The weekend at Punctuation.2. was a blast. Really – I enjoyed myself immensely and was so happy to attend it. Of course, I had to pay the price – afterwards I was sleepy, tired but at least still very happy. So, let’s start from the beginning.
As you may already know, I am taking care of Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon Bid presence at conventions. Usually we have a fantable, and sometimes programme items etc. In case of Punctuation.2. we did one more thing – we were the Zoom lobby hosts during the daytime. This was possible thanks to many involved volunteers whom I would like to thank once again.
As we needed more volunteers than usually, I was busy even before the con. At the convention, I spent some hours performing the lobby duty. Most of the time it was fun for me. Greeting fans, having short chats with people passing by and longer ones with other lobby hosts. It was a thing we would do at a fantable at a physical con. I used that time to build one Gundam model. I was also trying to check the situation in lobby two – three times per day – to make sure everything is fine. To be honest I did not manage to do it every hour, but I think it would be too often.
One of the things we did in the lobby was to share slides informing members what is happening in the breakout rooms. The goal was to make it easier for congoers to choose proper one to go to. I appreciate that Punctuation.2. used some area on each slide to mention that it is our bid who takes care of the lobby. Thank you again for that!
My other duty was related to programme. I was asked to participate in two items. The first was a short introductory session on how the convention and used tools work. It lasted for around fifteen minutes (and was followed by an unofficial discussion). I was there mainly to smile and mention about lobby and Glasgow. The other one was a panel called Challenges to regional fandoms. I enjoyed it pretty much. My co-panellists had a lot of interesting things to say. The discussion ongoing in the chat was also touching on important subjects.
Punctuation.2. was not the same as its first edition. The whole convention took place only in two venues – Discord and Zoom. When it comes to the latter, there was one Zoom account with multiple breakout rooms to host the programme items and social areas. This setup would not work on a big convention, but for a relatively small fannish con it was more than enough.
I appreciate the approach towards the programme participants. Each of us received questions whether we would agree to record the sessions and what level of permissions we would like to grant. Then, depending on the answers from all of the participants, the most restrictive one was applied to a given item. Because of this, some items were not recorded at all while others were made publicly available on YouTube. Lastly, there are some that are published only for convention members to watch them in the next couple of days.
What surprised me was that Discord was not very busy. Or, to be more precise, most of the channels were less busy than I expected. Maybe this was related to the fact that we tended to use Zoom for integration? Or maybe most of us concentrated on the four channels related to the Scavenger Hunt.
You might remember my excitement about the Treasure Hunt held on first Punctuation. I enjoyed it so much that I stole the general idea for Lajconik this year. Well, the Scavenger Hunt prepared for Punctuation.2. was even better. It was fabulous. I cannot express how much I enjoyed it. How did it work? We were all assigned to one of the four punctuation-related houses. Those of us who attended last year had the same house assigned (which was awesome!). Each house had their own private channel on Discord and public breakout room in Zoom. Then on Friday and Saturday two sets of tasks were released. The whole house was contributing to the overall result but each of the tasks was scored only once. In total there were ninety-one achievements to complete.
Why was all of this so awesome? Well, there are a few reasons. One is gamification – when you have points and want to achieve the best score it mobilises you to play. Yet this alone would not be enough. The second important part of the fun were tasks, and the third one were the Treasurers – or to put it in more mundane terms – the jury members confirming that task was completed. When it comes to the Treasurers, I hope that they had a good time. I appreciated their comments – even those when they rejected our proposals. As for the tasks – many of them were easy, like showing a picture of a cat or a lemon. Others though were much more challenging – writing a limerick, a villanelle or even a poem in the iambic pentameter. Lastly, there were some assignments requiring collaboration between house members. Editing two fanzines was pretty cool – I hope others enjoyed them (you can check them here). What was even better were the group video recordings.
We had so much fun in our Zoom room! I am not sure how much time we spent there. Probably it was about 60-90 minutes. We recorded five films. My favourite one was our entry for the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest. We were required not only to sing a song, but also to be dressed properly. Five of us participated in it – Baba Yaga, Virginia, Shana, Spike, and me. We had a high jinks. Sandra who created the lyrics was not able to participate and we had to create a tune for the song. Baba Yaga managed to do that. When it comes to costumes, I wore my high-vis vest from Loncon 3, the others had much better outfits – some of them with sequins! Do you remember when I mentioned that Zoom rooms were open? Well, at the end of our performance Phil (who was not a member of our house) appeared. His surprise (astonishment even!) was clearly visible. I hope he had at least part of the fun we did ;). I can go on about all the other videos, but I believe you already have the picture on how awesome it was to take part in this event.
Although for most of the con our (Quasiquote) house was in the lead, we finally ended second. On Sunday morning, we had a bit over 3000 points while second house (Sarcastrophe) had 2070. Yet by the time of closing ceremony, both of our houses had exactly 3600 points. The tie was broken to their favour because of how they achieved in the tasks to pursue the Holy Grail.
This was my take on the Holy Grail task. I am not sure why it was not counted as the true Holy Grail! I got this cup as my team won the “Fannish Competition” at one of my first conventions – Yokkon 5 in 2003.
The Fannish Programme
I managed to attend only a few programme items. I was busy with other things but also not all the items were exactly to my taste. Yet those that I attended were pretty interesting. As I wrote above, I was participating in one panel about regional fandom. When it comes to being a listener, I listened to the Rebuilding the fan Hugos panel. There were just two panellists, but their conversation was enthralling (and the topic itself is very important). On Sunday afternoon I listened to a panel called Fannish time capsules. It was good and it reminded me that at one manga convention we made a time capsule. In fact, I am currently trying to check where it is now.
When it comes to more relaxed programme I was at a few items. Those were: fannish breakfast, cheese tasting, and Fannish Fortunes. The last was based on a TV game show Family Fortunes. Two teams participated in it – Glasgow and Sheffield. The first one (connected to our Worldcon bid) won. As for the cheese tasting – I wanted to attend it. I spent some time trying to find a company that would deliver me a plate of cheese and I ordered it. Then I realized that my duty in the lobby is exactly at the time of the tasting… Yet thanks to Noelle (thank you again!) I managed to attend the item. It was interesting however to discover that apparently I prefer standard cheeses over the more interesting ones.
Punctuation.2. was an awesome event. In the social aspect it was certainly one of the best (if not the best) virtual cons I attended. The Scavenger Hunt allowed for many conversations and collaborations. Social spaces in Zoom were inviting, I had enough time to talk to people, to enjoy myself, and take part in the programme. I miss the con now and want to come back again.