Capricon is a new convention for me, totally made possible by the fact that it is virtual. After I had kids, we had to pare down our convention-going to three for childcare and money reasons, and we picked three that were pretty local. The pandemic is giving me a chance to check out the programming and general feel for other conventions, and that’s actually kind of nice. Obviously it’s not entirely the same as an in-person experience. But I’m really glad that creators and fans of speculative fiction content have found a way to make this work.
Capricon 2021 – Structure
I started off Capricon by moderating a panel on YA. While I’ve been moderating for years, and I’ve participated as a panelist at a virtual convention, I was a little worried how I’d manage both the panel discussion and getting audience questions. I like to make sure I’m really attentive to my panelists, and managing tech on top of conversation is not a strong suit (I also can’t pfutz with the radio while I’m driving, but I digress). Fortunately, the very clever folks at Capricon had a plan to make this really effective.
When possible, there is a Zoom co-host who feeds Discord chat questions to the moderator/panel, so the moderator can focus on the other panelists and the conversation. The Discord server has a number of useful channels. Each programming “room” has both a live and a hallway channel. The live channel is used for audience discussion and questions while the panel, presentation or reading is happening. The hallway channel is where folks convene afterward for post panel conversation and follow up.
This structure works very well, but it also means that there are a lot of volunteers working behind the scenes. Way to go Capricon volunteers! You have made this a delightful event to participate in.
In addition to my own panel, I’ve attended panels on writing in dark times, the future of conventions, publicity and marketing, diversity and inclusion in creative spaces, and the economics of art. I’ve also attended delightful readings by Kathryn Sullivan and Catherine Lundoff (she has a new book coming out and I’m very excited about that). I’ve also spent a not insignificant time assembling digital jigsaw puzzles in the cafe.
All in all, it’s a good time and I look forward to enjoying the next few days. It’s sort of like a vacation from the day to day pandemic life stuck at home.