I’m in another one of those SF Signal Mind Meld things. This one is all about what Worldcon and Conic-Con can learn from each other. The responses are interesting, but perhaps not as useful as they might be because most of the people responding haven’t actually run a Worldcon, or indeed any convention. Almost some of them have little idea about WSFS politics and don’t know what would get howled down.
So Diana Gill’s idea that Worldcon should learn to stay in one place is basically silly. I don’t think it would even be that good for major publishers to have Worldcon just try to ape Comic-Con or Dragon*Con.
Several respondents talked about widening the net to bring in more people who have an interest in SF&F but are currently not well catered for by Worldcon. Lou Anders made the mistake of calling for more special-interest “Guests of Honor”, which is bound to irritate traditionalists, but lots of people commented on how good having Paul Krugman at Anticipation was, and he wasn’t even billed as a Guest. Admittedly the con should have done more to promote his presence, but no one is suggesting, I think that he should have been made a GoH. He was just a high profile panelist. We need more of those, and we need to advertise their presence (and the presence of the very many we already have).
My favorite response was from John Picacio who had some simple, concrete ideas about how to make better use of your headline artist guest. This is something that Imaginales does very well. Every year their chosen artist does a picture for them, and picture is everywhere, from the web site to publications to banners around the town. I’ll just quote a little bit of John’s response, because it makes a huge point. He’s talking about last year in Denver:
The con shared a cavernous convention facility with two other gatherings — a John Deere convention and a statisticians’ convention — and both had signage that was bigger, more graphically compelling, and just more visible than Worldcon’s. Let that sink in for a moment: science fiction art is some of the most compelling, evocative imagery anywhere. Who could believe then that a farm equipment con and a statisticians’ con would visually own THE World Science Fiction Convention in a side-by-side comparison?
We can, and we should, do better.