Archive for the ‘conventions’ category

RecentChangesCamp 2009

October 27th, 2008

Fan History is going to RecentChangesCamp again this year. If you love wikis, I can’t say enough good things about this gathering and you should go! The 2009 gathering is being held in Portland, Oregon from February 20 to February 22. (If you’re possibly coming from out of town, let me know and we can see about sharing a hotel room.)

If you’re not familiar with RecentChangesCamp, it is a wiki conference that uses the open space model in terms of organizing the conference, determining the programming tracks, etc. It means that everyone who attends has an investment in it and if there is a wiki related issue that you have a pressing need to discuss with people, you can most definitely do it here.

At last year’s RCC, there were people from WikiHow, Wikia, AboutUs, WikiTravel, Fan History, Wikipedia, academic institutions who used wikis, WikInvest, Vinismo, SocialText, a debate wiki, and more. I learned a lot from the people who attended.

This year, I’d really, really love to see more fandom wiki people show up. There are some unique issues that fandom people can have to deal with that would be great to discuss with other fandom people. How do you handle mentioning members of fandom? What are the copyright issues that fans should be aware of? What corporations should fans be careful of in terms of intellectual property when creating their wiki? How do you develop an audience for your fandom specific wiki? Who can you talk with about wikis to get guidance when things don’t look good? How good of a model is Wikipedia for fandom? Is wiki code too big of a barrier to entry to get large scale participation among the general fandom population? How can you avoid wank on your wiki? What are fun things you’ve learned about fandom as a result of working on your wiki? Can you play an active role in your wiki or is there too much fandom liability for the creator to be the major editor of it? How can wikis be used in the fan communities and on existing fan sites? Yes, a lot of these questions apply to the wiki community as a whole but fandom politics can give some of these issues interesting twists.

If you’re thinking of attending, yay! Please let me know. Maybe we can create a mailing list for fandom wiki people in the run up to RCC, get together before the RCC for lunch or something else to help really start developing fandom oriented wiki networking so that we can begin to get a good support group in place.

FaerieCon 2008 report

October 14th, 2008

A Faerie in Philadelphia

This past weekend I was an exhibitor at the second annual FaerieCon (wiki) at the convention center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The convention has a different feel as compared to the science-fiction & media conventions that many of us in media fandom are used to; the convention is rather more like an indoor Renaissance Fair featuring vendors of truly high quality, beautiful wares, from artwork to jewelry to clothing and costuming supplies. Attendees don wings aplenty and, for a few days at least, summon the faerie world to reveal itself in the middle of this urban city. There is a positive, uplifting atmosphere to the convention again quite unlike those events I normally otherwise attend. A parade of Green Men pass through the convention hall on Saturday morning, singing and greeting all they pass with harvest blessings. Music fills the convention throughout the day from one of the main stages as well as in the evening balls, from the complex rhythmic beats of Trillian Green to the otherworldly sounds of Qntal. Everything and everyone from palm readers to leathersmiths, good faeries to wicked goblins, can be found at FaerieCon, along with many just curious to get a peek into what this other world is all about.

Sponsored by FaerieWorlds, a group which hosts an outdoor festival on the West Coast annually, it has been my viewpoint as an exhibitor that FaerieCon has had a harder time getting quite the same foothold here in Philadelphia. Perhaps this is partly because the cavernous, poorly lit convention center does not lend itself to creating a magical, spiritually uplifting environment. This year’s convention also suffered some setbacks when planned guest of honor, Alan Lee, was unable to attend at the last minute. Brian Froud was also absent due to an illness in the family, and the popular musical act, Qntal, barely made it in time for their scheduled headlining appearance at the Bad Faeries’ Ball Saturday night.

Last year the exhibitors spaces had completely sold out a month before the convention; this year, there were empty exhibit booths which were never sold, despite promises of larger attendance numbers. I was told at one point that the attendance figures were 15,000 for this year, as compared to 8,000 last year, but quite honestly it never felt like there were that many people there (and indeed to me often felt less well-attended than 2007.) Not to cast doubt on the convention organizers but I have to wonder if that 15,000 figure included the very large number of free passes which were given to each exhibitor to distribute to get people in the door – and of those passes which I had handed out before the convention, only 1 or 2 people actually showed up and appeared to have used them.

A Faerie castle in the dark hall of the convention center.

