Hugo’s Midnight Party

I spent three hours in the middle of the night helping Kevin and Mur Lafferty host the text-based Hugo Award ceremony coverage. I got no sleep beforehand, and only about three hours afterwards, so I am barely functional today. I am running my end of month backups, as that’s about the only work I am good for.

The live video feed was very temperamental, going down frequently through the webcast. LoneStarCon 3 is insisting that this was the fault of their tech team, and nothing to do with UStream who provided the web services. As a result, we once again had a huge audience, peaking at 822. That’s a far cry from the 100 or so I used to get when I first started doing this.

The video appears to be available for replay in bits. UStream appears to be counting each time it went down and back up again as starting a separate broadcast. Hopefully LSC3 will be able to get a copy of the whole thing to them at some point. I’ll try to watch the whole thing before announcing the Best Dressed Award, but on the basis of what I’ve seen thus far I think Deborah Stanish is a very hot tip. Elizabeth Bear also looked very classy. Sadly John Scalzi’s attempt at a ballgown wasn’t up to much. It looked just like a suit to me.

With far more people I have had to be far more ruthless about comment moderation. That’s partly because having to watch loads of people congratulate each winner does not make for a good show, because everything scrolls through too fast. I just had to delete those comments and post a general “lots of people very happy” comment. Equally there’s no point in posting endless versions of “the video is down again” and “the video is back up”.

With regard to the tech failures, there was an interesting balancing act to be made between providing answers to genuine tech questions and letting through a flood of snark and uninformed opinion. I don’t think I always got that right.

What was noticeable is that as viewer numbers have gone up the level of spite and mean-spiritedness in the comments has gone up too. I screened out all of the vitriol about who had won, what the winners were wearing, Paul Cornell’s jokes and so on. I also ended up screening out almost all of the positive comments because that lead to complaints about my allowing them through.

Overall, however, I think the evening went well. I hope that Loncon 3 allows us to do it again next year (and I’m really looking forward to doing color commentary again rather than just comment moderation, as I’ll be able to be in the audience). If possible I recommend that they set up an audio-only feed as well as a video one, because video appears to still be very hard to get right.

The good news is that, as Kevin survived a sneak attack on his chairmanship of the Mark Protection Committee yesterday, we are still able to do these things officially on the Hugo Awards website.

I’ll do a separate post on the Hugo results later, but here I want to give huge hugs to my co-commentator, Mur Lafferty for her Campbell win, and for managing to get up the steps without tripping like certain other members of the team I could mention.

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