21st Century Worldcons – An Update

Back when I did my post on 21st Century Worldcons I suggested that Web 2.0 techniques could be used to better involve those who cannot attend the convention in what is going on. That, of course, requires a web site. I haven’t had the time, and don’t have the skills, to do that properly, but it is amazing what you can fling together in a hurry using WordPress and a few simple plug-ins. As a result, I’d like to present to you, ConReporter.com.

What’s all this about? Well, the technical term is a “mashup”. That means it is a site that gathers material from elsewhere. In this particular case it does it using RSS feeds. So people who are attending a convention give us their feed URLs. We put them all into the web site. And then anyone who can’t go to the con has us as a one-stop-shop for a wide variety of reports on the event. It is Citizen Journalism in action. I have already signed up a bunch of people. You may recognize some of the names.

It isn’t perfect by any means. I’d like the reports to be much more searchable, but that requires more complicated programming. What I have done instead is assign tags to each reporter on the basis of their interests. That means that users of the blog can easily get a list of those reporters who have an interest in, say, costuming, or science panels.

Someone, I am sure, will accuse me of stealing other people’s content. That’s certainly not the plan. We only syndicate people’s feeds if they ask us to. Of course that means that you have to ask. We won’t automatically include your feeds just because you are reporting on the con.

What I need now is help. Kevin and I cannot run this by ourselves. We’ll be way too busy. And besides, we need reporters. So I am looking for two groups of people.

Reporters: Are you going to be at Worldcon? Will you be blogging or tweeting from the event? If so we’d love to have your reports included on the site. We are particularly interested in people whose interests are not yet covered, and in people who are going to be reporting in languages other than English. This is a Worldcon, and we want the whole world to be able to participate.

Editors: If this thing takes off as we hope it will, we’ll need help over the next few weeks getting all of the reporters set up on the site. We also need people who are not going to be at Worldcon who can monitor what is going on and create blog posts on the home page highlighting particularly interesting reports. We need people who can act as studio editors for the CoverItLive sessions, answering questions and approving comments.

Long term this is something I hope other people will take over. I hope the technique can be used for other conventions, and I don’t have the time to keep it running. But I’m putting it out there because I want people to take an interest in Worldcon, and I want people who run conventions to see what can be done.

Feedback would be very much appreciated.

13 thoughts on “21st Century Worldcons – An Update

  1. I had everything already planned to tweet from Anticipation. even though I´m not going anymore, I´m open to offer suggestions if you need a hand (I worked as a curator for an SF event in São Paulo in 2008 and we had a Twitter coverage, as well as a blog one. It was a shy, slow business, but we managed to do it adequately.

    Hope I can help!

  2. Fabio:

    I was looking forward to having you as a reporter, but if you’d be willing to work as an editor I’d be delighted. It would be great to have someone doing occasional posts in Portuguese summarizing what is happening at the con.

  3. I’ve made the changes to my data plan and roaming coverage; you get up to 20M worth of tweets from me! (More depending on how frequently I can find free wi-fi instead of relying on the 3G network).

  4. Kevin:

    Awesome.

    Chris:

    There’s no free wifi inside the convention center, but I’d be delighted to add you if you think you’ll be able to get online. Send me stuff (see here for what I need.

  5. Well, I’m probably going to occassionally tweet from Worldcon, so put me on if you like. Unfortunately, my new and upcoming website, the one with blogs in English and in Hebrew is not ready yet (much delayed due to reasons I will not go into here) but it will be up and running for WFC later this year, so I might be more helpful there. But as I said: will tweet from Montreal, and maybe even Armadilocon right after that. (That is: if I don’t get too drunk from all that ice tea in the bar).

  6. Rani, I had already purchased a netbook just to cover Anticipation better! 🙁

    (not to worry, though – now I´ll be doing an editing job from my desktop, which should be much better hardware-wise.)

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