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It's Him -

A different review of BJC2014

Although I was on the crew and spent quite some time doing that I am not going to focus on the workshops because apart from the two I ran I didn't see any. Everyone else who ran a workshop is a complete star and I apologise to Marcen and Bekka in that whilst their workshops were on the internet version of the timetable they didn't get transferred to the hard copy. I would be interested to know how many people used the online timetable as it took a huge amount of time but possibly wasn't recognised as a good thing.

So anyway, we arrived on Thursday and the family sorted out the caravan whilst I went shopping. I came back to find the awning had been erected which was great for me but less so for Tracey as she has been suffering with muscle strains in her shoulder and injured herself more. I spent about 40 minutes getting the caretakers to give us access to the water point and later we were given a guided tour of the site by Kat Bown. This was the only time I went in to the main hall. Went to bed early after having made some mental notes of where things would be going and what signs were needed.

Friday was expectedly busy with Topper and the God Emperor himself being extremely helpful in getting signs put up in appropriate places. I also managed to get the caretakers to clear the whole workshop area which was fantastic as I was expecting to have to do that myself with whomever we could rope in. It was a bit weird with all the teaching staff still in the building but we managed. About 3pm I was asked to manage the hard standing area and spent most of the next 5 hours playing tetris with caravans. About 3 hours in I realised that I had put a van right at the back that needed to leave on Sunday and so we broke the school rules by driving him on the grass and dodging tents. We were rapidly running out of space to put vans and were lucky no more came than did. Tracey did a grand job of feeding me in stages as I directed traffic. I was also lucky to sample some of Little Pauls' Lemon Drizzle Cake, which was delicious.

Saturday started with a fire alarm. The fire assembly point was the MUGA (multi-use games area) which was of course locked. Later in the convention one of the crew would acquire the key but would not appear when the next fire alarm went off until after we were allowed back in. Much of the day was a blur. I do remember the 5 ring circus show which was performed by a group of 19 young people and lasted about an hour. A few bits of this I had seen performed before but it was still most impressive and professional. In many ways it was the most cohesive show of the whole event probably because there was no compere and therefore the segues had been thought about in more detail. The range of skills displayed was also good and the bravery of the kids who went to the top of the three high standing pyramid was immense. I wouldn't have wanted to do it, even if there were a strong enough crew to hold me.

Sunday Tracey and I managed to get in 20 minutes passing practice before the BJG meeting. Bryn managed to get a photo of this. It was the only time I juggled clubs all week. The BJG meeting was started by Jack and hijacked by Ewan and Ron (most discourteously I thought, I am sure they had their reasons but it would have been politer to let Jack go through his talk before presenting their thoughts), I left after 20 minutes. I ran my complete beginners Devil Stick workshop, hopefully it was appreciated. Eventually 4pm occured and we all headed into Sheffield. Most of the Milton Keynes crew were on the same bus and were in high spirits. Mark decided that he would do a selfie with everyone on the bus (apart from the driver) and these are now somewhere in facebook land. We managed to find a pizza hut to eat at (along with at least 30 other jugglers) and this seemed to be more than the restaurant could cope with as service was slow and they made a couple of mistakes (resulting in price reductions and extra pizza). From there we made our way to the show venue and after a brief discussion with the usherette lady who seemed to think that just because half of the group had stall tickets and half had gallery that meant we couldn't sit together, we went in. At this point I am going to turn in to a grumpy old juggler. The balloon chains are now so old hat that they are passe. I may have been one of the people who instigated the idea back in the 90s but I am now very bored of them. It is time for those jugglers with imaginations to come up with a completely different way of amusing the audience before the show starts. It used to be paper aeroplanes, now it is balloon chains, maybe next year it can be something original and amusing. The show was the usual mish mash of good and not so good acts. I felt the Voodoo act was not really suited to the cabaret stage and the music conflicted with Pete's commentary. Emil Dahl's act was to downbeat (especially after the diabolo team) to close the show. Why we needed another Wes Peden clone I don't know. I've seen this style of act many times and whilst I can appreciate the difficulty of the technical moves this act has very little appeal to me now and I'd like to see something that is truly different. The diabolo act was a case in point. Unfortunately the girl was a bit droppy (especially after she had pulled off a hard trick and then relaxed) but the two guys were solid, the extra long string I imagine spurred many to try that trick and the breaking of the fourth wall with an extremely long throw was magical. The technicality was superb throughout and the show was upbeat, it should have closed. Other acts that stood out for me (and I apologise for not knowing the names) were the vest guy, the guy with the saw and surprisingly the chinese pole guy. I had assumed all the way through his act that he was cheating and so was surprised to find that he wasn't. After getting back to the site I had to work but around 01:30 managed to get in with a game of poker. Fortunately there were a couple of players who weren't very experienced and the cards were falling in my favour and I walked away with a £10 profit.

Monday dawned. I was very busy during the day. I managed to fit in a 90 minute practice of the Concrete Circus act just before BYJOTY. In general I would say that the level of acts were similar to last year and though I didn't vote for him I could understand why Arthur won. His was the most polished routine and his performing experience (I had seen him in the show at Ball Ring) showed. My vote went to Cal Courtney because of the character he brought to the stage. His act was much more droppy but still a very high technical level. After the routines and the voting had finished the best trick competition began. Just before that I had encouraged my younger son to take part because there is no-one else his age doing the tricks he can do. He managed to pull off the first of his two hardest tricks first time, the second took more attempts but he still landed it after a few goes. After that I could tell he didn't know what to try as a third trick but he tried a couple of things that didn't work. As a ten year old going up against people twice his age he may have won because he was half the size of the other competitors but he still did two extremely difficult and awesome tricks, neither of which I can do. About 00:30 I managed to get some practice time for my show the next day. I was interrupted about half way through by the security guards clearing the area of people who might want to sleep upstairs (something I had mentioned to Bryn on the Saturday). Practice went ok but I kept forgetting the last few moves.

