drwex (drwex) wrote,

Arisia panels

I'm on two this year:

Navigating Non-Monogamy (Fri 10PM)

The World is Our Playground: Geo Games (Sun 4PM)

Unlike last year I indicated interest in more panels, gave more options for non-conflicting times, and wrote more extensive paragraphs on why I wanted to do the panels I'd picked. Still ended up with two - they did offer me a late option on a third but I'd already scheduled a conflict I couldn't back out of, so had to decline.

Being somewhat farther inside the factory this year I got a more detailed idea of how the program is put together than I've had in the past. I'm hesitant to say a lot because I don't know what's public knowledge, but it is a complex a multi-step dance that almost always involves disappointing a whole lot of people. Here are some things that happen:

- People have more ideas than there are room for panels
- Panels that seem like good ideas don't catch on, and without panelists they can't run
- Hotel spaces change; we only have X spaces that will hold Y people in Z timeslots so things that don't fit can't be run even if there is interest
- Guests of Honor will or will not do certain things or there is a desire to have certain things done. These tend to take precedence and can cause ripple disruptions in the whole schedule, not least because the GOH often have fixed items on their schedules already that cannot be adjusted.
- People back out and cancel at the last minute. If gaps can't be filled, panels don't run.
- People who want to do a given panel may not have the right temperament, personalities, or expertise for the panel. People who do not want to be on panels with certain other people cannot be scheduled for the same panels as those people, which might mean leaving off one or both. Or maybe the whole thing doesn't happen because without those people you don't have a good enough panel.
- Sometimes you have to choose between "good" and "great" and both are only semi-scientific guesses. If you need a particular panelist to make a panel great maybe you do that and sacrifice a good panel because until we get real-time cloning we still only have people in one place at a time.
- People have constraints on their schedules that make sense for them, but may not make it possible to put them onto their desired panels. They also have priorities and maybe you sac a panel that lots of people rated as "5" in order to get a couple people their #1 or #2 choices.

This entire process would be a fascinating grad-school-level constraint programming task; writing a small expert system that could generate possible schedules meeting all known constraints would be non-trivial but I think it's computationally solvable.
Tags: arisia
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