October 31, 2003
Committee Meeting, 29 Oct 03
Deb began by apologizing for her lack of voice which permitted her to speak only in a whisper throughout the meeting.
We noted with great sadness the passing of Hal Clement. A card of sympathy was signed by the people physically present at the meeting, to be sent to Hal's wife Mary Stubbs.
In Worldcon business, we dealt with the following:
Hugo/Retro Hugo award bases. The 2004 Hugo Award bases will be designed and crafted by Boston-area fan and engineer Scott Lefton. The Retrospective Hugo Awards for 1953 will be designed and crafted by Chicagoans Patrick J. and Leah O'Connor. The specific designs will not be released until the awards are actually presented at the convention.
Annual elections were held, as provided in the MCFI Constitution. The current officers (Deb Geisler, Tim Szczesuil, and Ann Broomhead) were re-elected unopposed.
E-commerce and publicity.
- Our e-commerce site experienced two problems since our last meeting: one was a hardware problem, and we deferred our rate increase for several days while it was repaired. The other was a bit of weirdness we didn't know about. We were using NESFA's online credit card company , and were unaware that the account had been set up with a limit of $3500 per month. We obliterated that in September, doing approximately $35K of business (10 times the limit!) and their fraud department temporarily shut us down. Mike Benveniste discovered the problem and scrambled to fix it. The repair was exacerbated by the fact that that the credit card company is in what Mike refers to as "the smoking section": San Diego.
- Deb announced that we will be shamelessly exploiting a private university in Boston, Mass. (Note: Deb is in the Dept. of Communication and Journalism of Suffolk University) One group of students is arranging files of media contacts, addresses and contact information for college science departments, additional data about paid advertising, and suggestions for our PR/Marketing efforts. This group will be doing a presentation in 2-3 weeks and passing along their data. Another group will take over from them next semester, er, year, and will help in our publicity distribution and other efforts.
- This same university will be providing a group of video production and editing students who will craft a 5-10 minute video spot for us during the spring for airing on local cable access stations.
- And there's that M.A.-level college course.
- Finally, the New England School of Art and Design will be providing us with a group of graduate students in internal design who will design our concourse area.
Hugo Awards. The nomination ballots will be printed in PR5 and sent out at the beginning of December. Online balloting will also occur; Elaine Brennan is working with the people who did the ConJose online ballot. We have had no final word yet from Torcon 3 about their members or how they will handle distribution of nomination ballots to them. We have several action items:
- We must complete the ballots with corrected WSFS 2003 Constitution special exclusion language.
- We must generate PINs for all members and attach them to Reg records.
- We must generate label output for PR5 which contains the PIN information.
- We must generate labels for those who have elected not to receive PRs and send them postcards telling them how to vote online or where to download the nomination form.
New Appointments. Geri Sullivan is now Deputy Division Head for Publications. Other new appointments have been made and are listed on the N4 committee page.
Member Services. Sharon Sbarsky provided us with on-line purchase information since the last meeting, and the numbers are really impressive. Some 135 new attending were sold online in a scant month, clearly making the annoyance worthwhile. Ann Broomhead noted that the installment plan is now a monthly payment and that we have had roughly 110 or so take advantage of it so far, with 21 now paid up in full. Bonnie had the following pre-reg figures (but notes that there will be a few more put in by the end of the week, as she had been unable to process online orders for the last two weeks):
Publications. Progress Report 5 is now in production. Any changes, updates, or modifications to reports should reach Joe Siclari by the end of the week. PR 5 is expected to go to the printers by November 25. It will contain Hugo/Retro nomination forms, hotel information, many reports, etc. Also an article about Hal Clement.
Exhibits. At the Division Heads meeting last weekend, a concept for a re-design of general exhibits was suggested. This is now being batted around on the exhibits list, and we're looking at trying to re-sort and evaluate all of the fan exhibits in particular. (We are also thinking of creating a weblog to solicit ideas and feedback on the fan exhibits.) We also plan to add a major Hal Clement retrospective exhibit.
Events/Extravaganzas. Many ongoing discussions have been happening, and various events are really gelling. Events has been having productive discussions about space use, technical needs, and staffing.
Program. Priscilla Olson noted that program is building their initial invitation list and working on a new program program. (That was not redundant.) The software will be beta-tested by Boskone, and then will be used to send out N4 program letters shortly after that. Program's brainstorming blog is getting hit very regularly, with many good suggestions.
Facilities. Ben Yalow is working with our hotels to ensure that the blocks are correctly set up and ready to go. We are investigating costs for getting part of the first floor of the Hynes for convention use (most likely for Registration). Office will do cell phone coverage tests during Boskone.
Convention Services. Work here has focused processing volunteer offers more efficiently, communication at con (specifically what kinds of tech, who needs it, etc.), decorator (Jim Hudson will be coming to Boston to meet with decorators in several weeks), and insurance (including the special needs for the Retro Art Exhibit).
Timelines. A concatenated convention timeline has been created. Division-by-division timelines are being developed and will be updated (with concurrent modifications to the con-wide timeline) regularly.
Other news of note
Division heads meeting was held last weekend. There was much useful work, generating quite a few action items. Please expect to hear much more from us in the next few weeks as we all scurry off to do stuff. Among the most important stuff is getting a lot more information to everyone on the committee.
Tables at conventions. We plan tables at the following autumn conventions: Windycon (Pam Fremon), Orycon (Ruth Sachter), Capclave (Priscilla Olson), and Philcon (Sharon Sbarsky). We will not have a table at World Fantasy (but Sharon will have reg forms, just in case).
Guest of Honor note. Peter Weston is quite excited - he is now the grandfather of Matthew, an absolutely adorable little 6-week-old. Peter will be coming to Boston for Boskone in February, and he has accepted our invitation to come to the N4 Committee Open Meeting after Boskone.