Tuesday. The day was mainly taking up with shows. At 10am Concrete Circus were practicing their show for about 90 minutes. After that I was involved in the tech rehearsal for the open stage. Then came the tech rehearsal for the Youth Circus show and then came the two shows themselves. At some point I realised that I wasn't going to have time to get the workshop boards done and fortunately Miark stepped in to the job and got it all done admirably. The kids pretty much nailed their act in a Youth show that had a much bigger audience than the 20 or so who turned up last year. I think the audience enjoyed a high level of skill and comedy from people aged 6 to 20. I didn't get to see the Torwood Wheeler show as I was backstage at the time. My act was on second which meant that I didn't have to worry about waiting for too long. It started well enough but about 30 seconds in I realised that my trousers were slipping down and that the bottoms of the legs were now under my feet. This made my act somewhat static. I survived with about 3 drops and with my trousers not around my ankles but the show could have been better. After the show the acts were treated to a buffet meal. This was a nice treat from Kat and her crew.

Wednesday. Another blur of a day. I went to the business meeting which was well managed by Lorri. I didn't agree to be on the crew next year as this year had been so frantic that I had had no time for myself. I will probably still offer a workshop or two and may be involved in one or more of the shows. I got to see my daughter perform in the kids renegade which was my only involvement in that this year. After which we all turned into the bat family and headed to the atrium. Various people took our photo but I have yet to see a copy of Bat-Roders' Assembled. The wait before the award ceremony and then the show was way too long and shortly after the show we all went to bed.

Thursday was spent clearing up, saying goodbye and making sure our awning wasn't destroyed like last year. We left about 15:30 and pretty much collapsed when we got home. I go away from BJC tired, hoping that I did a good job and proud of what my family did. 


Chris - - Parent

RE: The online timetable.

It certainly piqued my interest before the convention started, and gave me an idea of what sort of workshops to look out for. I didn't use it at all during the convention however, and I don't remember anyone else using it either (although I could be totally wrong about that).

It was a shame that the boards were only displaying the workshops for that day. I missed a few early workshops because the board hadn't been updated when I had gone to check. I was impressed by the range on offer though. I particularly enjoyed learning to throw knives (I think the guys name was John).

It's Him - - Parent

The workshop boards for the next day appeared the day before on each occasion but sometimes they appeared relatively late. There was a number of reasons for this. Firstly the smaller white boards were only painted on the Friday and as they were supposed to take three days to cure couldn't be used immediately. The CircusWorks workshops in the Atrium on the Monday and Tuesday were only decided in the afternoon of the Sunday and so whilst the signup sheets were on the reg desk before everyone left at 4pm the boards weren't completely finished until later. There was also the problem that I had over committed myself to doing a number of things (two shows, the workshop co-ordination and supplying various kit including one of the aerial rigs and one of the tightropes) and as the week progressed I ended up with less and less time. Interestingly the online timetable was much more up to date than the whiteboards until we got to Tuesday. the aerial sessions never made it on to the online version because they were all signed up by the time I had a free moment to do it.


It's Him - - Parent

Also John Taylor was the knife throwing person. His workshops were regularly oversubscribed. He has a facebook page or‎ is a starting link but less useful.


mike.armstrong - - Parent

How feasible is it to run the workshop board from a projector? Then it doesn't need writing up each day, the online version and the "workshop board" stay in sync and it can be made mahoosively wall-sized very easily

It's Him - - Parent

At Carton, very feasible. They had on the stage a very large white board with built in projector that could be used.


emilyw - - Parent

A white board that you could also draw on?

Little Paul - - Parent

have you ever tried to use a smartboard?

In my experience, they're fine for drawing arrows or circling things on powerpoint presentations - but they right royally suck for writing anything as the pens/sensors drift out of alignment at the slightest provocation - and writing when your pen is 2" away from where the text is appearing is erm...

Or did you mean a real whiteboard you happen to be projecting onto?

emilyw - - Parent

I mean, does whatever thing Nigel is describing facilitate jugglers adding workshops without requiring IT assistance :-)

It's Him - - Parent

Not sure, I didn't play with it but I'd assume that IT would be needed at some point.

What we didn't have the chance to use was the schools information screens, which could have shown the workshops for the next hour or other useful info.


Richard Loxley - - Parent

I used the online timetable before I arrived, and then again on the first day to plan my week.

After that I just referred to the boards each day because (a) it was more convenient (b) I suspected they had more chance of being up-to-date.

But seeing the provisional timetable for the whole week in advance was very useful to me.

^Tom_ - - Parent

Workshop planning/online timetable

I've been thinking about making a number of tools to help BJC organisation in general, and one I'm thinking about at the moment in particular is workshops.

The idea would be a tool where you can input/import workshops offered, spaces available (with times), arrange the workshops within those slots, and view/display the resulting schedule.

I'm a believer in the idea of if it's good, people will use it, and if people don't use it, it needs to be better... so a) it will take some time and with before it will be ready for use, b) if anyone else (*cough* Orin *cough*) is working on anything similar, please get in touch as I have some ideas, and c) whoever next year's workshop coordinator is going to be, it'd be nice to hear from them/maybe someone can let me know when one is appointed.

Orinoco - - Parent

We've had a timetable system on the Edge for ages, but no one has used it yet. Here's an example timetable created on the dev site.

