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The difference between a worldcon and a Worldcon [Sep. 3rd, 2010|08:48 pm]
[mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]

The below is my opinion. No one has asked me to write this and if you have any problems with what I'm saying, take it up with me and no-one else.

There are a lot of pro-authors at this con, a chunk of whom I have met at other Worldcons, conventions and events. What has been amazing to me, and gratifying because I have some dear friends who have been responsible for the program, is that every one of them without exception has said that this is the most interesting and diverse Worldcon program that they've seen in ages.

Now I haven't been responsible for any of it. They have no reason to tell me this beyond simple conversation and the enthusiasm they feel for the program.

These people have been around for years, been to a lot of conventions, and they are seriously impressed, not just because it's a good program, but because it's a program so good they want to go to a lot of it. They've also commented on the way the programmers worked with them very favourably.

I mention this because there's stuff that has not been allowed to happen here.

The base reason seems to come down to - this is Worldcon, and you aren't allowed to do this, this, and that, because we don't do things that way. This is why the madcap entertainment events that are pretty much a staple of the evening program at many Australian conventions aren't happening here, because Worldcon doesn't do that.

I think the elephant in the room here is this - what is the bloody point of having the Worldcon in different countries if they have to do everything the same? Seriously, why even bother? It's like travelling all over the world and instead of eating in a variety of restaurants, only ever eating at McDonalds.

I would think the reason for having a World convention that moves from country to country would be to experience those other fandoms. Yes, there will be stuff you don't like, but there will also be the surprises. It's the difference between having a worldcon and a Worldcon.

I'm not saying that there isn't a lot of good advice to be given, a lot of experience to help avoid common perils and pitfalls, but there is a huge difference between offering help and knowledge, and dictating terms. And let's face it, even with all that pressure to do things in very particular ways, there are still Worldcons that are utter disasters.

So if even with all the pressure to do things the 'right' way it all goes hideously wrong, is there any point to trying to force the cookie-cutter convention on people? Why not instead help people to run their Worldcon, complete with all those exciting differences? Help them find ways of introducing people to the unique ways they celebrate they genre in their country, not to mention the individuality of the country itself.

Or is this need for things to be just so yet another example of that old fannish paradox, that the people who are in theory looking excitedly at a new and different future, are deathly afraid of anything remotely resembling change?

[User Picture]From: arcadiagt5
2010-09-03 10:54 am (UTC)
And nothing like a Trailer Park either. Surely with Grant here that could have been a fabulous draw card and hilariously entertaining.
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[User Picture]From: vegetus
2010-09-03 11:57 pm (UTC)
You assume Grant would have the time/inclination to do something like that. As with all volunteer-y events don't expect someone else to do it- volunteer yourself :)
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[User Picture]From: drew_bowie
2010-09-03 10:54 am (UTC)
The only thing I have to say just now?

Well fucking said sir!
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[User Picture]From: arcadiagt5
2010-09-03 10:54 am (UTC)
Oh yes, hoping to pay a visit tomorrow!
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[User Picture]From: callistra
2010-09-03 03:52 pm (UTC)
There's going to be a couple of gynaecon panels...
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[User Picture]From: arcadiagt5
2010-09-03 09:30 pm (UTC)
Yes but the gynaecon panels cover serious topics and are therefore worthy and allowed.

Raw Cordial or Danny's magical hat of mystery (I hope I remembered that right)? Not so much.
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[User Picture]From: kaths
2010-09-03 09:50 pm (UTC)
What kind of things?
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2010-09-04 02:20 am (UTC)
Kind of hard to say. It seems to be a case of when you try to do something that 'is not done,' you get told you can't do it.

I got given a few examples, but the only one that really stuck was the evening program one, because that makes a fairly substantial change to what can be done.

Oh, and I got the impression that if something was well organised but not the way they'd have done it, there complaints and some changes were enforced.
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From: ozdragonlady
2010-09-03 10:33 pm (UTC)

Not allowed?

This is Melbourne, not Denver ... hop in there and have your own version of whatever is "not allowed" - what are they going to do? ignore you? After all, whether "private event" or not, these are public places. A spontaneous event in a public lounge space can hardly be prevented.

*thinking of causing a flash-mob event* .... hehehe
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[User Picture]From: cheshirenoir
2010-09-04 12:11 am (UTC)
Another "Hear hear" from me.

Mind you I'm happy to see some new ideas make it through. Sad, however, that my suggestion for a "Delia Derbyshire" didn't make it through.
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[User Picture]From: vegetus
2010-09-04 12:15 am (UTC)
Why isn't it "allowed"? Is it that noone volunteered to run it, or is it mentioned in the terms of agreement for hosting the Worldcon, was it blocked by the committee (and if so was that blocked because of tradition or something else), or is it the well of negativity inherent in fandom or something else?

