|Some closing thoughts from me now that there's been a week to figure out what worked and what didn't. |
First of all, my thanks to @Iso-t and @Commander+Koski for joining as organizers and putting in a huge lot of effort to make everything work so well! Big thanks to our quests for bringing in that positive, happy atmosphere and proactively helping out where needed, including @McLaughlins imperial shuttle to the airport and back :) I never thought the place could stay so neat and tidy for the whole weekend but things seemed to just magically work out!
I'm really happy we opted for the camp format with two nights and lodging on-site. The setup required a lot of things to be taken care of manually, but the upside of that was the freedom we had in making the most out of the time used: lots of discussions, presentations, 3(!) full-blown BBQ meals, 2 nights with sauna and Jacuzzi, a guided walk in the woods etc. Altogether 47 hours of proper Planets time! This was a format I can't recommend enough for future events!
90% of the supplies were ordered online, packed up by stuff and picked up by Koski in his Falcon on the way to the Con, this worked like a charm! The arrival of ~20 bags of groceries at once to the small kitchen was surprisingly chaotic, kudos to Faqudi for taking the lead in sorting the arrivals out. The last 10% was bought and gathered by us when we realized something was needed. This was, all things considered, a surprisingly painless effort in the end.
The most stressful part was getting the costs and ticket prices balanced. How many people would we have on which day and how much do we need to invest in food and beer, and how to split the venue cost? After getting enough commitment for preliminary pricing it was safe to book the venue and we decided to make the quality of food and drink the flexible part in cost. As a practical example, when Mursu and SMI signed up just before the camp, that money went directly to beef steaks and craft beer :) In the end we had a slight imbalance in total cost, but as we got some private sponsorship, everything worked out pretty well.
I'm somewhat biased in saying this, but I felt the presentations were really good and solid. Big big thanks to everyone involved! We had both width and depth in the material, including some discussion and thought-provoking stuff and some hardcore specialist presentations. And Emork wrapped up Saturday perfectly with a fun and energizing quiz.
Experience from previous Cons was that the presentation schedule can never hold and this was the case here too. Future Cons please take note :) Many presentations took longer than we thought and also the scheduling of the lunch was a bit off, so we finished rather late on Saturday and still had material for Sunday. The 'Turn of the Year' we had to drop altogether in the end because of simply not having the time. We only got one non-organizer entry for the competition, @Ryder+Cross got the title with his entry, detailed in the third post here: http://planets.nu/discussion/planets-con-finland-turn-of-the-year-and-face-palm-of
The streaming itself worked pretty well, but here I only later realized we could have set it up so much better! As the presentations were 'Hangouts on Air', we should've had the content presented directly into the Hangout, and have the presenter (with web camera) as a caller into the Hangout, so the broadcast would've had the slides in perfect clarity and the presenter visible too. This is something for next PlanetsCon to improve on!
Audio was lost again from one presentation and thus the seemingly paranoid backup plan of recording the audio separately turned out to be a good idea after all.
Another thing that worked really well was the website. One central place to push out information to is crucial for the conference day, as the schedule lives and online followers depend on finding the updated info to catch the streams. However something we failed to do (it was on my list but forgotten!) was deciding and promoting a central place for online commentary. Now the commentary got scattered around and much of it was not detected until way later. Again, something to improve on in the future.
Summa summarum - it was great :) Definitely joining the next European conference