Many of the other exhibitors I spoke to summarized their experience with the show the same way I felt: “I didn’t make a great deal of money – in fact, I lost a great deal of money, but I had a good time.” For some, that will be enough for them to give the show another try next year, in wanting to support it and hope that it will grow and get better in the future. After all, with the financial situation in the United States at the moment, it is easy to understand why many would not feel able to spend money right now, particularly on non-necessary items. But at the same time, it is hard, when you’re at a show to sell merchandise first and have a good time second, to justify the hours spent preparing for and then working an event only to come home with less money in your pocket than you had before.

But such is the life of a convention huckster! Every show is a gamble when it comes down to it; an event can be extremely lucrative one year and the next you might barely cover your expenses if you’re lucky.

Eastern Media Con 2: Convention report

October 6th, 2008

by sidewinder

I’m just back from the second Eastern Media Convention, which took place the weekend of October 3-5 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. It was a terrific convention with a great, positive atmosphere, embracing both gen and slash fans, and fandoms ranging from old favorites (Starsky & Hutch, The Sentinel, The Professionals) to new, hot series (Torchwood, Supernatural, Moonlight). The convention remains small in membership size only (somewhere between 100-150 members, by my count) but with enough heart and enthusiasm for a convention many times its size.

As I was working the dealers’ room, I did not have the opportunity to go to as many panels as I might have liked, but I did moderate or assist in moderating three. The first was a 2-hour Beginner’s Art Workshop, where four of us artists gathered to share tips, tricks, and advice on everything from buying materials to ways to help improve your fanart portraits and make them more realistic. I received a lot of great feedback from people after the fact, and several suggestions that perhaps next year we could do both a beginners and a more advanced art workshop, to continue some of the ideas addressed this year. Other workshops held over the weekend included the use of Photoshop, Vidding, and a Writers’ Workshop, making it a great convention for those interested in improving their skills in their fannish activities.

My notes for my part of the workshop can be downloaded here.

I also hosted a panel entitled Working With Wiki, for those interested in either starting their own fannish wiki or helping out with an existing one. This went really well, even with just a small gathering of 3-4 interested folks. We talked about various issues such as choosing your hosting service, setting up your category structure, the usefulness of templates, working together with other wikis, and also how one can use the wiki architecture to create a fiction archive.

My handout for the wiki panel can be downloaded here.

On Saturday, I hosted a panel on teeny tiny fandoms along with Candy Apple. This was a really raucous panel as everyone has their pet tiny fandoms they wish were bigger, or wish they could find more fiction for. We talked about a lot of different topics, including what are both the pros and cons of being in a small fandom, the differences between “mainstream” fandom and fan-fiction fandom (that is, what to do if you’re part of a larger fandom, say The Police, that only has a small group of people interested in fan-fiction about it — and how sometimes that can lead to conflict and worries). We discussed how crossovers can be used to bring tiny fandoms to a larger audience (which then somewhat diverted into a longer conversation about crossovers in general), about how humor can be a tool to getting tiny fandom fic read, as well as many resources which can be used to find/list/help promote fiction in tiny fandoms.

Some of those resources mentioned included:

  • FanWorksFinder: The fanworks index, where everything from fanart to fic can be added, recced, and individual favorites lists built.
  • Yuletide Treasure: The annual small fandom fic exchange
  • Crack Van: The livejournal community for promoting/reccing fandom fic big and small.
  • Ship_Manifesto: The livejournal community for promoting various ‘ships and fandoms
  • RareSlash: The livejournal community for rare slash pairings
  • Wikipedia
  • And of course, Fan History, where if a page about a fandom isn’t there, it can be added at any time, including links to story archives, fansites, and other information.

I did not make it to the vid show Friday night, but it ran nearly four hours long, I’m told, which first a gen half and then a slash half. The vid show was well-received from the comments I heard, with a wide range of hot new and older fandoms represented, as listed above. The Saturday night “Cope Fandana” was a fun event full of games, humor, and lots (and lots!) of cake, pies, and other sweet goodies. The art show was varied in content from your expected character portraits, photo manipulations, slash art, and also a nice sampling of fantasy and animal art. Dealers reported mixed sales, as might be expected given the economic situation in the United States. I found my sales were quite good, and by Sunday I even had a book full of orders to complete before the holidays! There were a few dealers who did not show up (or left early) but the room still represented a wide array of great merchandise including jewelry, woodwork, leather, celebrity photos and of course, lots of fanzines. Anyone looking for gifts of either a fannish or “mundane” nature could have certainly made out very well at the con.