Do you think if Worldcon wasn't so US centric in the location this would happen? Could this be changed by forcing the con to be held in different countries (or regions) every year? Though as I've commented elsewhere you could hold a SF con in the middle of the bloody nowhere or even in Dullsville and people would still go and rave about how great it was.

Is the geography of SF something people find of interest? Is there actual variation because of culture or because of the label of the convention? Would you find some of the "banned" things happening at a ComicCon, Eastercon or a World Fantasy Convention? Is it the traditional demographic of a type of convention causing it to stagnate? How does Worldcon compare to similar conventions in getting in new people, and how well does it retain the old? How judgmental are people about "things going wrong" compared to other fandom groups?

Shit, I could have written my thesis on all that!

Or I could just default to "pfft, fans don't like change and cling to their traditions with their dear life." Which might not actually be the case.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2010-09-04 01:57 am (UTC)
It really seems to come down to, "This is the way we've always done it, so don't you dare try and change a thing."

What I find offensive about the programmers being told they weren't to run evening stuff is that the rooms are paid for for the entire day, and end up sitting there empty for the evenings. It's a huge waste of cash.

Also, for people who are shy and don't have friends at the con, this leaves them with nothing to attend beyond parties, which can be just too intimidating if you're shy.

And there is always the background threat of your worldcon being taken away from you and run by folks from overseas. I remember there was a real concern for a while in '99 that that might happen. So there's a very real feeling of 'our way or the highway.'

You raise a lot of good stuff that I'd love to talk with you about, but I'm flat out at the mo'.
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[User Picture]From: mireille21
2010-09-04 01:28 pm (UTC)
"...what is the bloody point of having the Worldcon in different countries if they have to do everything the same?"

Ditto. This is what I was saying back in '99 and I still feel very much the same now.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-09-05 12:04 pm (UTC)
I was thinking about this in the car on the way home and I agree entirely.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-09-05 12:08 pm (UTC)
That was me - Rachel H. Can't be assed logging in.
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[User Picture]From: kremmen
2010-09-09 07:11 am (UTC)
A4 had some of the standard items (Hugo awards, masquerade, etc), but failed to have some of the others (con suite, dead dog party, etc). Some of this makes economic sense. A con suite (i.e. place while provides softdrink and nibbles all day for free) would indeed be very expensive, given how our hotels behave. Some of it makes no economic sense at all. Having rooms paid for and not using them is quite inane. A dead dog party would have cost very little. (Though, as I guessed by the announcement of the volunteers' party at the closing, that and the hallway outside pretty much turned into a de facto dead dog anyhow.)

As you've mentioned, some of the problem is fear. How much divergence from the norm would cause the powers that be to try to sweep in and kill it? Who knows? A4 would have been much better off a month later in decent weather. Some few SMoFs would have been annoyed if A4 wasn't on their chosen US-centric date. Would they have cared enough to try to, say, run an opposing bid? I doubt it. But then, I'd let them if they were that obsessed. My preference is "do it well" in front of "do it here". The egos running A4 would (understandably, even though I don't agree) have those preferences the other way around, and hence buckled to most demands for keeping to the US McWorldcon standard.

When you ask whether it's fear of change, you have to be more specific. If change means taking away, altering or moving something, yes. Generally, fans will object to the things they want and expect being taken away. (It was obvious that lack of a dead dog pissed a lot of people off and soured the end of A4.) They won't object to new things being added.

Does fun evening entertainment ever happen at Worldcons? You bet. At Montreal last year, the convention centre opened up their rooftop area for us on the night of the international fireworks display a few blocks away. Sure, the con wasn't providing anything beyond rooftop space, but they could have just ignored it too. The 2004 Worldcon had a brilliant first night evening programme. It was possibly the best start to a Worldcon ever. If anyone feeds you the bullshit about Worldcons never having evening programming apart from the Hugos and masquerade, point them at that. It's just a cop-out.
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[User Picture]From: smofbabe
2010-09-12 12:12 am (UTC)
Some few SMoFs would have been annoyed if A4 wasn't on their chosen US-centric date. Would they have cared enough to try to, say, run an opposing bid? I doubt it.

Before you start making claims, I suggest that you try looking at the facts: check out the dates for the past several worldcons and you will see that they have been run on several different weekends other than the one used by A4. Your claim is completely bogus - the date for Aussiecon 4 was chosen by the committee because it is the latest of the traditional worldcon (not *US* worldcon) dates and meant it would have the best chance at decent weather. It had nothing to do with somehow annoying "some few SMOFs."

Edited at 2010-09-12 03:07 am (UTC)
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