September 4th, 2012

Kevin and Lisa

Chicon 7 Day 5: Wrapping It Up

Chicon Chairman Dave McCarty told Lisa and me that nobody was officially recording their closing ceremonies, and that we were welcome to do so if we wanted, and that the Chicon Events team would cooperate with us. Therefore, after going out to lunch with WSFS MPC Secretary Linda Deneroff, Lisa and I kitted back up for the last time in our Chicon jumpsuits and headed down to Columbus IJKL for the final event of the convention. We weren't in the Grand Ballroom because Chicon had already had to release the room in preparation for the event starting here tomorrow that was moving in as quickly as Chicon could release each room. This was the largest remaining function room after that, and it wasn't big enough, with every seat filled and the room filled beyond capacity, with people in the halls looking through the doors.

Dave McCarty thanked the Guests and presented an absolutely gigantic gavel to John Scalzi as the Mallet of Loving Correction. I got a photo of me and Scalzi with the gavel, but it's still on my camera and I'm much too tired to post it now and thus won't get to it until after I'm back in California because I'll be offline for the next four days.

And speaking of not posting stuff, while we have the Opening and Closing Ceremony videos, we just haven't had the chance to upload them, or even transfer them to anyone at Chicon on a memory stick, so y'all will just have to wait until we get back to the West Coast and have time to edit it all together and add titles and credits, after which I can upload it to YouTube.

Dave officially closed out the Worldcon and handed the (much smaller than Scalzi's) Gavel of WSFS over to LoneStarCon 3, who gave a brief and entertaining video presentation that had the point of view character walking out the front door of the Chicago Hyatt down to the Chicago Riverwalk and fading into San Antonio's Riverwalk. They also showed a promotional video from the San Antonio CVB. Alas, due to a glitch in the camera, it stopped recording during part of those presentations, and we're going to have to ask LSC3 if we can have the originals so we can edit them into whatever we finally make of the closing ceremonies.

And that was all for the official functions. Lisa and I changed back to street clothes and went for a walk down to Millennium Park and back, where along the way we ran into Stellan from Sweden — formerly a regular BASFA attendee, he had to return to Sweden after his work visa couldn't be renewed, but fortunately for him, unlike Cheryl, he's still able to visit the USA. We ended up going out to an early dinner with him before returning to the hotel.

Around 8 PM we went to the Con Suite where we participated in the traditional BASFA meeting in exile (where, as is not unusual, there probably were more regular BASFA members present than at the regular meeting back in California). I was auctioned off for my birthday (another tradition) to Lisa for $22. She says I have to play the train board game she brought with her on our train ride back west this week. Sounds like tough work to me.

The actual final event for us was the Former Worldcon Chairs Party, being held up in the wonderful suite that UK2014/Loncon 3 had been using. This was a fantastic complex of rooms for the Old Pharts Party — probably the best we've ever had. Despite the large number of people there, it wasn't crowded, and people could spread out and relax. And we could use the pool table! The suite has a pool table, but it was covered and used as a serving area by the parties earlier in the convention. Lisa and I broke the ice (and balls) by playing a game, and people continued to play throughout the evening. I didn't so much win my game against Roger Sims as he lost by fouling out on the 8 ball. Colin Harris and I also played a game. There were only two cues, and one of them broke a tip, and the other was pretty warped, but it was still fun.

Around Midnight, Lisa said it was time to go, and she was right, but before we left, she introduced me to Dave McCarty's wife, who I'd never met, and she came down one flight with us to our room to collect on Dave's behalf a CD-ROM of material that I was supposed to pass on to Dave for the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee but had forgotten to do. I'd write more about the conversation that followed, but I'm falling asleep at the keyboard and must get to bed soon. We don't have to get up maddeningly early, but we do need to do a lot of packing in the morning before meeting the Mansfields in the lobby at 12:30 to share a taxi over to Chicago Union Station for our respective trains going south (in our case) and north (in theirs).

From an organizational perspective, I found Chicon 7 to be one of the better Worldcons I've attended. I did hear some complaints about Programming in some aspects — heck, I made some myself — but since I attended none of the programming except one of the two items for which I was scheduled, I don't feel competent to evaluate it. Everything else about the convention was good, and I had a fun, albeit exhausting time. I'm ready to start heading home tomorrow.
Hugo Logo

Who Says the Hugo Awards Are Unimportant?

As most of you know, the UStream coverage of the 2012 Hugo Awards on Saturday night (Chicago time) was knocked off the air by a UStream copyright 'bot. This ignited a storm of protests, probably given more steam when Neil Gaiman posted about it. Late Monday, the founder and CEO of UStream posted an apology on the company's official blog. Now I see that this hasn't really pleased a lot of people, who are calling it a non-apology, but actually, I think we're on the right track. Not speaking for WSFS officially, I'm personally happy to see that UStream realized that something went wrong and apologized, although it's of course disappointing that they couldn't fix things immediately when the problem happened. OTOH, late at night on a holiday weekend isn't necessarily the time I would expect front-line experts in place to fix a problem at UStream, either. So I think we need to take a balanced approach here.

WSFS has been using the free UStream service, which means interrupting ads and also means that we're not necessarily going to get everything we want. What we have to determine is whether Worldcons can afford what it costs to get more professional support. As Cheryl pointed out, we set out to try and live-stream the Hugos in 2005 and ran aground on the four-figure costs quoted to us. Although it's easier to do now, I think it's still likely that to do this fully professionally in a way that is less subject to the problems we faced this year is a four-figure sum of money, and Worldcons have to make decisions about how important it is to provide this service.

I want to encourage people to not rush to a quick judgement here. There's another year before we'll be on the air again with another Hugo Awards ceremony, and between now and then Chicon 7, LoneStarCon 3, and the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee will be working with all of the affected parties to see if we can bring people uninterrupted coverage of the Hugo Awards in 2013.
Pointless Arrow

On The Rails Again

I'm not sure whether I'll have my internet connection after I get up in the morning or have time to do any updates from Chicago Union Station (where they sometimes — when it's working — have internet access in the first class passenger lounge). Starting tomorrow, Lisa and I are heading for Los Angeles on the Texas Eagle, boarding a sleeper in Chicago that will be taken to San Antonio, then switched out and parked until it's added to the Sunset Limited bound for Los Angeles a few hours later. We'll be on the train three nights and four days, arriving at LA Union Passenger Terminal sometime Friday for two days in LA before returning to San Jose on Sunday on the Coast Starlight. There is no internet on the train. I'll be offline. I may actually be asleep much of that time. I might write stuff and post it later. But I won't guarantee it. Don't expect a quick response from me for at least another week.