KONgres 2021 – Conrunning in the Global Pandemic

I wrote quite a few posts about the conventions during pandemic. I visited 25 such events before KONgres and I posted about almost every single one of them. Yet KONgres is a bit special. It is a convention for conrunners. I attended it in 2017, 2018, and 2019 but I missed it in 2020. This year it was obviously held online.

Some Similar Programme Items

I believe it won’t surprise anyone when I will say that large part of the programming was devoted to topics such as online conventions, hybrid conventions, and conventions after the pandemic. At first I was a bit disappointed that so many items were similar. I discussed this concerns with the organziers as I was participant in some of the panels. We agreed that all those topics are broad enough so that each panel can concentrate on different aspect of the problem. This way we didn’t have similar items. Instead we had panels looking at given concept from different directions.

It is important to say that the formula that many panels had was quite open. It was not uncommon for the person from audience to not only ask question or provide a comment but to discuss the topic with the panellists. Usually I would not like this approach but it worked here. Considering that audience and panellists had sometimes comparable experience it was natural to a certain degree.

Header of Facebook event. It is mainly black with red and white inscription 'KONgres'. The 'O' in the inscription is a power icon.
The Facebook event for KONgres 2021

The great thing was that thanks to the solution used (Jitsi) we didn’t have to leave room after the programme item. Thanks to that some panels and talks changed into long discussions. Some of them lasting for even two or three hours. Because of that I missed some other programme items I planned to attend. Yet I don’t regret it. For me those discussions were valuable. I’ll get the chance to watch the recorded programme items later while unofficial disucssions were not recorded.

Some Disagreement

During one programme item I took part in a hot discussion on the principles of conrunning. It was visible that people had differing approaches to certain aspects of running conventions. I won’t say that the group I was in was right while the others were wrong. This won’t be true as I believe that we all were right in a way. I do accept that other approaches exist and may work well. At the same time I don’t think I should be completely changing what I do. What made me happy is that there were others who shared my (or similar) view on this topic. Even though there was some disagreement I hope that we all found a value in this discussion – I certainly did.

Lessons Learned and Happy Ending

Looking at KONgres from a time perspective I can see that I learned a few things. I enjoyed two talks by Michał Karzyński – Building The Team, and Building Organizational Culture. They contained some valuable tips and were a good overview of the topics covered. I will certainly work on applying the knowledge in my future cons.

There was a very good panel on What memebrs should know about conventions. Of course it did not conclude with a simple answer but it covered some important topics and it was a pleasure to listen to it.

At the closing ceremony two important things took place. Firstly the site for next two KONgreses were announced. In 2022 it will be organized by Ad-Astra from Zielona Góra. In 2023 Cech Fantastyki Skiercon from Skierniwice will be hosting us. The second thing was announcmeent of the KONgres Award. It went to Marcel Mroczek for his work in Szczecin. He is organizing a local con and is involved in promoting SFF among the youths. Additionally a special award went to Śląski Klub Fantastyki for their long and numerous contributions to fandom. Considering they are turning forty this year it is a great thing.

I had a great time at KONgres. I missed some if the items I wanted to attend but I had great conversations instead. Both from the programming and social perspective it was a good convention. Yes there were some issues but show me a convention that doesn’t have them.

My next post will be published within two weeks and it will treat about Demicon 32.

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