Throughout the weekend, I found the hotel facilities excellent and the staff excellent. The food was much improved over last year and they were very accommodating to the needs of a fancon – that is, responding to breakfast buffet requests, setting up evening food buffets for those without the time to wait for table service, having bellmen ready and quick to assist in dealers’ move-in and move-out. I even had some of my best sales for the weekend of my jewelry from the hotel staff! While some of the mundane hotel guests might have wondered what was going on, the set-up of the hotel made it easy for most events to be held “away” from the mundanes, making it more comfortable for both fans and regular traveling guests alike.

Sunday after pack-up, I sat in on the Dead Dog Panel which included the usual mix of praise and quibbles, though the overwhelming response was quite positive. Given that EMC is only two years old, I believe the con comm has done a tremendous job already and can only hope that finances make it possible for the convention to continue into 2009 — and beyond. Of course, getting new fen to travel to conventions seems to have become a harder and harder task these days, given so many fen stick with the internet to interact and don’t see the “point” in spending money to see other fen in person. However, there’s just something about the chance to connect to friends in person you may only see once or twice a year; to have those discussions with a room full of people in “real time” instead of through comment threads and email; to be able to hold a piece of fan art in your hands or laugh at your fellow fans’ wonderful creations during “Crazy Hat Night” — or maybe discover a new fandom at a pimping panel or *cough* when your roommate sits you down to watch an episode or two.

I know I’ll be back at EMC next year, as long as it has a next year, and I hope to see more other fans there as well!

Fan History at Eastern Media Convention

October 2nd, 2008

Fan History admin sidewinder will be in attendance at Eastern Media Con this weekend in Newark, New Jersey and will be hosting a panel on “Building a fannish wiki”. A full convention report should follow. It will be interesting to see what fans in attendance are excited about as the new television season has swung into gear, and as we’ve just gotten through a summer movie season which has seen several big genre hits such as Iron Man and The Dark Knight and other ones coming soon such as the Twilight movie. And how has the current financial situation in the United States, and the upcoming election, affected convention-attending fandom? Should be a very good convention.

$15, airlines and fandom

June 12th, 2008

This afternoon, I found out about United’s $15 surcharge for the first bag you check.  I’m not a big traveler.   It doesn’t necessarily affect me much.  This fee has the potential to hurt parts of fandom though.    Convention season is in full swing.  Science fiction conventions, anime conventions, furry conventions, media fandom convention: The season is under way.   These conventions need dealers.  Dealers can make or break a convention, help spread the rep of good cons, pan bad ones.  They also help infuse convention committees with early cash to help conventions cover their early costs.  A number of dealers fly to conventions.  Most of them check luggage.  With the increase in airfare, the $15 is just one more fee for them to eat which can hurt their bottom line.  If transportation costs get too high, because of fees like this one, it means  that they will likely pass on a number of conventions.    That has possible ramifications across the whole convention circuit and will make running conventions more difficult.

MediaWest con report: Pre-planning, Thursday, Friday

May 30th, 2008

In April, my primary activity involving Fan History was in promoting the wiki on-line. The results? Fan History‘s traffic was up 254% on the year.

And then May. For Fan History, May was a jammed pack month. Trying to continue to promote Fan History on-line. Switching over from VPS to a dedicated server. Big daily increase in traffic. Administrator turnover. RecentChangesCamp. ACEN 2008. MediaWest 2008. Following up on all three, all of which were different types. Camp. As a press attendee. As a dealer. For most of the month, I didn’t know if I was coming or going.

MediaWest was the third of three events I had for the month and the one I was most nervous about attending. I’m a fandom history geek. The more I learn, the more I know nothing. I knew just enough about Fan History, well, to make me really nervous. The FanQs trace their roots back to friction with science fiction fandom awards. MediaWest as a touchstone to off-line fandom in the past and the present. Paula Smith, who named Mary Sue and did a whole bunch of other things for fandom, would likely be there. This convention was full of people who I knew of, had heard of and respected for their place in fandom history.

