1. Panel: "The Lightning Wrath of the Internet". I had been looking forward to this one, and it did not disappoint. I thought the team did a great job of hosting a lively, honest, and productive discussion about Internet uprisings -- why they happen, how to handle them when they do. The very first question the moderator asked was for examples of a time when the Internet effected useful change via righteous anger, which I thought was an interesting spin. Discussed a lot of incidents, including CooksSource, RaceFail, Open Source Boobs. Main takeaways: The first mistake isn't the problem. It's the second mistake that usually does people in (the botched apology, the digging in, the "but what did I do wrong?" post, the friend-fueled dogpile). Better to respond and say that you need more time to formulate a response as opposed to either silence or something half-baked. Apologize, and mean it.
2. Panel: Can online community as a form of city? Ended up being more of a general discussion of online communities and how they are growing/evolving/changing.
3. Panel: Spoilers! The most purely entertaining panel I've attended so far. Good thoughts regarding the difference between the first, unspoiled experience versus the experience of rereading/rewatching, which is the main reason I avoid spoilers. One of the main arguments against avoiding spoilers is that they shouldn't matter: the plot isn't the important thing, it's how you get there, but a few attendees made the point that not all spoilers are about "the ending"; sometimes they have to do with the true identities or motivation of a character, or revealing a twist, particularly a twist that goes against genre expectations. "What you thought was X is really Y." "Thief" by Megan Turner was mentioned, and I think that's a perfect example. To say why.... would be a spoiler. ;)
4. Writing exercise: Pat Murphy teaches you how to write a story in an hour. We spend half an hour coming up with a story idea, based on an SF/F trope chosen at random, and then half an hour actually writing it. My prompt was "Ecological Disaster" and I ended up writing a small character piece about two people dealing with the immediate aftermath of a tsunami overwhelming San Francisco. I don't delude myself into thinking this was a work of any particular genius, but it was fun, and I may steal the writing exercise for another day.
5. Panel/activity: Build a city from scratch. A bunch of writers/readers/sci-fi geeks, together in a room, with an hour and a half to create a fictional city, and ultimately we came up with a somewhat cracky urban dystopia. We spend almost more time on coming up with the city's culture, government, and social structures as we did the physical urban setting, but that makes sense, because these things do all depend on each other.
6. Panel: "Where's the -punk?" A debate on whether there's anything really "punk" about all the various "-punk" genres in science fiction (cyberpunk, steampunk, biopunk, et. al.) No real conclusions, but some spirited debate. A couple of the panelists had mentioned DIY as part of the punk ethos, and one in particular kept coming back to fanfiction as the ultimate form of DIY SF/F writing; the moderator, Nick Mamatas, kept asking for thoughts about that from the audience, but no one bit. Until one of the other panelists brought up his confusion about why fanfiction writers don't just file off the serial numbers and make their work "publishable". There was rather a commotion in the room, but no one seemed ready to present a rebuttal, and. Well. Someone had to do it. So I did: I talked about how some fanfiction writers make the transition to pro writing, or aspire to do so, but that others of us write simply because we want to tell the stories and because it makes us part of a community. Mamatas then asked me if I felt "punk"; I had to admit that no, my life is pretty mainstream in most respects, and realistically speaking so are most of the stories I write; someone then made a crack about the part where the guys have sex, and after the obligatory reminder that not all fanfic is M/M, I pointed out that a lot of slash is actually rather mainstream too, beneath the surface: domestic stories, stories that reinforce heteronormative tropes, etc. Then the discussion moved on, but I felt like I did a pretty good job of representing, even though the panelist who brought up the original misconception admitted that he still didn't get it, and when I came up to him afterwards he invited me to send him email and continue the discussion. It was a good experience overall, and I'm glad I did it.
Also went to lunch and dinner and just generally hung around and chatted with people. Mostly people I know, or know a little, but also a few people I didn't. One day left.
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