Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The King's Roundtable and the Livecast (and a few other things)

It was the type of event that promises surprises where you least expect them, but then again, anytime you bring the leadership of a large group togeather for a condensed period of time, there are going to be the unexpected moments. For many of my fellow SCA members, and more specifically officers, we all know that how we meet these challenges is often the turning point away from disaster and towards fun, or, sadly, the inverse.

King's Roundtable (Red Tape) this winter was just such an event, as it always is. Bringing the matter a little closer to home for me (quite literally) was that my mundane place of worship was the host site for the meeting, meaning that when questions of wifi passwords and light switches came up, I was quick to augment Duchess Gilyan, our autocrat and point person for the event. My own mundane work schedule had kept me out of most of the event planning and setup, so I more or less showed up cold that Saturday morning with my usual motivation to help.

Not long after walking in the door, a message reached me none other than Master Modius, the newly minted kingdom Seneschal (and the first officer in the kingdom to repeat the post) was asking if we have a screen for a projector in the sanctuary. I arrived at the soon-to-be-convened closed door meeting just in time to catch modius before he sat down. We met with our customary handshake, and
I quickly explained that no such screen existed. Additionally, we both knew that none of the front walls of the sanctuary would work well for a projector. Modius looked like he was in something of an unplesant bind just then, obviously his preperations for the day were under threat with this developement.

 But with that, I added, "What format is your presentation?"

"Oh, its just a video, and some PDFs."

I shrugged. "We should be able to put that on the church's AV system."

Modius's eyebrows rose with that. "You can?"

"Sure, I'm the head of the AV team for the church. Shouldn't have any problem with it what so ever."
So, there we were, with a very grateful Modius agreeing to meet me later in the day to go over the presentation with him.
The AV desk in the church choir loft. 
I confess that I have never had just such a collision of my mundane work and my SCA responsibilities before, but I was glad to offer the aid. As the member of the church, and an overall busybody myself, I was actually glad to be doing something more than standing around and answering the occasional question.

A few hours (and a lunchtime sortie out to the local RibCrib) later, and the Kingdom's only quadruple peer was sitting meekly at my humble desk as quickly showed him what we could do with his slides and presentations and videos, and he showed me what files would be needed.

The first class in question was the open brainstorming session for what to do with kingdom funds. I don't want to shortchange the conversation, but at the same time, I really don't want to try (and fail) to outline all of the different ideas that we came up with.

The first meeting wrapped up, and then we jumped into prep for the Open Greater Officer's of State meeting. I made sure to check mics, get seats up front for the crown and heirs, and make sure I had the next set of slides ready for the kingdom seneschal's portion of the pending reports.

Then, at the last minute (three minutes before the start of the meeting, to be precise) Modius looked at me and said "Ivo, could we live stream the meeting?"

The coincidence of this could not be overstated. He was asking the question from the middle of the altar area/front state of the church, right where the minister usual stands for Sunday service during his sermon. My Chruch had been live casting those same services since just after Christmas, so we had about four of five such broadcasts already in play. I already knew the infrastructure it would take, we already had a tripod sitting in the front row of the church for exactly that purpose, and I knew the wifi password for whoever's phone was used (mine was on its last leg battery wise).

So, in true SCA/impromptu fashion, with literally minutes to spare, I enlisted the help of her Excellency Kyna and her fully-charged smartphone for the hardware and set up our impromptu live cast of the winter 2016 Ansteorran Greater Officers of State open meeting.

The final product (Facebook page link) was a result of the effort put into it, and while it isn't going to win any journalistic awards, I will say that I am greatly impressed with the sound quality and image clarity afforded the recording. Roughly two hours later, I checked the feed on my facebook account and noted that 940 people had already viewed the video in some duration. If we assume that one in ten watched it mostly all the way through, that still meant about ninety people who were not at the event had now seen the open officer's meeting. By the end of the day the following Wednesday, that number was at 1443, meaning a likely one and a half hundred people who were not at the meeting got to see the reports and discussion in detail.

The conversations following the meeting were no less eye-opening. Needless to say, opinions about the live stream and its pros-and-cons are both diverse and strongly held. Myself, I am forming a narrowly optimistic view of its use, but am frankly loathed to see it more widely employed by the SCA in any official capacity. I am hopeful that the officers and leadership of the kingdom will be able to help shape new policies or guidelines to help form a culture that takes the livestream's unique abilities (and drawbacks) into account as we move forward.

Ironically, but not unpleasantly, the event really ended for me in much the say way it had started, with a handshake from Master Modius being the bookends of another little adventure.

His Lordship Ivo Blackhawk
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"Long Live the King!"

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