (Bid website under construction http://www.texas2013.org/) (They’re said to be investigating Ft. Worth, Houston and San Antonio.)

Zagreb (Maybe) (See Cheryl Morgan’s blog http://www.cheryl-morgan.com/?p=1560) (Colin Harris has speculated Zagreb may move to a later year than 2013, following the next UK/NL Worldcon.)

2014 or 2015

UK or the Netherlands (Ansible quoted James Bacon saying that three UK facilities are pursuing the con, and there are also three prospective Netherlands sites.)

2015 or 2016

San Diego (See Kevin Standlee’s post: http://kevin-standlee.livejournal.com/446909.html. Last December, Jim Briggs posted that 2015 was “penciled in.”) (Val Ontell has said she is looking into the possibility of hosting a World Fantasy Con as the stepping stone to a Worldcon bid.)

This Week in Words: Worldconned

Colin Harris read someone claim on the Smofs list that there are people using “Worldcon” as a verb. He answered by creating this conjugation of the verb “to Worldcon”…

I worldconned this year, attended the Hugos and Masquerade and had fannish fun.”

You went to an SF convention and were a bit nerdy.”

He wasted a weekend with a bunch of badly dressed people with beards and glasses.”

(Harris chaired Interaction in 2005, so he is a fully qualified Worldcon artist.)