Worldcon21C Update

There are been a fair amount of activity in the blogosphere since I posted the 21st Century Worldcon article. Sherwood Smith, one of the people behind FlyCon, did a post in her LiveJournal that got a lot of useful comment. Also the Fandom 2.0 community is now up and running. James Nicholl chose to excerpt a few sentences from my post with the clear intentions of a) getting people mad at me and b) avoiding the actual issue. I’m not going to dignify that with a link.

I have also been getting reaction through email and the like. The general reaction from the SMOF community appears to be a combination of “why would anyone want to attend a virtual convention?” “your ideas are much too expensive” and “if we put any of the program online attendance at Worldcon would fall drastically.” I’ll try to find time to address these concerns later.

But right now I’d like to point you at this web site, which Sam Jordison found and tweeted. The subject matter isn’t much to do with Worldcon, and also some of the content isn’t there yet, but it is exactly what I want to see in terms of Worldcon reporting. I want a web site that gathers together all of the reporting of the event. It needs to have simple instructions as to how you can participate through blogging, tweeting, email, putting photos on Flickr, putting videos on YouTube and so on. It also needs a map on which people can mark where they live, to show the international nature of the event.

Ideally this would go on, but there are probably issues with that so we may need to register a different domain. I want to use the same site for every Worldcon so that the technology doesn’t have to be reinvented every year. I know how a lot of it can be done, but I could do with some help from tech-savvy people. Also we’ll need a few people (preferably who are not going to be at the con) to do moderation, because someone is bound to try to flood the site with spam. If it could be online before April 17th, when I’ll be off to Montreal to look at the site and shoot some video, that would be good.


18 thoughts on “Worldcon21C Update

  1. That sounds worthwhile and as I’m between jobs right now – I can volunteer to moderate or whatever else you need that I can do (can’t afford to fly to Montreal or stay in hotels when I’m not working ;>).

    It’d be a way I could get involved with Worldcon – I’d love it!

  2. Volunteers?

    At least for the initial launch, sure. For a variety of reasons. If you’ll have me, that is.

    I think this is a great idea although I’m sort of terrified at the size and scope of it.

    It has learning opportunity written all over it . . .

  3. I was asked to repost this over here (first posted this afternoon at Sherwood Smith’s blog).



    I am the sort of con-goer many on this thread fear most…because, if given an opportunity to attend a convention online rather than in person, I will choose online nine out of ten times.

    I have attended three in-person conventions: WorldCon in Boston (2004, I think), World Fantasy in Austin (2006?), and Fourth Street in 2008. I liked all of them for various reasons, and it was very interesting to watch the interactions of so many people who, prior to attending, had just been internet handles and author’s names to me – but that’s what I was doing, watching. I don’t interact comfortably in person (all on me, not on any of my friends who really tried to get me involved – I appreciate every one of you for trying).

    And, you know, I can watch just as easily and with far less psychic stress from my own home.

    (I did try to attend Flycon, but realtime participation turned out to be a challenge due to the interface, as I think has been said. I sought out the transcripts of the panels I was interested in.)

    I’d be very happy to pay a fee to gain online access to a convention’s panels – though may I suggest that, if we are going to have an online track, that the strengths of the medium be taken advantage of, especially in the area of panel length? Far too many of the panels I have attended were only just getting rolling when time was called. LJ and other fora lend themselves to extended examination of topics. Fourth Street had longer panels than average, and I think the panels and attendees benefitted from that increase. In-depth consideration of a topic is what I attend panels for, after all. This might also help with the problem of the folks who’ve been attending cons for years seeing the same panel now as when they first started attending; greater length might allow each year’s panel on XYZ to more closely examine XYZ’s relevance in the current year.

    I said recently on SFNovelists that writing is a conversation, and you can’t have a conversation without an audience. The fact that I don’t do well in in-person conversation doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy and don’t seek out the online version. ::grin:: I’m sure I’m not the only one in that boat, either; just think of all the people restricted from attendance because of mobility or health issues!

    Anyway, my two cents. I think this is a great idea, this online con thing, and I hope we can steer what is bound to happen in a direction we like.

  4. Chris:

    Thanks for popping over here and joining the conversation. I’m sure that there are people out there who will immediately yell, “see, that proves it, online material would decimate our memberships.” I don’t agree with that. I think that most fans are much better in company than people make out, and they actually prefer meeting face-to-face. Sure there are people like you, but you probably wouldn’t attend anyway. By putting material online we’d be advertising the event better (which should increase attendance) and we’d be catering for folks like you (and folks who can’t afford the trip) as well.

  5. If there’s something I can do, I’ll happily help out! (

    And I’m one of those who’d go in person if I could, but when I can’t I’d rather be able to participate _somehow_. The reasons we can’t go don’t really matter – distance, time, finance, or other personal circumstances. But being able to “pop in” for a few hours over the course of the weekend would be a BIG benefit.

