What’s Next For Cons

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

When I spoke at Kraken Con last week, it was a bittersweet experience because the convention is shutting down for the time being.  Cons come and go, but this smaller con had a special place in my heart for its positive attitude, precise organization, and fan focus.

The Bay Area has seen many cons change lately, from cancellation to hiatus to restructuring.  It’s not surprising – we’ve got several dominant big cons, and some areas are damned hard and expensive to host in (like San Francisco).  Smaller cons face unique challenges.

I began thinking about how smaller cons have some problems in the Bay Area, and also considered their social role – smaller, more relaxed, more intimate experiences.  This led me to another question – what if we re-think cons, especially smaller ones.  What are “con-like” activities we could have that fulfill the social needs of smaller cons?

So first, let’s ask what these smaller cons provide:

  • The provide a more relaxed setting.
  • They provide a more social setting.
  • They may be specialized in ways larger cons couldn’t be.
  • They can fit into various niches as they’re smaller.
  • For some vendors and artists they may be cheaper to be at.
  • They can experiment.

With that out of the way, allow me to brainstorm some ideas of “con-like” activities that give us the benefits of smaller cons.  These also have an eye towards being easy to do.

Back To Relaxacons – This is something I dearly miss, small one-day cons at hotels where people just hung out.  Some people get hotel rooms, a big convention room is rented for videos, and you hang out.

One-Days – Some cons I’ve seen just do one day now.  Maybe having more micro-cons may provide the needs for the above.  In fact, imagine a con held once a month or so?

Dealer/Artist Get Togethers – Imagine a con (probably one day) that is ONLY local dealers and artists.  Give people a chance to get exposure in an easier way.  I’ve seen various flea markets and events here that operate out of cars in a parking lot (legaly, of course)

Wandering Cons – This is a weird idea that I’ve thought of on and off, but what if you had a small con (say one day) that wandered about every few months, each run by a different team.  There’s still logistic challenges.

Hang At A Hotel – This is something I’ve done before.  Just have people get together at a hotel and hang out.

House Party – Imagine a wandering con that’s basically a small house party.  Sure space would be limited, but people may also come in and out.  A few dealers could attend as well (not sure what the legal issues are here).  Hell, done right in a big area, say the Bay Area, it could be weekly.

Online – There have been attempts at online cons, and this could work well with proper coordination (and no hotel fees!).  Mix webcasts and video feeds and other services, and you can do cosplay and panels at the very least!  Also imagine if you did it right it might be a con that’s going on constantly.

There’s my ideas.  I’d like to hear other ones!

– Steve

A Three-Part Theory Of Media

I often analyze media, how it works, and what it means – which any regular reader knows. This isn’t just my generally obsessive and analytical nature; media is something many of us create from the instructional (yours truly) to fiction (like my friend Serdar). Right now if you’re here you’re probably interested in media creation, and possibly even doing it – so you’re bang alongside reading yet Another Crazy Steve Theory*.

But there’s another reason to analyze media beyond making it – and that’s to understand how it affects you and others. As we’re always consuming media (even unconsciously) in this wired age, understanding how it affects us is vital to being functional. Anyone who’s ever watched someone get a crazy and dysfunctional idea from a story or a biased newscast knows the importance of understanding media.

Lately I’ve been wondering how media influences people and how they take messages from it. In addition I’ve wondered how people can “read so much” into a piece of media that doesn’t seem to mean what they say. In time, I began to see media has three different sides to it.

Here’s my theory – that media has three components.

Read more

Alien August at Sci Fi Ideas!


(This came from an acquaintance who runs a website for sf writers, SciFiIdeas – and its about creating new aliens, I figure it’s right up the alley of folks here! – Steve)

Like sci-fi? Like aliens? Like creative ideas? This is an open invitation for writers, artists, and all creative types to take part in the Alien August special event at scifiideas.com.

For those of you who don’t already know about SciFi Ideas and what we do, we’re a blog specializing in providing ideas and inspiration to science fiction writers. We want people to create great science fiction, and we believe that sharing ideas is the best way to promote creativity in the genre.

Throughout the month of August, we’ll be focusing on one specific aspect of science fiction: Aliens!

We’ll be posting lots of new “alien profiles” detailing unique alien cultures, sharing artwork by various concept artists, discussing the many alien species that already populate the world of science fiction, and hopefully bringing you some original short stories too. Even our weekly “story starting point” feature will be taking on a distinct alien flavour, encouraging you all to write short stories about aliens.

Most importantly, we’ll be encouraging our readers share some of their own alien ideas. And there’s even a prize for the most creative, original, and interesting idea!

The event will take place on the SciFi Ideas website (scifiideas.com) throughout August.

Full details of the alien profile writing competition can be found here. http://www.scifiideas.com/news/alien-august-competition-2014/

There are also lots more details about the event on the SciFi Ideas website. http://www.scifiideas.com/news/alien-august-back/

Also, we’re always looking for fresh content, so if you’d like to write a guest article for us during Alien August, perhaps as a way of promoting your own blog, book, or creative project, please feel free to get in touch! http://www.scifiideas.com/contact/

Even if you don’t plan to share any of your own alien ideas, it’s still worthwhile checking out the SciFi Ideas website during the event and exploring all the new content we’ll be posting. Who knows, you might just be inspired. See you there!

Mark Ball
Mark Ball is a professional writer, semi-professional geek, and amateur podcaster. He is the founder and editor in chief of scifiideas.com.