(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr. Find out more at my newsletter.)
With the coronavirus again in the news, I was talking with fellow author Dianne Dotson about COVID-19 and conventions. Obviously some cons are threatened by this disease and it’s going to be with us awhile. This led to a further discussion of how could cons go remote?
That at first sounds kind of impossible for large cons. I mean, how do you replace a get-together for 20,000 people? I’m not saying we should (I may blog on that at another time), but let’s look at how we could do it.
Let me theorize.
In general you want the con “feel.” That would probably mean:
- A central website.
- Communications tools like chats and forums.
- Scheduled events.
- So on.
Really, none of this is impossible to achieve. But we think of cons as geospecific gatherings – we need the internet equivalent. Besides, that’s a central clearing point for other things . . .
Well that’s pretty easy if everyone has an online store or can set one up. You make a list of dealers and perhaps arrange some con discounts.
But you could do more. People might have their own chats or discord servers. You might even be able to route things through an app so you can literally browse and socialize.
There would obviously need to be pre-screaming and so on. On the plus side, it means there’s less physical limits.
Green Rooms/Host Rooms/Parties/Social Events
These can be done easily as well – there’s many social programs folks can use. It wouldn’t take much to have these simulated with chat rooms, etc.
Of course they’d need to be moderated, but that’s something you can do easily – and by holding people responsible of course.
I’d strongly encourage these kinds of socializings at “Remote cons” because that’s part of the point!
Panels and Events
A lot of these can be done, again, with social media programs and chats. There’s things like Zoom, Webex, and more. it’s not hard to do them at all – I know, I’ve done them. Plus you don’t have to have physical limits of space.
These would need schedules and so on – just like other cons.
Well meeting guests and getting autographs and the like is kind of out here. People can hear them speak and see them, but it’s not quite the same. They can have events, but yeah some stuff might not work.
Maybe autographed stuff can be done by mail or something.
That’s tough, but it could be done by video or with pre-submitted video. It might be fun to at least try, but I think people would have to experiment to find the best way to get this to work.
This may be challenging. Cons need to be paid for, and that’s memberships – so how do you make sure con events are exclusive?
I suppose membership access, passwords, and the like could be made for various things. The tech has to be there, using it on the other hand . . .
And That’s It
Really, I can’t see any reason not to try a virtual con. The thing is, there would be challenges.
Even though I’ve enumerated the tech and methods, I think this would have to be tried out. Maybe a minicon could be done, or another con could be partially online. There would need to be experiments and so forth.
But perhaps it’s time we experiment