Schedule Sausage

It took a lot of raw meat and a lot of grinding but the San Diego Comic Fest schedule is finished. As much as a schedule can be finished. No plan of attack survives the battle.

As Programming Coordinator for San Diego Comic Fest I saw an opportunity to bring the process into the 21st century. A lot of conventions are still relying on email and MS Word:

  1. Collect availability and panel ideas via email
  2. Create a list of programs
  3. Send this list in a Word doc to all the panelists with a pair of square brackets, [], by each item
  4. Spend days processing these docs by hand, figuring who’s interested in what programming and juggling the availability of over a hundred people

The bulk of the time is spent manipulating clusters of guests and their schedules, trying to avoid conflicts, and keeping it all in your head. But me, I like to crowdsource and I use computers to make my life easier. Here’s my process:

  1. Collect availability and panel ideas via Google Forms
  2. Schedule the panels
  3. Release the schedule on a second Google Form to the guests. They manage their own availability. This is the step that saves the most time
  4. Upload to Sched.org which handles future communications and all presentation.

That’s saves a whole lot of data entry. But there’s a lot of transitioning between mediums. From Google forms, to post-it notes, to Excel, to Sched, and email, email, email. Sched is good for presentation, but not for inception, and it could be a whole lot better at conflict recognition. I think there’s room here for a better tool. One tool to take the convention from conception through presentation with support for print.

I know what I’ll be working on this year.

But this year I’ll be Moderating How We Write on Friday at 2pm and Pop Culture Professionals: Writers Sunday at 3pm. The main upside to scheduling a con; putting yourself on whatever panel you want.

Hopefully I’ll see you there!

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