Sadly very few event organisers are bothering to list their own event on the Edge yet, let alone create a timetable :(

Even if they did there are still some issues with my system. Most notably (as pointed out to me by Nigel last week) it is a good idea to wait until you are on site & can assess the workshop locations before assigning a workshop to a place in case it isn't suitable. My system currently requires you to assign workshops to spaces in advance.

I'm thinking of doing away with the locations completely & just stacking the workshops happening at the same time together. It will quickly become apparent if there has been too much scheduled for the same time because there will be a big bulge. However, you've got to put the locations in at some point, otherwise no one will know where to go. I can't see that adding in the locations during last minute site set up will be something anyone is going to have time to do.

I'm also thinking about adding some new fields to the workshops for prop type & difficulty level. I thought the colour coding of all the beginner workshops that Nigel used was a very good idea, but I think colour coding by prop type would have worked better. For example all the passing workshops being in one colour, ball juggling another etc. would allow people looking to improve in a particular area to find what they want more easily.

emilyw - - Parent

When I did it in 2012 I did "tracks" and gave each track a space and a separate calendar, and then did my best to give away the track and its space and its calendar to someone better at organising it than me.

That way the subjects got different colours automatically when I stuck them online.

There were enough space constraints ("need mirrors/chairs/height/quiet", etc etc) that I was pretty glad of having all the space allocation done well in advance. There is always SO much to do when you hit site that it's nice to be able to just copy it all out there and get on.

emilyw - - Parent

So if I was making such a thing I have some use cases in mind.

1. Generating a big word document with full descriptions of workshops and bios of workshop-givers. I did this by hand in 2012 and keeping it in sync was annoying. I printed it and stuck it up above the workshop board.

2. Phone usability. If someone can identify the stuff they are interested in and maybe subscribe to its calendar and get reminders?

3. Giving away permission to edit bits of the timetable (e.g. the youth circus bit, or the Pass-Out bit).

Orinoco - - Parent

1. The Edge system allows you to write as much as you like about each workshop.
2. I still haven't got into this smartphone thing, so I'm really not up to speed on best practices. I could create a link that would export a workshop via vcalendar, would that be any good? What about a Twitter client that tweets the next round of workshops 10 minutes to the hour?
3. Anyone with High Command access to an event can edit its timetables.

emilyw - - Parent

1. Writing as much as I like is not really the problem, it's keeping the calendar view of the data in sync with the big long document view. I might have a play with open document format if the data is wranglable.

2. vCalendar doesn't cope well with things that change after the import (which workshops are always doing). This is where the embedded google calendars win... In fact, exporting from more structured data to to google calendars could be the ultimate solution (this is what Dee did for Nigel this year).

3. If third parties are scheduling a track, it's good to be able to limit their access to their own track so they can't accidentally move the public show! - and the timetable is better with all the shows on, both for people scheduling workshops they are giving and for people planning their day.

But as soon as you start competing with calendars you get into all the nitpicky detail that calendars have. Could be a huge rabbit hole!

Orinoco - - Parent

1. I could easily[1] produce a page that lists:

Workshop Title
Date, time, location

Taking data from the timetable so you'd only need to update one. The document could be filtered by tag (track), difficulty level etc.

Bios would work best if separate from the workshop blurb because there are many stars who run multiple workshops. I can't think of many reasons why this couldn't work as just a static document, a database solution seems a bit overkill.

The good thing about having to assign a location at the start is that it highlights the workshops that don't have a location ;)

2 & 3 yep, good points.

More pie in the sky thinking: what about a workshop board listing the workshop title & a QR code that points to a page with more info (The QR code page on the Edge will already create a code for any timetables that are set up). For those that really go to town on their workshops with handouts & such like it would be a good place to link to the handout in pdf, videos of the skills to be taught etc.

A festival email list which sends out a daily digest of the workshops, shows, weather warnings etc with links to more info? Do people want info pushed onto them?

[1] In fact that will only take a few minutes. Here's the first day's worth of workshops from BJC 2014:

Timetable view
Document view

emilyw - - Parent

My big document had the bios directly under each workshop but eliding duplicates. A standalone bio document would be simpler, but I'd still have to track which bios I had received and which not. I didn't put date/time/location on my workshop blurb document because I wanted it to not go out of date.

The thing about assigning a location/time up front is that the data often starts coming in before the team have really even locked down the workshop locations, and before the workshop givers can commit to dates and times. Several wanted a gander at the "other stuff" schedule first.

Got no idea about QR codes, do most people know what to do with those? I liked the idea of people just being able to read down the document looking for things that sounded interesting. I didn't get any handouts.

Putting the location across the top of the calendar view is a thing that only happens because it makes it easy to draw on a whiteboard I think. In your example because the workshops are sparse it just serves to make everything wide and harder to read... and who really looks at the board thinking "what workshops can I go to that are held in the atrium"?

The MOST AWESOME thing would be if I (as an attendee) could mark up the workshops before, like "MUST SEE, maybe interesting, not interested" and then see my custom view where the boring stuff is gone completely and the must see stuff hits me with a brick ten minutes before it starts. I also want a pony but I guess it would not be allowed on site.

Personally when I see a QR code I have an irresistible compulsion to sticker over it with this

Orinoco - - Parent

Just doing some quick & dirty prototyping. Try the Document view again, each workshop now has an I don't care link which hides that workshop (requires javascript). Hidden workshops are stored to the device so will work for non-Edgenaughts.

& you can always have a pony.

Do you still have a copy of said document from 2012? I don't remember it from the event itself. Would be very useful to take a look at it.

emilyw - - Parent

Coo that document view is getting interesting, although the repetition of the "I don't care" text might have strange subliminal effects!

