So Outline ruled, but what happens next year?
I was one of the priviledged band of people who enjoyed themselves at
Outline '05 this Easter. It was a classic Atari party, not a scene direction
defining event like the Error in Line series, but certainly able to stand up
with the very best parties. The relaxing ambience, pleasant location, and
superb in-party care by the organising team all helped to make Outline the
fabulous time that it was. You can read all about it, from my account, and
also the realtime article which was collected there.
After their efforts for two years in a row, the organising team have decided
they would like to be attendees at the next party, which is entirely
reasonable, wherever the next party is going to be?
It isn't too soon to think about this issue. Everyone enjoyed Outline, and
some at the party were thinking of next year even then. So it isn't
unreasonable to start asking serious questions for next year now.
Outline '05 was lower on numbers than before, with around 35-40 people
attending, set against 70-80 from last year, and 120 plus for the last Error
in Line Party. There are particular reasons for this, one of which being
that people were uniquely unlucky this year in being prevented by
circumstance from going in the first place, when they really wanted to be
I don't think that fewer people are interested in the Atari scene than
before, and if fate had smiled on more of us, we'd be talking of a figure
closer to last years attendance for Outline '05.
Then there is the fact that the Outline parties were relatively late in
getting organised. The original Outline '04 was almost a last minute affair,
where the scene as whole had let the Easter party subject drift almost
beyond rescue. Havoc and company, for both of the last couple of years, have
carried out a heroic feat of organising these parties from scratch, and in
very little time. Indeed, if it wasn't for them, there would have been
nothing at all for the last couple of years.
So there are certain matters which need to be considered before we even get
to the next party.
Easter is generally a convenient time for a party, both as a long weekend,
and for those people in education as part of a bigger holiday.
Unfortunately, more of us are getting older, and have to work for a living,
which means that the vast acreage of time off in and around the Easter
period can no longer be taken for granted. There is also the fact that
Easter itself is getting less respected as a public holiday, and many of us
have to work through it!
In many workplaces, people have to fight more for their chosen time off. For
some perverse reason, many people on the Atariscene have chosen the kind of
jobs where this is harder to do ;-)
The first thing that occurs to me to guarantee a greater attendance in
future is to give as much notice of a party as possible. This is pertinent
if people are competing for diaryspace with collegues, let alone other life
priorities getting there first.
I can give personal examples. Years ago, I got invitations to the Fried Bits
parties. This was very nice, and I was flattered that people were seeking me
out. The only problem was, with about three weeks notice before the party,
it was far too late to do anything about it. Move on a couple of years, and
the Siliconvention '97 is being organised. One of the all-time great Atari
parties in fact. Now this wasn't a last minute venture, and I was well into
the coding party-going habit by then, but I was still not able to book the
time off, even as early as Jan/Feb time, as too many others had got there
Lately, it's been easier, my current employers understand that I like to
take the time off around Easter, and don't restrict me from doing this. But
for many others, they will need to get their name on the 2006 holiday
planner first, or join the legions of the frustrated and work-bound, come
Also the more warning given, the better to organise for finances, and even
for those rare coders who want to coincide a big production for the party.
On the other hand, most of us will leave that part of it until the last
minute, as usual ;-)
The options for next year are, as follows;
1. We could have no Easter party at all by default or accident. It is
possible to let things slide until it is too late. Then there would be weeks
of recriminations on various forums at the missed opportunities, which would
get very tedious, very quickly!
2. Another idea could be to take a conscious pause for a year. Having no
major Easter party in 2006, means we redouble our efforts for EIL 2007.
3. I'm going to say the unsayable. Accept that a large party isn't possible
any more? If this is the answer, then other important questions inevitably
follow on, like what takes its place, and how do we motivate people to
release stuff without the finality of a party deadline?
4. There is something worse than the first three answers, which is to
combine with another party. The 'Mekka Symp option' has been tried in 2002,
it won't be tried again!
5. This would be the people's first choice, the Error in Line party 4th
edition. It is no means certain that the good Atari people of Dresden will
be available for next Easter?
6. If EIL 4 is a non-starter for 2006, how about another party altogether?
Could we be coding with the Swedes next year? Or could it be something else
Whatever we do, as a collective scene, we've got to decide before too long.
If people want another party of EIL significance, whether it is at Dresden
or not, they've got to decide and have a proper plan in place before the end
of the year.
On a scurrilous note, I would also be phoning through my first pizza order
in February, to make sure it is steaming hot and ready to eat for my arrival
on the Friday evening ;-)
Anyway, I've said enough, let's hear your ideas!
CiH, for Alive Mag,part of the blur of stuff I've been doing in April '05...