Skepchickcon Report

Skepchickcon and CONvergence have been over for more than a week, but I haven’t gotten around to writing about it yet. Some of that is because I was enjoying our house guests instead. Some of it was because I went to TAM the day after those guests left. A lot of it was simply because I was still processing everything that happened. It was a packed long weekend.

The biggest and best thing to know about Skepchickcon (aside from the fact that I spent a long weekend surrounded by cool people I don’t see often enough and meeting many more) is that most of the sessions were full. Even those early in the morning had plenty of butts in seats, and those in the afternoons and evenings had people standing along the walls.

This was really good to see, but the popularity of the sessions also caused some audience frustration, I think. Panels that were meant for entry-level audiences (such as Skepticism 101) were frequently pulled into deeper waters by enthusiastic questions from more seasoned skeptics in the audience. It’s not anything impossible to fix, and I’ve already mentioned to Skepchick carr2d2 (aka Carrie Iwan) that I’m happy to help work on more specific panel descriptions next year to let audiences know better what to expect from any session.

The audiences were generally great, asking good questions and far more than we could get to in the hour each panel was given. The Physics or Fantasy panel in particular–to which we added Jim Kakalios (squee!) and Matt Lowry–generated a bunch of science fiction devices and technologies, which the rest of the panelists assessed for plausibility. Me? I moderated. I was completely outclassed in expertise, and my topics never came up. But I hope and suspect there will be more of these panels next year, where people can bring questions on various skeptical topics and let people answer them.

I had more to offer on my other panels. On several of them, particularly Science and the Internet (finding good information) and Science and the Media, I was the voice of non-academia, pushing resources for lay people that don’t require knowledge of how to read peer-reviewed papers. I was also the social media advocate, suggesting people use their current friend networks to gather information and to push out “cool” scientific findings and skeptical writing. I tried to encourage people to embrace their inner geek and use that enthusiasm to sell science and skepticism to others.

All in all, it was a great time and I think a fairly productive one. I’m not going to try to recap the panels individually, but I do want to thank my fellow panelists for being amazing. In particular, I want to thank Surly Amy and Debbie Goddard of CFI. Neither of them spoke nearly enough, but when they did, they always contributed something worth listening to.

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5 Responses to “Skepchickcon Report”

  1. July 12th, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Jason Thibeault says:

    I agree — Surly Amy and Debbie Goddard both contributed in a big way, when they did take their turns at the mic. I can’t blame either for their gunshyness though; were I in their position surrounded by so many big brains, I wouldn’t have had anything intelligible to say at all.

  2. July 12th, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Stephanie Zvan says:

    Big brains, piffle. Some of us just conformed more than others to what society tells us “brainy” is. Between the two of them, Amy and Debbie have a wealth of knowledge that the rest of us on those panels couldn’t touch. And I suspect that once you’ve been to another con or two and know what the expectations are, you’ll be doing panels just fine.

  3. July 12th, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Greg Laden says:

    I will eventually get to writing up my recollections. I was in part waiting for TAM to be over as well, not because I was a TAM but because everybody else was, so I figured if I was going to start a fight or something, I’d better wait so everyone could pile on.

  4. July 12th, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Stephanie Zvan says:

    Heh, I spent a little time on Twitter at TAM trying to defuse a fight someone else was trying to start. Not sure that any of the people in the fight were at TAM, but TAM was the excuse.

  5. July 13th, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Timothy Iwan says:

    Well said. Skepchicon 2010 exceeded expectations in every way. Makes me really excited to see what Skepchicon 2011 has in store.

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