Orinoco - - Parent

Indeed, I just threw my shit into a bag & pushed it down the stairs.

Thanks for the file which is very helpful.

For the workshop coordinator I think the time/location grid is the most useful for allocating new workshops to a free time/space slot. For attendees though I think you are right in that this is not the most efficient way of presenting the details on a workshop board.

Time is important because you can't attend two workshops simultaneously (this also covers being in two places simultaneously so location information is not important), plus you might not get up before 11am & may not be there on Thursday. So workshops definitely need to be presented along a timeline.

Instead of locations which could potentially be empty how about always using the next available cell in the timeslot's row/column & then drawing a symbol representing what the workshop is for. I think people would prefer to scan the board looking for a prop.

In our example there were up to 6 workshops in an hour, meaning the 14 horizontal spaces representing all the available workshop locations could be condensed into something much more readable.

Any talented artists up for creating an icon set for:

Balls - a generic 4 panel juggling ball with a number for however many required
Clubs - as above with a club
Rings - as above with a ring
Diabolo - as above with a diabolo
contact juggling - a hand at 45 degrees with a ball on the back as if halfway through a butterfly
Cigar boxes, Devil stick, Kendama, Unicycle, whip, lasso, knife throwing - picture of prop
Hula hoop - a person with a hula hoop around the waist
Staff - Person twirling a staff
Acro - 2 people in a flag
Games - 2 die
Passing - over head view of two people facing each other with arrows pointing from right to left hands combined with prop: club, ball, ring
Dance - foot prints with arrows
Magic - rabbit in a hat
Other - question mark

Any more?

I'd suggest the icons be simple line drawings that scale well & can easily be copied onto a workshop board by hand if necessary. It'd be nice to have a standard set of glyphs that can be used by other websites & festivals so that they become more effective with familiarity. I'd like something ~100px square to use on the document view. RegularJugular do you still have the original svg files you used for the Edge banners? There is a lot of good stuff in there that could be used.

Mïark - - Parent

I think it might also be useful to have big events on the timetable too. At this year they had a paper timetable of big events and you could write the workshops you were going to on it. But without such a system I might think twice (or make preparations beforehand) before going to a workshop that lasted for 3-4 if I knew I had to get the bus to the gala show at 4.

If you wanted to be really computery and funky you could have the location description link to a map/plan of venue showing where the workshop was located within the venue.

^Tom_ - - Parent

"For the workshop coordinator I think the time/location grid is the most useful for allocating new workshops to a free time/space slot. For attendees though I think you are right in that this is not the most efficient way of presenting the details on a workshop board."

For the workshop coordinator I think you're right I also think that any tool with stuff wot i don't really understand to enable the coordinator to drag workshops around would be incredibly useful. when I edited mine in a spreadsheet, cut and paste worked... but not perfectly, and only from a real computer.

Even for punters, I think that a location/time grid is the most ideal way of doing it. a) they're the only 2 keys which, when combined, provide uniqueness*. b) they're the information that people need to get to the workshop. c) it allows you to mark times and locations of shows/inaccessibility (rehearsals etc)*. d) I actually think some people look at the board and think about themselves needing to move from *points* over there to *points* over here at such and such a time.

the problems are:
i) fitting the whole table on board/screen
ii) the third and fourth keys of prop type and difficulty.

ii) can be fixed on a computer by giving someone a button to change from time vs location to whatever vs whatever, but the hard copy is never going to be easy.

* the key point for a and c is that you can't offer a workshop at the same time and place as another one**, and if this isn't clear, then people will try to offer clashing workshops.

The lesser point is that the workshop board is (or can be) used as a a general timetable as well as just workshops (ie games, buses, shows etc).

** well, if you consider outside, or hall, or (for example an off-site workshop) just a meeting point, then this is no longer true, but a good system could cope with this (while also making it clear that you're trying to be the 10th workshop at the same time I the hall - depends on the exact space - probably would have worked last year, probably not this year).

Little Paul - - Parent

"fitting the whole table on board/screen"

Can I just say that when I eventually found it, I found the "list view" version of the google calendar really handy this year. Especially once I worked out how to make it add the workshops I was interested in to the calendar on my phone.

I still managed to miss John/Tiffs balancing workshop though, which was one of only two workshops I was interested in going to :)

emilyw - - Parent


1. co-ordinator needs to shuffle workshops around space and time in order that everything has a space and time, and various constraints are fulfilled.
2. workshop giver wishes to offer a workshop (six months before event)
3. workshop giver wishes to offer a workshop (during event)
4. individual track co-ordinator needs to shuffle workshops in time but perhaps not space, within their limited purview.
5. two weeks before event, workshop/track co-ordinator needs to negotiate time slots with givers of offered workshops
6. before or during event, user wishes to skim read what is available over the week
7. during event, user wishes to plan their day
8. user wishes (having planned their day) to be reminded of what is where and when so they can actually go there.
9. workshop co-ordinator needs to track use of limited resources such as portable amp
10. workshop giver wishes to quickly see their commitments and double check for clashes (with their own workshops or with other events they are interested in).

discuss! :-)

Orinoco - - Parent

Right then, got quite a bit further today. We now have 4 different views to play with. There are links to switch between them & also links to filter by category at the bottom. Conflicts are highlighted in red.

What do people think?

Traditional table

I don't like this view, I think we have stuck with it through inertia. This often gets large & unwieldy with so many time slots/locations. I did get drag & drop placement of workshops working using the same code that I use for reordering sections on the customise index page. However, because the table is so large dragging it to a position off the screen really didn't work smoothly at all. I got really fed up with it & found that just editing the time/location was considerably faster.

