INTRODUCTION TO ANOTHER FINE NESSIE

by Fiona Anderson

After Intersection was over, many of the people who worked on it thought it would be a good idea to write up what we did, to aid anyone else deciding to run another UK/Euro Worldcon in the future.

However, AFN does not solely consist of articles by Intersection people, but also includes a number of articles by other individuals and groups, who expressed an interest and sent me their contribution. To these people I am extremely grateful, not only for giving us the benefit of their expertise, but also for making it possible for AFN to include different points of view on how to approach any given area. AFN is not meant to be an exposition of the One True Way, but is rather meant to be a resource that people can pick out the ideas and systems that suit them in their particular circumstances, whatever those are.

In any case, people should always bear in mind that what works in one country may be quite inapplicable to the situation in another country. What may be someone's cultural assumptions about any situation may be totally unshared by persons of different traditions - and this will only become clear when it hits you in the face. Cultural assumptions are most often typified by "but I assumed you would of course do X!" after the event, as it becomes clear that X was never on the agenda...

To this end I have included as part of this introduction an article by Pat McMurray which brings out a lot of these cultural issues in a very nice way.

I assert copyright of Another Fine Nessie as a whole, but individual authors retain copyright of their individual articles when these are used in isolation. The intention is *not* to prevent copying or duplication, but to prevent major changes to the contents without consultation with the author(s) concerned. Copying verbatim and use of the articles herein is encouraged, so long as they are not used for any commercial publications without prior permission of the individual author(s) concerned.

To end with, I would not only like to thank everyone who has contributed articles and advice in the making of AFN, but also I would like to particularly thank Colin Harris, who not only chased me up to get things finished, but who also is responsible for making AFN available via the Web, and hence of easy access to all and sundry - though AFN is also available on disk for those without Web access.


YOU ARE A STRANGER 1N A STRANGE LAND

by Pat McMurray

You have never been anywhere like Intersection before. It is larger than any non-US convention has ever been. It is more international than any convention has ever been. It will be full of people who don't know you yet, who don't understand your culture, who think some of the things you do rude or odd. This note is an attempt to warn you about some of' those things that you might do, or other people might do. It is also an attempt to urge you to be a little more tolerant in your opinions and a little more careful in your behaviour.

DRINKING

In Europe it is acceptable to drink alcohol (beer, wine, vodka) while working for the convention. You mustn't get drunk while working, but you can certainly have a couple of beers. In the USA it is very unusual to drink alcohol at all, and strongly discouraged while working on the convention. We are following European practice. If you do drink, you may get odd reactions from Americans, when they realise you're drinking. If you're not used to working with people who are drinking, remember this is their usual practice and relax about it

(Fiona: I edited this paragraph into oblivion for the Intersection handout. With our status as a company, there was no way we could be seen to be encouraging or allowing people to drink on shift. But Pat is correct in that that was normal practice in the UK prior to Intersection)

PERSONAL SPACE AND TOUCHING

In some cultures it is normal to stand close to someone and touch them while talking to them. This is considered sexual harassment in other cu1tures . In some cultures it is normal to stand at a distance, not touch people and not gesture while talking. To people who are used to a more tactile culture this is very cold and rude, the sort of behaviour they only see in government officials and teachers at home. The best thing to do is to behave normally for you, but stay aware of the differences in how your behaviour might be perceived, and stop doing something that appears to be upsetting someone else.

CONVERSATION

Don't talk about gun control. Europeans and Americans seem to have very different opinions about weapons and who should have them. Many of the arguments in the Internet start over this. This is probably best avoided. Race and ethnic origin are also sensitive points. Attitudes towards ethnic minorities can vary very widely. You could also insult someone quite serious1y by assigning the wrong nationality. Remember to deal with the individual, not with your preconceptions of their nationality. There's as much variation in people from any country as there is in yours, and making decisions based on perceived national characteristics is very foolish. Remember, not all Americans, Germans, British, Poles behave the same way and believe the same things.

RULES AND REGULATIONS

There are European countries in which anything not expressly permitted is forbidden. There are other European countries in which anything not expressly forbidden is permitted. In some European cultures rules are there to be obeyed, in others rules exist to be worked round. This is a very direct reflection of recent history, and you must expect this wide variation. In the UK, most rules and laws are obeyed by most people, the exceptions being those which don't make sense or which cause ideological disagreements. As Staff you will of course obey all the rules (grin), but you may have to deal with those who don't understand why they have to queue for Masquerade tickets, or why they can't eat their sandwiches in the concourse. Remember they may not be doing this just to be awkward, but because they come from a culture where rules are routinely ignored, or from one where only sensible rules are obeyed. If you come from a culture where all rules are obeyed, you'll find this very difficult to deal with. Remember, be friendly, and take the time to explain that it's for the good of the convention, before you threaten them with our Chief Steward.

FINALLY

There's a lot: more I could say about these cultural differences, but I think you get the idea - there's a lot of variation in what people understand as normal, Be careful about these potential cultural misunderstandings. Don't get paranoid though. Everyone here is a fellow fan, hoping to meet old friends and make new ones. I hope you have a good convention and feel at home in this Strange Land of Intersection.


So now you've been introduced, welcome to the wide world of ...

Another Fine Nessie