It was my fourth virtual Octocon! And again I regretted that I was not able to join the convention in person. Yet I still managed to enjoy those two days.
Octocon weekend was quite busy for me. Apart from the convention I had some meetings related to Glasgow 2024. So in fact before the Opening Ceremony and during the Closing Ceremony I was working on another con. It was good and although not a part of Octocon it merged with the convention in my mind.
Yet apart from the organizational meetings I had a con to enjoy. I should also mention one more online fannish meeting I had on Saturday evening. So all in all I spend full weekend in front of my PC listening to and talking to people.
There was enough programme available for online audience. It included both:
– items hosted in virtual space and streamed to the hotel
– items that were taking place on site and were available over the internet.
Convention decided to have a 60 minutes long items scheduled within 90 minutes slots. This way after each panel and talk there was around half an hour of free time. This approach is something I both like and dislike at the same time. It gives a good opportunity to eat something, grab some water etc. On the other hand it reduces the number of programme items during the day. I suppose that on site I would not mind it (I would either way spend this time talking with other fans). Yet when joining from home I was feeling that those are “breaks” to the con.
I managed to listen to a few items over the course of two days. The one that I remember the most is Who Reviews the Reviewers: Current Trends in Review Culture. As a person regularly reviewing books and comics (and writing con reports!) I found the subject very interesting. The panellists had some nice insights into the topic and it was an hour I enjoyed. I also tuned in to listen to the Dyscalculia in SFF talk. I expected that dyscalculia was not a very popular trope but I thought there were more books touching this topic. Yet it seems one can count all of them on the fingers of one hand. Still it was quite interesting to learn more about dyscalculia in general.
How Many Joined Remotely?
I am not sure how many members participated in the convention remotely. On Discord I can see fewer than 150 people. Only 25 of them decided to take a role determining their attendance type. Two thirds of those were attending in person. It confirms my impression that there were not so many people actively participating online.
Discord channels were rather quiet. Even the one for sharing pet pictures! It doesn’t mean there were no posts though. It was just calmer than on the previous cons I attended. That is a pity. Online interactions were usually helping me to feel more of the convention atmosphere. I must say that I missed the social aspect a bit. What I am not sure is whether Zoom was used for that purpose. There were two Zoom accounts but they were used for programme. I didn’t check if there is some breakout room to have a chat. Supposedly it was my mistake.
I was hoping that during the evening watch party there would be some people willing to chat a bit. Before we started to watch the movie (The Mark of Zorro from 1920) there was some nice conversation. It was short but I enjoyed it nevertheless. I had to leave early so I didn’t finish watching. What I can say is that it was a nice and funny movie!
So I am wondering why the online participation was lower or at least less visible? Not sure if people are fed up with remote attendance and they prefer to either come in person or not come at all. Or maybe “Zoom fatigue” is already high enough that online members prefer to concentrate on programme and not social aspects? Whatever is the case I regret it.
Yet I don’t want to be negative in my report. Especially considering that lower involvement of members is not the convention’s fault! I managed to have a good time and I still like Octocon. I would love to repeat my 2017 trip and attend it in person. Maybe I will manage to do so next year?