I've improved adding/editing workshops in that if there is a conflict the editworkshop form displays suggestions for alternative locations that are free at the same time & alternative times when the location is free.


I initially really liked this but have since gone off it a bit because of the timeline issue. Time runs down the page, so as you scroll down, time should move forward, but because the number of workshops in a given timeslot can alter the time/distance scrolled connection is broken & I have no idea what time I am looking at. This makes this view very difficult to use to plan your day because it is not immediately obvious which workshops clash with which.

Detailed list

My second favourite view. I like this because I am a data freak. I know I'm not the only one.

Small panels

Could possibly be more useful if level & workshop leader information is included as well?

This is my favourite view because it is so simple. It fits & scales horizontally on screen well. Even when the number of workshops wraps to 2 or three panels deep I still keep the sense of time.

I think there is a lot more tweaking that could be done & there are more optimal solutions to be had by combining features from different views.

emilyw - - Parent

oh cool! that's super!

For me the primary use cases for the document view are pre-convention browsing, and long-description-looking-up during the convention (from the printed version). In 2012 there was a list of workshops on the website substantially before the times and locations were sorted - you can't really do times much in advance because flaky people. So ideally some view or other could accommodate that.

They could be in alphabetical order and then you would for sure know where in the alphabet you were.

I love #3 and think it could have the description under each row? expandable perhaps?

The traditional view is still important as long as it's necessary to copy it to a physical workshop board. As Tom said, on a board people need to be able to add workshops without generating a time/space clash. And the faster you can write those boards up the more time you have to drink beer.

oOooo innovation!

Orinoco - - Parent

Clicking the title of the workshop in the list view brings up all the details including the description.

Is it necessary to use the traditional view for the physical board? I think the number of people browsing to attend a workshop far outweighs the number of people browsing to offer one so the format should be optimised for the greater audience.

For people looking to offer a workshop I would hope most people would go through the workshop coordinator (did this happen Nigel?) but for those that are unable to find that person I think a poster saying, "looking to offer a workshop? Please pick a slot below" with tear off strips at the bottom that are popular in America would work well.

To do:

Print css to get rid of all the Edge stuff.
Enable filtering by multiple categories.
Enable sorting by category.
Check boxes to toggle all fields of information - I think hiding time+location & sorting by category should improve the document view more towards your ideal.

I'm out tonight but will see how much I can get through on Tuesday night.

It's Him - - Parent

I'd say that about 60% of the workshops offered by individuals at BJC came to me, rather than used the board. Any changes made to the board were also obvious by the simple solution of writing everything in green and getting additional workshops added in black.


emilyw - - Parent

That's perhaps a side effect of the boards being in a big atrium hang-out kind of area which you were in a lot?

In 2012 the boards were in a corridor just past reg desk, I was generally nowhere near them (both because I was working the event and because it was not a conducive spot for hanging out) and I don't remember any of the workshop additions going through me, although there were plenty.

Your green pen solution was genius.

Orinoco - - Parent

I would have thought it was more to do with the specific Workshop desk which was the first desk you came to as you entered the college.

emilyw - - Parent

lol could be!

^Tom_ - - Parent

At Pickering it was maybe something like 5 or 10% who spoke to me about doing a workshop. I was also multitasking on site, though normally at the ticket office... which was a nightmare of an office. I think people will tend to do what seems easiest.

The green pen was very clever, and could be extended (eg only let people use a blue pen in the morning, then change then to red in the afternoon, or change the available pens whenever you update from the board).

Mïark - - Parent

I think having a temporary marker near a white board is definitely a good idea as it stops some idiot finding a permanent marker and using that.

There were also people changing a detail on their workhops (eg location) so having another colour to highlight changes might be useful if some people are relying on details they read on the board before the changes.

emilyw - - Parent

There might not be many editors, but if Nigel comes over to the board and finds that a mystery person has accidentally created a workshop clash, what's he supposed to do about it? He doesn't have a way to contact the person to discuss a better time/place or to tell them about it if he just decides unilaterally. They'll probably just show up in the wrong place and get confused and disturb the workshop they are clashing with.

It's Him - - Parent

Fortunately this didn't happen, partly because I tried to never use all the main workshop rooms at one time so that people could just move to a nearby space. The one problem I know about I caught early enough to get the workshop to move room.


PS Don't know who came up with the pen idea but it was as likely to be Tracey or the lady on reg desk as me.

Mïark - - Parent

Would you also need some way of marking rooms as temporarily unavailable to be used for workshops (for DIY workshop planners) eg if a room was being used for a show set up.

It's Him - - Parent

You would need to book the room for other use. In general that only happened occasionally as some shows were teched whilst the room was in use (5 Ring/open stage/cabaret) whilst the ones in theatre were preventing workshops.


Orinoco - - Parent

Only got round to adding check boxes which toggle various fields of info. This helps us see a whole lot of different possible views.

Orinoco - - Parent

I have done my to dos. Because that's what bank holiday weekends are for.

You can only access the document view ordered by category via links on the webpage at the moment because I think that is the only place where it really makes sense, but if you want to play sticking '&Order=Category' on the end of the list & panel views will work as well.

It's Him - - Parent

Looking good.


Mïark - - Parent

I like the traditional, maybe because I can scan it fast for the workshops I want and spot any clashes. There does initially look like there is wasted blank space, but often gaps get filled in with more workshops so it is good people see there is space to add more worksops.

