The current move of Council to Christopher's (it's the second month in a row, so it seems to be trending that way) has produced some interestingly mixed reactions among people I've talked to. Some are very much in favor of it, since it facilitates a much more social atmosphere than our usual room at MIT has done. Others are much less sanguine -- some about practical concerns like parking, but others about the atmosphere swinging *too* much in the other direction: that Christopher's is noisy, has somewhat weak acoustics, and isn't as good for getting business done. This is shading over into the SCA-stereotypical "X vs. Fun" debate, and as usual that raises a bunch of alarm bells in me, since those things are usually false dichotomies.
So let's think about that for a minute. Council *used* to be a fair amount of fun. It hasn't generally been lately. And the question that hasn't been asked enough is: why?
The thing is, there's fun and there's fun. I like having a beer with folks as much as the next guy, but it's worth noting that that really has nothing at all to do with why Council used to be enjoyable. Rather, Council used to enjoy a virtuous cycle because of the way the Barony was running. We were very busy and active, so a lot of people had things to bring up at Council. Since there was a lot of variety being discussed at Council, a broad cross-section of the Barony came. Since that broad slice of the Barony was there *and* accomplishing things, there was a gratifying sense of accomplishment, and a charge in the air -- the whole Barony working closely *together* to make things happen, which provided a lot of underlying social energy. And that made it easier for us to do more things.
All that being the case, my conclusion is that the dullness of Council is more a symptom than a cause. It's a dynamic system, so "cause" and "effect" are often hard to tease apart, but I think it's more an effect of our general drop-off in activity. So moving to a more social location is basically a patch over the symptom rather than a fix.
Which doesn't mean it's a terrible idea: so far, I think it's proving a reasonable experiment for the time being. But I don't think we should develop any illusions that it's going to change things fundamentally, and I don't think we should get too attached to the experiment. The *real* fix is to gradually ramp up the activity and energy around the Barony's activities, with Council returning to being the central lightning rod for those. If we can do that (and realistically, I think that's going to take a few years), making Council more enjoyable is likely to take care of itself. (And we might have to move to somewhere more conducive to business, if we find ourselves with a bunch more of it...)