Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Tonopah at Virtual Norwescon

I'm at (Virtual) Norwescon 43 this weekend, staffing a Club Booth (as their online platform, Airmeet, styles it) for Westercon 74 Tonopah along with [personal profile] lindadee.

Revised Tonopah Banner

This was the first time we got out the Tonopah Westercon standing sign since the pandemic put paid to all in-person conventions. We did of course have to put a patch with the new dates. Kuma Bear approves.

Studio Tonopah

The lighting in our home office/living room is fine for my ordinary work, but is quite wrong for when spending a lot of time on camera. In case anyone reading this has seen me at NWC, here's what it looks beyond the camera.

Studio Tonopah

Lisa has several portable lights that we have put up in ways that light things better for what we're wanting to show. In particular, I don't get a "halo" caused by the primary overhead lights reflecting of my balding head. Yes, I know, "halo light" but we also needed light to show the Tonopah sign as well.

The Airmeet platform that Norwescon is using appears to me to be reasonably good for programming on what Airmeet styles as "stages." The booths -- used by fan groups and dealers alike -- are less good. As far as I could tell, hardly anyone comes into them, and as more than one person has said, you can't even talk to your neighbors.

Norwescon has a social space called the Lounge that is made up of a bunch of "tables" of up to eight "seats." Now one thing that NWC did well was to name the Stages (program rooms) after the various rooms in the Doubletree SeaTac. The Lounge has tables that are labeled as "Hallway Outside [room name]" and people are encouraged to go there if they want to continue a panel discussion after its time slot had ended, and that seems to have worked. There are other table as well, and that has been for me the best place to run into anyone casually the way we would sitting at our fan table. Indeed, I may have managed to convince some people to make the drive from Seattle to Tonopah in July 2022, after convincing them that no, it's not a hoax, yes, there really are facilities, hotels, restaurants, etc. there, and yes, there is real life outside of major metropolitan areas.

Now we have no way of knowing how many people have come into our "booth," watched the video about Tonopah, clicked on the resources such as "Where is Tonopah" and "How to Join," so it's possible that's working. We only know when someone "sits down" at our table. To some extent, if talking to people is what I wanted, it looks like I might have been better with one of the "Lounge" tables labeled "Tonopah Westercon" and just sat there waiting for people to wander by.

Understand that I'm not complaining. There seem to be close to 1000 people attending, presumably mostly the program items (although there is other stuff happening), and I hope they are enjoying themselves. I just think that so far, most online conventions can reproduce Programming and Events, but all of the other aspect of SF/F conventions -- honestly, the things that keep me coming back -- are quite difficult to do when not in person.

We've been asked repeatedly if we'll do Westercon 74 online. The answer has been on our website since before the pandemic: we're going to equip one room with the necessary hardware to do a "hybrid" program with both in-person and remote attendees (including program participants), but we are not going to try and reproduce every aspect of the in-person convention online, and we never intended to do so. We said we'd use the significant A/V and internet connectivity built in to the Tonopah Convention Center so that non-attending members (even supporting members) could participate in a part of it, and that was part of our campaign in 2019, before anyone had ever heard of COVID.

I guess it's just as well that I'm doing this from home, because with the timing of that spider bite, I would have been already on the road when the infection hit and things would have probably become much more unpleasant.
Tags: conventions, fandom, norwescon, westercon

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