It is also easy to spot any spare good locations if you want to add a new workshop that has special requirements eg needs lot of space

Moon on a stick requests;

The Document is very long involves scrolling which tires my little hands, once I see a Backgammon workshop, I know I have no interest in it from the title, I don't need to see the time (for a 2nd time) the location/teacher/description, since it's on a computer could you have it collapse to just the title and expand on mouse over or click on it.

Genocide might be diabolo rather than other

Ingenious the game is spelt with an "o"

It might be nice to be able to filter by more than one prop, eg I might like both dance and poi workshops, so it would be good to see both so clashes/choices would be easier to spot.

For the detailed list I would appreciate some separator between different hours it makes it easier to spot which workshops occur at the same time - even if it was just a small gap or a line between the last workshop at 9 and the first at 10.

The small panels should work but I keep expecting it to be the traditional table and then realise the same location is only in the same column by chance so have to read the location rather than recognising its location from its position.

It is good though to see trying to find if there are other better ways of displaying workshop information. Even if traditionalists like me are used to seeing them on a physical board

Orinoco - - Parent

The Document is very long involves scrolling which tires my little hands, once I see a Backgammon workshop, I know I have no interest in it from the title, I don't need to see the time (for a 2nd time) the location/teacher/description, since it's on a computer could you have it collapse to just the title and expand on mouse over or click on it.

This is pretty much the panel view!

mike.armstrong - - Parent

For an online, pre-event, view I like small panels best too but I think Traditional tabloe might still be the best once we're on site as it shows spaces where workshops could be added as well as were they already exist.
For small panels some colour coding might help scanability (daltonists be damned!) - how about colour coding the panel by prop (maybe using shade for beginner/intermediate/advanced) and adding a header bar to each box which could colour code locations?

It's Him - - Parent

Colour coding by prop and shade for difficulty appeals to me if a big enough colour range exists. It might be worth someone (not me) checking the numbers of workshops of each skill offered. Remembering that there were 8 aerial workshops not listed on Tuesday.


emilyw - - Parent

+1 for the workshop co-ordinator being able to have a sense at a glance of how well balanced their pile of workshops is, perhaps a month before the convention or so (and again, well before times and places are likely to be sorted out).

KStruthers - - Parent

I like the big table view because you can see which spaces are free, but also the panel view. I think time is more important than location when deciding which workshops to go to, so it's good to be able to see all the details of available workshops together like that. Are these workshop tables available to use for one day conventions/can it be made available? Maybe we could test it at Camvention?

I've also been thinking about how to physically display information at the convention, and how much information should be on the physical workshop board. Do you think that general events happening at the convention like the shows and games should be displayed on the workshop boards? Should the timetable be limited to daytime hours, or should it allow for some evening workshops and activities to be added? Is the title of a workshop enough, or should extra details like the name of the person running the workshop, skill level, and a description be included?

Orinoco - - Parent

I've just updated the live version with the new timetable code.

Timetables can be created for any event. If you go to the Camvention event listing there is an "Add new timetable" link which does what it says. Please have a play & let me know how you get on.

I think how much information to display depends on the convention. For one dayers I'm pretty good at keeping track of time so need less information. For longer events like the BJC & EJC where I only know what day it is by the number of clean pairs of pants I have in my bag I prefer more info.

Mïark - - Parent

I think the list would benefit from having some separator between different times
11:00 Workshop
11:00 Workshop
11:00 Workshop
11:00 Workshop
12:00 Workshop

You might also want to add a field for workshops with attendee limits with instructions to sign up at reg desk as necessary

There were also more workshops on the workshop boards at BJC than made it onto the on-line version.

At EJC in Finland they had a computerised workshop board on a big display screen, you filled in a paper slip and the info desk people inputted it for you. I can't remember if it was available on-line as I didn't have a computer or sophisticated phone with me.

Orinoco - - Parent

Try that.

It's Him - - Parent

There were also more workshops on the workshop board than made it on to the online version.

Not until Tuesday there weren't. I kept updating the online system from the board. I didn't bother keeping it up to date when I realised that all the aerial slots were already signed up when I went to add them to the online system. Although knife throwing and Torwood wheelers may not have been listed as knife throwing was happening every day and Torwood wheelers were changing what they were doing without informing me or changing the board. Instead both were listed properly on the sign up sheets.

The system should be able to cope with this.


Mïark - - Parent

My mistake, people were (possibly unofficially) adding more workshops to the workshop-boards in the gaps I didn't think these were getting uploaded to the on-line version, but don't mind admitting I am wrong

Dee - - Parent

It was available online - people were able to check for updates from the campsite as the campsite was fully covered by wifi.

As they didn't have workshop boards it was easier to encourage people to hand in the pieces of paper.  Munich had both a big board and pieces of paper to be handed in - this was a bit of a mess at  times tbh with clashes appearing caused by the lag between the slip being submitted,  logged and then posted to the board.

Dee - - Parent

I kinda like the festival digest email idea - however I think that it wouldn't be practical when lots of people are (trying) to rely on wifi [esp to avoid roaming charges] at an event such as an EJC.  I think at an event such as the BJC, where the majority of attendees are from the country, it's a little more practical. Then you get into the dilemma as to what time works best for the information to be sent out [but not too early as the information needs to be up to date if it's to serve any real purpose].

Dee - - Parent

Hmm. I've been playing around with this a bit, thinking how to set up a google form so that we collect the detail in a more manageable format for creating the online calendars.

My first try this time around is here

Thoughts / suggestions? Even if it is just a suggested reordering of questions.

Mïark - - Parent

Could the e-mail and workshop input boxes be longer so one could see an entire e-mail address (it rejected my e-mail address for no obvious reason). Is there a character limit to workshop title.

