Taking Advantage Of Technology

By | Thursday, February 17, 2011 Leave a Comment
The nature of comic book conventions is that you go largely for the ability to be in direct proximity of lots of other like-minded people. Some of them may be creators that you're able to have personal interactions with. Some may be dealers that have some rare comic you've been searching for ages for. Some may be friends. Some may be people you've corresponded with but have never actually met. The point is that the convention is all about interacting with others in person.

Now, not everybody can go to every convention, of course. I dare say that most folks can't even got to most conventions. There's quite a few who can never go to any. And for those people, they're forced to experience the cons by proxy. Back in the day, they'd read con reports in fanzines months after the fact. These days they're able to read Tweets and blogs in nearly real time. How many of you have been paying attention to Toy Fair this week by hitting various websites and following others' comments on Twitter?

(Side Note: Kind of strange this year. I saw very little out of Toy Fair I had any interest in whatsoever.)

But those are facilitated by the technology of smart phones and laptops with built-in wi-fi. And while the con organizers can make some accommodations for that type of thing, it's primarily the event centers themselves that set that type of thing up.

Which is to say that the con organizers have done VERY little over the years with the technology at their disposal to facilitate the main attraction of cons: interacting with others. In fact, about the only thing I've seen con organizers do was set up online stores to buy tickets in advance.

Until this year.

Now I don't attend a lot of conventions, but I do try to scan the sites of the bigger ones at least. And this is the first year I've noticed that a convention has created a portal site for their show to help people organize their con experience in advance. If you register with the C2E2 site you can sort through the guests, exhibitors, panels, etc. that they have scheduled and check off which ones you're interested in seeing. Then you can call up a list of just those folks, along with where they'll be located.

Which means that you can sort through your favorites and print off a list of JUST those booths you want to hit.

I think this is a great tool that I'd love to see more conventions pick up. Rather than going through the whole program guide with a highlighter or a red Sharpie, I can concentrate on whatever interests me and not have to worry about accidentally skipping over something because it was wedged between two highly promoted panels.

That said, I don't think the C2E2 piece is completely where it needs to be yet. It doesn't seem to be able to roll up the exhibitor/guest list with the panels/screenings list at all. In fact, even though I can check off my favorites and it saves them, I haven't found a good way to look at just my favorite panels.

What I'd also like to see is have this piece tied to a map of the con floor. So, I could download/print a layout that only labeled those exhibitors/guests/panel rooms that I had marked off. I might not give a hoot who's at the third table in the fourth row of Artist Alley, so it just gets in my way if it's labeled on a map.

What if you could also tag your friends within their site? Then you could see where your schedule and theirs overlapped? Or maybe have some kind of meet-up thing where you could pick a spot and say, "I'm going to be hanging around this area from 2:00 - 2:15." An event sign-up for the portfolio reviews? I'm sure there's dozens of other functional and practical enhancements you could add in.

It's late and I haven't had too much opportunity to thing of other ways you could enhance that, but I think there's a GREAT idea there and I'd love to see ReedPop and other con organizers expand on it.
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