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Community and SF fandom

Oddly enough, sound cards may be cheaper at Best Buy than Walmart. I might be able to get one for even less at one of the local Circuit City stores, but I can't price-check them on-line; all you get when you go to circuitcity.com is a notice posted about the chain closing in the US. As for the keyboard, there are some spares around here and I'm going to ask if I can borrow one until next week.

In the comments to michaellee's post here about Convergence, there's some discussion of the fallout from the HRMP Wars, which are directly responsible for the creation of Convergence and Marscon as well as the implosion of attendance at Minicon, which latter was the intended purpose of the HRMP.

As I've discussed here previously (no link, can't be arsed to look it up now) the current situation in MN fandom is what badger2305 was asking for when he suggested the "two Minicons" option to the MNSTF board way back when. You have one big tent convention, and you have a much smaller convention that's more oriented toward literary fandom. You also have Marscon, which is more of a media/gamer convention, and Diversicon, which was born of an earlier split. I think it's a good thing that michaellee and others are thinking about how to keep the big tent open to people who want to be part of the community while keeping the people that are just there for the party to a minimum. It's a hard row to hoe. Building community in fandom has historically been difficult, because so many fans have social issues to start with, and because fandom also falls prey to Balkanization due to the many portals through which people get into fandom.* Still, MISFITS does a pretty good job of recapitulating MNSTF's success at providing social outlets for fans between conventions while avoiding the politics that eventually led to the HRMP. Maybe they just hide it better.

Now, over a decade after the HRMP Wars, Minicon has been struggling to recover from the faux pas of antagonizing 90% of Upper Midwest fandom. Apologies have been made, hands extended in friendship, and open bars restored to the consuite. How much this has helped, I don't know. I hear that attendance has improved from the abysmal numbers bruited about before Greg Ketter was induced to become Chairman, but frankly, I don't care enough to noodge jiawen, jolest, or any of the other people I know who attend. Honestly? I wish them well. The people running MNSTF these days are not those responsible for the HRMP Wars, and shouldn't be held accountable for them, but I understand that emotions don't always respond to reason. Perhaps it might benefit both Minicon and Diversicon to combine forces, since they do so many of the same things, and Diversicon has long suffered from its scheduling opposite the Renaissance Festival.

All of the SF conventions would do well to pay attention to the huge number of anime fans that showed up for Anime Detour and Kakkoi-con. While not all of these otaku have an interest in SF & fantasy, the chances are that some of them do, and might be attracted to another convention that speaks to those interests. I strongly urge MNSTF, SF Minnesota and the folks who run Marscon to spend some time and money wooing the otaku. This is the new generation of fandom, and fans can't afford to treat otaku the same way Trekkies were once treated. Get them in. Get them involved. These people are your future, and you need to pay attention to them.

*You could even argue that trying to define fandom as a subculture is a meaningless exercise, since SF & fantasy are so popular with the mainstream these days, but I don't agree with that.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 19th, 2009 06:45 pm (UTC)
lot of things to cover here... I don't think minicon will get the fans back they lost, why should they come? They have 2 other conventions that better suit their needs and frankly it costs hundreds of dollars to do even a local con, and the way most people's wallets are today, there really is no incentive to add another burden, especially when the cost/benefit ratio is so low. Also having GoH that require a diligent google search to find out who they are doesn't help.

On Anime, the old line fans seem to be embracing it, sorta. We don't get what the kids are doing, but hey we recognize it as part of the fabric of fandom. Unfortunately the anime cons are making the same mistakes we did,i.e., Kakkoicon is taking a year off for reorganizing, I attended it and it was a dog's breakfast.
Jan. 19th, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
"Unfortunately the anime cons are making the same mistakes we did,i.e., Kakkoicon is taking a year off for reorganizing, I attended it and it was a dog's breakfast."

We tried to warn them. Apparently they did some things well and some things horribly.

Detour put a lot of effort into not being like Minicon, to the extent that the parent company's officers and directors are required to be on Detour staff. We've also tried to keep the drama to a minimum but that's always a crapshoot; we're dealing with people, after all, not robots.
Jan. 19th, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
Please forgive my ignorance, but what does HRMP stand for?

On an unrelated note, sorry I haven't sent you the ms yet. I still don't have a printer.
Jan. 19th, 2009 09:03 pm (UTC)
"High Resolution Minicon Proposal".
Jan. 20th, 2009 01:44 am (UTC)
e; fb
Jan. 20th, 2009 01:38 am (UTC)
High Resolution Minicon Proposal. It wound up being an extremely divisive program that (to its proponents) would bring back Minicon to its historic literary/folkie roots and get rid of all the people who were just there for the party. Just about 90% of the attendees took umbrage at the implication that they were fringefans, and left in a huff.

It's okay. It's worth waiting for.
Jan. 20th, 2009 12:28 am (UTC)

In all honesty I personally just ignore minicon drama. I show up because they throw good parties, which is really the original intent of MNSTF in the first place. vOv
Jan. 20th, 2009 01:40 am (UTC)
Good idea, and probably a more productive attitude towards it. :)
Jan. 20th, 2009 12:29 am (UTC)
We're certainly paying attention to Anime Detour, and I completely agree with you on that one. I don't attend Detour -- I'm not a big enough anime fan to take the space of a kid who is -- but I certainly hope and plan to collaborate with Detour as we go forward.
Jan. 20th, 2009 01:43 am (UTC)
Good to hear. I know there are a lot of things ATC would like to do that it doesn't do well at present, because all the people who would normally lead those things are tied up with doing convention stuff, i.e. social things, and IIRC there was some talk of getting together with MISFITS to talk about working together on those social things.

Convergence people were very helpful with advice and historical perspective when we were getting Detour off the ground, and it was (and I hope still is) very much appreciated. I know we've tried to pay it forward.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )



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