It might be useful for level to have minimum requirement for participants eg Popcorn Variations - must be able to already do basic popcorn.

I would have club passing and ball passing as separate skills rather than rely on people to mention it in the description.

Could the skills be in alphabetical order?

add Hats as a skill?

Dee - - Parent

I have fixed the email input box - I had incorrect validation settings on it, so it should work now.  The workshop title has a short text box rather than long to encourage people to keep it short so that it can be easily read on an online calendar.

Skills now in alphabetical order, including hats.  Have not separated out ball and club juggling as these options are merely to trigger colour coding - too many options means a ridiculous number of colours (that won't be easily distinguishable).  In all likelihood, some of the options would be combined into a single colour.  I have also edited devilsticks to include flowersticks.

In practice the minimum requirement would be merged into the description (I'm thinking from the point of view of what fields there are in creating calendar events)

I have also included a minimum / maximum number of participants option.

Mïark - - Parent

I deleted the flowerstick suggestion before posting - are you psychic? (or can you see the preview mode of my post?)

Dee - - Parent

Not psychic, just had a bit of time to think about the options!

Orinoco - - Parent

Hooray for building stuff! Well done.

Couple of suggestions:

I can't see any benefit in the extra workshop level categories. What's the difference between intermediate & improver (isn't everyone an improver?)? What other level could be useful? As much as it annoys me I think the irritatingly popular 'All levels' category should be included.

For the number of participants doesn't minimum logically come before maximum?

Dee - - Parent

Have added "all levels" and merged intermediate / improver. The idea behind including levels is to aid the workshop coordinator in building a timetable before the convention - so that there is a good mix of levels each day (or as good as possible).   Also, the level information is automatically included within the description [i.e. the submitted description of the workshop is supplemented with other information from the rest of the form.

I'm working on the principal that I can automatically extract the relevant information in appropriate formats for my scripts to create all the events.  This means that I could create the calendars multiple times - creating "quick and dirty" versions of the calendars to allow for easy manipulation of time slots.  Version 1.0 would be to have everything on the same calendar [i.e. no colour coding] to check for overloading and allow for easier visualisation of the available slots.  Version 1.1 would be coloured by prop/activity so that it would reflect the spread by prop.  Version 1.2 would be by location - ensuring no clashes. Version 1.2.1 would be by level (merely so that the coordinator could check that you didn't have all the absolute beginners workshops at the same time!).  Versions 2.0 and 2.1 would be made available to the attendees and would be two options - colour by prop/activity and colour by level.

I know that minimum logically comes before maximum, but more workshops will have a maximum number than a minimum number [especially as the minimum number is something that can only determined at the start of the workshop, so really, the scheduler doesn't care about this!].  Having worked on (and taught) survey design, I know to order things by how much you need the information - most needed information is asked first, as you will always get the lovely folks who can't be bothered to fill in the form fully.

emilyw - - Parent



Leave off "minimum number". It's so unusual it doesn't need a separate box. Everybody can guess that the five person passing pattern workshop needs five people.

Replace "maximum number" with a checkbox for "Workshop has limited spaces and needs sign up sheet". If the workshop has a maximum number that's likely to be reached, people will ask for a sign up sheet. Most don't. The workshop leader can bring their own sign up sheets.

I think I'd split that constraints thing out into separate sections. Makes it easier for people to tell that they filled in all the things they need to. I'd also split description / assumed knowledge. Assumed knowledge could also have an example ("must be able to juggle three clubs").

I would provide a tiny sample bio. This is a good way of nudging people towards some commonality of style e.g. all third person, all in a similar tone of voice. "Fred Bloggs is an accountant and street performer who has been balancing things on his nose ever since he saw a sea lion video on youtube when he was five."

I don't think there's any need for the "as previous" stuff for bios. It will all come out in the wash, I think you can just tell them no need to write it twice.

If you avoid telling people where/how the different bits of info will show up, then that gives more flexibility for Orin or someone to change that around without making your form all wrong.

I'd drastically cut down on the words, people hate reading words. It's all friction preventing them getting to the bottom of the damn form and hitting go. Like after "workshop level" I don't think any of the description is really necessary.

It might be (slightly) easier to follow if it was chunked logically into stuff the public want to know, and then stuff only the organiser needs to know. (Maybe?). So time would come after description and level.

Dee - - Parent

Thanks for the really helpful feedback Emily.  I've implemented your suggestions.  I think that I would automate sending an email to those who select a maximum number of participants checkbox to see what that number is (i.e. get the additional information by email for the few cases that it actually would apply to).

I've left the "About you" section to the end, as it's the most optional bit of information needed [if they omit that, I really couldn't care that much!].  At this point only five questions are required [i.e. name, email, name of workshop, prop used and the timeslot] - do people think that other questions should be required? I'm thinking that if logging these during a convention I would change the status of email and to not being required (and move it down the page).

emilyw - - Parent

coo this is looking well useful.

Only small further suggestions:

Is it possible to shrink some of the text boxes? Having such large boxes under e.g. the constraints seems like inviting essays when ideally people would write "high ceiling please" and move on.

The word "any" could be used to disincentivise rambling in boxes where no rambling is needed. E.g. "Any times you are unavailable", "any requirements", etc.

Slashes should be surrounded with spaces for easier reading.

After all this I really hope some conventions make good use of it!

Dee - - Parent

If they are hosted on the google drive, you can't change the size of the boxes, but if the form is somewhere else you have a little more control over the style sheets and some basic settings (including the size of the "paragraph text" boxes) - at present I've just put in a character limit of 250 characters - so a red box appears if you go over the limit with an associated message gently reminding the person filling in the form that we don't need an essay.

