A plenary is simply a gathering open to all BiCon delegates. There are several plenaries during the weekend. You don't have to attend all, or any, of them, but they will probably help you to know what's going on.
The plenaries are:
- An opening plenary to welcome everyone to BiCon
- A daily plenary where announcements can be made (for example, about late changes and additions to the programme)
- A decision-making plenary – this is the Annual General Meeting of BiCon, where we agree the venue and organising teams for future BiCons, discuss the finances, and review any changes to the BiCon Guidelines (the ‘constitution’ of UK BiCons)
- The closing plenary, where everyone says thank you to the organisers (hopefully!) and says goodbye.
Some notes on The Decision Making Plenary from David Matthewman
The Decision-Making Plenary (DMP) is the session at BiCon that … well, makes decisions on issues. The ‘issues’ it decides on are things like who’s going to run BiCon in future years, whether there are an bi projects that BiCon should help to fund, and whether any changes need making to the BiCon Guidelines (see below).
The debate can get heated, and occasionally veers into pedantry, but it’s a very necessary part of BiCon and it’s not always the nightmare its reputation would suggest. Because it’s so important, it’s never scheduled against other sessions, which allows everyone at BiCon to come to it.
If you want to raise an issue at the DMP, you should if at all possible bring it to the pre-DMP session. The purpose of this session is twofold. Firstly it allows the issues to be discussed in a smaller, more manageable group, where suggestions can be made and the ideas may be refined. Secondly, it allows the issues to be publicised on the notice board on the Saturday so that BiCon attendees can read the notices and know what is coming up. Please do read these notices (they’ll be posted at or near the reception desk) if you’re intending to come to the DMP – it will make things run more smoothly if everyone knows in advance what’s going to be discussed.
If you can’t make the pre-DMP session for any reason, and can’t find someone to go in your place, please leave a note with reception before the end of Friday so that we can at least publicise the issue. Some small issues may be raised at the DMP without prior warning (it’s not that formal), but not changes to the Guidelines, as those really do require more notice.
The BiCon Guidelines
The BiCon Guidelines, originally written and agreed at the 1998 BiCon, are guidelines describing what BiCon is and how it should be run. They’re intended to make things easier for teams running BiCon rather than being restrictive, and to make sure that any BiCon covers the bare minimum of requirements for content and accessibility.
Occasionally they get added to and amended at the DMP; this requires the approval of two consecutive BiCons.
The full text of the BiCon Guidelines is available on-line here: http://www.bicon.org.uk/guidelines.html and will be available at the reception desk and at the pre-DMP session. Bear in mind that they’re not intended so that you can walk around BiCon ticking them off and awarding marks to the current BiCon team, you’ll make yourself very unpopular if you do that.
Please do come to the DMP, though. It’s important that decisions made on behalf of BiCon are made by as many people at BiCon as possible.