  6. Cheryl @4 – I don’t agree that it would decimate membership, either. Those who do attend, attend because they like the in-person camaraderie. They like seeing friends and fans and authors up close and personal. Their reasons for attending won’t, for the most part, be served any better by an online track, so why would they choose online over in-person? They might choose online over not at all, however, and if that online access comes with a fee, how does that hurt a convention?

  7. I don’t think having stuff on-line would hurt “real” attendance at the con.

    Just take a look at this year. How many people can not afford to attend because the economy sucks, dont have a job, can’t afford hotel/travel costs, etc.?

    What if Anticipation had some virtual events that these people who could not be there, still interact, or at least view what is going on during the con?

    If anything, I think this might attract new members to the Worldcon. If new members can see or interact during the con, if in the future the Worldcon is closer to where they live, then they just might be more tempted to attend in person. Maybe not everyone would do this, and might be more comfortable with the virtual con.

    Ideally this would go on, but there are probably issues with that so we may need to register a different domain

    Well, as I’ve chimed in on Kevin’s LJ, I think the next over haul of website NEEDS to be the Worldcon site. The Hugo Awards site I understand needed to get done, but the look and feel of the Worldcon site is really dated now. I wish I had more experience in web site design, as I would do it.

    I know the Hugo Awards site was done on WordPress, as a first step I’d love to see the Worldcon site done with that.

    But getting some of the things that you speak of might not work in WordPress. I do like your suggestions. A lot.

    One thing, would each convention get space on this new (?) web site, or just the virtual aspects of the con?

    Getting the “official” convention web site and this new web site to co-exist might be a sticky issue –

    I can’t be much tech help, but would be willing to look and give ideas on beta versions of the site.

  8. Tom:

    If it were just a question of throwing up a WordPress blog I would have re-vamped years ago. The Hugo site was relatively uncontroversial because all we are doing is posting history and official announcements, but you may have noticed that we had to register a new domain and it took a long time before pointed to what we did.

    The problem with WSFS is that, because it has no formal structure, it can’t own anything and no one is in charge. So domains have been registered by individual fans who may or may not be cooperative,and everything you want to do with those domains is potentially subject to fierce debate. There are some people who are furious about what we have done with the Hugo site. A lot more would be angry if we did what I suggested above with

    As to why people think online material would damage attendance, that’s a subject for another post.

  9. I think it would help attendance. Otakon and most anime cons have a fairly open policy on posting the masquerade and other non-video room events at their conventions. Seeing what conventions are like helps attendance.

  10. Cheryl said:

    “Ideally this would go on, but there are probably issues with that so we may need to register a different domain.”

    Apparently none of the SMOFs have, yet, thought to register These days that seems to be a better top level domain than


  11. Following up my mention of the TLD I now remember that worldcon is a registered service mark of WFSF. So that might give them leverage if WFSF had to go to ICANN, or whatever ICANN adjudication committee, to fight for But it could be a lot cheaper to register it now than to fight for it latter.


  12. Given that Kevin is chair of the WSFS Mark Protection Committe, I really shouldn’t go round abusing their marks.

    Posted from iPhone

  13. Thanks Cheryl… Although I only found it because I was sent the link – so can’t take too much credit!

    Anyway, my two cents worth is that the kind of live blog you are proposing would actually make a great shop-window for the con and encourage more people to attend in the long run… plus it could be used as a way to generate alternative revenue from people who wouldn’t have gone anyway.

  14. Cheryl-

    So, is this why you are suggesting something like vworldcon versus something a bit more touchy like an

    There are some people who are furious about what we have done with the Hugo site

    Really? Wow. . . .

  15. Well, I infer a bit of egoboo — my strongest reaction was that almost anything would require additional volunteer labor precisely when it was most scarce, right in the middle of things.
    I very much don’t object to ideas about putting Worldcon online, but I think there are some practical difficulties to think out.

  16. Neil:

    Actually I wasn’t thinking of you. Your complaint is largely justified. Anything you do with regard to conventions tends to require the expenditure of people points at some point. In my defense I note that not all of my suggestions were for at-con activity, and the people who work on the web site during the convention don’t all need to be at the con.

    The people whO I was thinking of are the ones who are complaining that all of my ideas are too expensive, because they can’t think past live webcasting of major events (something I actually discouraged).

  17. I’m interested in seeing what happens with advancing technology and sharing worldcon with the world a little more – if you need technical help I’d be willing to put some time in. I’d probably suggest basing the website off of Drupal, a CMS which I’ve got a lot of experience in.

  18. John:

    Thanks, I will be in touch once I’m back from Dublin. I have heard good things about Drupal from other people, but I haven’t used it at all myself.

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