Mïark - - Parent

At the risk of making the form longer...

Name might need to be Name(s) if it is a workshop for passing or other partner skill, so you can ensure that one workshop doesn't clash with another workshop that their secondary (or even tertiary) person is helping with. eg if Adam and Bill are running a workshop there doesn't want to be another workshop run by Bill at the same time.

Poi waving/twirling/spinning might be another skill - but I guess you can add more skills if they repeatedly occur in "other"

^Tom_ - - Parent

speaking from having done most of the workshops last year, here's my experience:
I arranged the workshop timetable online, so all of the pre-planned workshops could easily have been converted into an online timetable (*). then I would have printed them off had the printer worked [so copied them into paper with pen! :-( ] before handing the result to kind volunteers to put into board [thanks guys].

the rest of the workshop boards grew organically, people added workshops into any non taken, non blanked slot on the board, so:
a) if a space is going to be in use for something other than a workshop - you will need to blank it out.
b) never leave a half written/blank workshop board out, someone will write a workshop on it when you're not looking, and it will probably clash with your gala show performers' workshop (whom you've given prime place and prime time) - I'm sorry if it was any one here's workshop that I had to take off the otherwise clear board last year when I wrote up the next day's workshops.

thanks and congratulations for having done a good job with the workshops this year, I didn't check online, but then I don't plan on doing many workshops at BJCs.

* see below.

It's Him - - Parent

So what I actually did with the online calendar was the following. I separated most of the workshops into basic, beginners, intermediate, advanced, unspecified or adult only. With the exception of board games and balloon workshops. This pretty much used up the colour range. Splitting it into props would have been another option but there was a very wide range of those given we had crafts, knife throwing, unicycling, dance, lasso, meta lectures as well as all the standard props such as hula hoop, aerial, acro staff, spinning plates etc. 

I asked most people who submitted a workshop to me rather than via the board what the minimum level of skill they required was and that was added to the online description as well as the sign up sheets (particularly important for aerial with small numbers of sign up spaces). 

I assigned workshop spaces just before the workshop boards were written. In doing this I didn't have to worry so much about the effect of weather which if it had been bad would have caused a disaster as particularly on the Monday and Tuesday I would have had to find room for whip convention, unicycles, tightrope, knife throwing and meteors/rope dart. 

For each workshop I added who was running it and therefore who to find/blame if it didn't happen. To my knowledge only 4 workshops of the sixty plus that were offered pre-bjc didn't happen, two because the person couldn't make it and two because Natalie was too tired. Over 90 workshops were added during the BJC. This means that a non-updated online timetable is basically useless. Many of these were added the day before and two workshops got put on the online timetable but didn't get transferred to the boards. One because I was walking over to the board to write it and got distracted and one was me messing up.

Any system implemented, and the Google calendar system would work fine if done properly, needs the proper equipment to run it. A tablet isn't the best device, a laptop with mouse would be much better and I should have brought one. Cutting and pasting would have been much, much quicker. Some background software or wetware asking questions such as can you do diabolo in that room? Or is this a sit down workshop? Would help as people assigned workshops to unsuitable spaces and I then had to run round altering them and redirecting people e.g. Tom Derrick from w1 to w7.


jamesfrancis - - Parent

I think some additional thinking on suitability of workshop spaces may have been more beneficial. I was rather unimpressed when 30 people turned up to my 3 person passing workshop with run-arounds to find I had been scheduled in the drama studio which comfortably fits about 15 jugglers max (and only if you manage to avoid hitting the low hanging ceiling objects). It was no problem as we just moved the workshop to the main hall, but it did kill 10 minutes of the workshop.

I never personally used the online timetable as I imagined it would be cumbersome to view from a smartphone. I did think the workshop boards needed more information e.g. at a minimum who is running them. People attend many workshops often because of the person running them so to leave this off I think was a mistake. I do remember one workshop just listed as 'club juggling' with no description of whether it was 'learning how to' or 'amazingly awesome and hard tricks' and thinking a lot of people would be put off attending or find themselves at completely the wrong workshop. One problem with only publishing full information online is not only the constant updating problem you mentioned but also the requirement for internet connectivity. You have to remember that each year at least 50 people come from abroad and won't have free internet access to get all the details - boards will always work much better for me.

Didn't mean to sound overly critical in this post. I generally think things this year were much better than they have been in many years gone past and the range and timing of workshops was really good. Of the 3 workshops I ran, two had really good spaces and I think generally feedback has been positive with regards to workshops. I just wanted to raise some quick wins that I think could benefit future conventions. Thanks for all your effort in organising.


It's Him - - Parent

Large workshop spaces were at a premium especially on Monday and Tuesday. I wasn't supposed to be using the main hall as a workshop space although I did on a few occasions mainly for club passing. I am glad you were able to relocate yourself.

The workshop boards being done in a grid format meant that there were not enough space on the grid square to write all pertinent information. There are other ways to display information on the boards but we went for the usual format. Even then this was apparently difficult for people if the two boards had different times!

I had got someone to check the usability of the timetable on a smart phone before it went live. It was quite useable. I can do nothing about assumptions people make without trying alternatives. Such as assuming we wouldn't update the timetable at the convention. We can publicise it more but with less than a week to go to the convention there were less than 30 workshops which changed to over 50 by the time the timetable went live. It is difficult to let people know about a wonderful timetable option if it is not populated.


Orinoco - - Parent

Great review Nigel, thank you for posting.

I too am one that never really plans to attend any workshops. But I still felt that the online timetable gave a good overview of what to look out for, which would've helped me plan my day if I was that way inclined.

#bjc2014 #conventionreview


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