Did I mention I was all flaked out about attending this convention? I just want to be sure that my audience knows that. I pestered a number of fandom acquaintances about the whole thing. What was it like? Would people know who I was? Did the convention have an audience that would be open to Fan History? How should I handle it if I ran across people I wanked/fought with before? Would I be on my own or would I have friends there? Could I survive the politics of fandom? The answers I got from my acquaintances were at times highly contradictory. Nervous. Nervous.

My prep work for Fan History and myself, pestering my friends aside, included printing up stickers. I already had handouts from ACEN 2008. Sidewinder had printed everything else up. I just had to pack my clothes, rent the car, make sure I had a hotel room. I think, if you’re a dealer, you should do more. But I’m me and May was stressful.

I left Illinois around noon, arrived in Lansing after an uneventful four hour drive. I got in, called my room mate who told me to check in, and then called Sidewinder, to find out when she would arrive in. I had four hours to kill so I called Kay. I talked to Kay, offered to pick up her and her friends from Tim Hortons so they wouldn’t have to walk. Then I killed time with them at Tim Hortons and their hotel room. That involved some interesting conversations. FanLib is still very much a sore point with some people. Legal issues involving fandom are very interesting. My dad’s cookies are mighty tasty. Sara Sidle on CSI may or may not be hot but don’t mess with another fan’s OTP. … Especially when said fan is a Harry Potter fan. Also, yeah, it frequently comes down to who we find physically attractive. When Sidewinder got in, Kay showed me the Dealer’s Room and I sort of helped Sidewinder unpack and foisted wine and cookies off on her. I also set up my table with all the YAY! flyers and hand outs Sidewinder had printed. Then I went out with Sidewinder and Dave, her Doctor boyfriend guy, and ate a nice local bar where we had appetizers, alcohol and pub grub. My pub grub included pizza. (And said pizza later became Sidewinder’s breakfast.) When I got back, I spent a long time chatting with my room mate about a great many things, including how we met in fandom.

Woke up early Friday. Got myself some donuts and hot chocolate from Tim Hortons. Pretty tasty. Real donuts. Not southern style krispy kreme ick. Went back to the hotel. Uploaded some pictures I took the day before. Killed time. Then moseyed over to dealer’s room with my laptop to kill time. I talked to a lot of really nice people. I made Nicole talk to a lot of really nice people. I learned more about the Blake’s 7 fandom than I knew before. Conversations began to blend. I offered to drive get food. I went to Wendys. I bought food. And then I got back and lost my keys. This involved much drama. I had to report my keys lost. I had to ask con security and the hotel to keep an eye on them. I stressed and flaked myself out. I have to applaud everyone involved at the convention and hotel for being very helpful and kind. (I didn’t find my keys until Sunday afternoon. Much drama involved with that. And I was extremely embarrassed at where they did turn up.) I didn’t do any panels because I was manning Fan History‘s dealer’s table. Lots of plugging that Fan History was working on becoming a fandom directory, that anyone could edit it, that we have no notability requirement, that having some friction in who is telling the history can be good for the history and cited the Rescue Rangers article as a good example of this. Friday night, went out can’t remember where. Had appetizers maybe and ribs and chicken and a Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Sat around Sidewinder’s hotel room/dealing out of her room room and talked fandom shit for a bit. Then went back to my hotel room and repeated with my roommate and her friend. Went to sleep really late.

ACEN 2008

May 19th, 2008

Over the weekend, I attended ACEN 2008, an anime convention held in Rosemont, Illinois that attracted a crowd of over 12,000 anime fans.  It was held in a convention center that I hadn’t attended a convention at since 1999 or so.  Huge was an understatement from my point of view.  As a non-Anime fandom identifying fan, I suffered almost immediate culture shock.  My brother prepped me for attending by saying to think of it was a convention like I’d see in Genshiken.  Yes, that felt pretty accurate.  Everything depicted in Genishiken was pretty much there, except that it was filled with an American audience as opposed to a Japanese one.

I passed on most of the big events, something that I started regretting by the time I got home Sunday afternoon.  I didn’t go for the experience and talk with people like I should have.  There were a lot of people who could really have helped my understanding of fandom had I had the courage to approach more people. The few conversations I did have were interesting, entertaining and enlightening.  The panel I did went pretty well and hopefully I can get Fan History involved with more panels in the future.

My selection of pretty poor pictures can be found here.

What country do Twilight fans live in?

November 29th, 1999

Where do Twilight fans live in?  The following chart should help give you an idea.

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