A Brief History of Convention Ribbons: “If you’ve gone to conventions like CONvergence, you may have seen the ribbons imprinted with catchphrases and clip art people stick to the bottom of the their badges—in some cases, collecting large trails of them. CONvergence does a great job of explaining how you can get your own ribbons on its site, including a variety of different vendors that print them. But what is the real purpose of badge ribbons, and how did the tradition get started?” (There’s a fair amount of ribbon collection/trading at Norwescon as well.)

Linkdump for July 16th through July 30th

Sometime between July 16th and July 30th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

Linkdump for April 19th through April 26th

Sometime between April 19th and April 26th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • I had a dream about a Star Trek series with a ferengi captain…: …and he was super endearing but it was like…the worst ship in the fleet and it was full of the misfits of starfleet But I loved this captain I loved him who is he // It’s Nog.
  • What ‘Snowflakes’ Get Right About Free Speech: 'Free speech' as the ability to say anything you want vs. 'free speech' as the ability for all to participate equally in public discourse. (Summary via @leftoblique on Twitter)
  • NorWesCon: Norwescon's page on Fancyclopedia 3. We are the third entry (without camel case).
  • Fancyclopedia 3: Fancyclopedia 3 is a collective enterprise of all of fandom. Based on the previous works by Jack Speer (Fancyclopedia 1), Dick Eney (Fancyclopedia 2), and Rich Brown, it is written by fans who want to contribute.
  • 5 Things That Don’t Seem Like Mansplaining But Are, Because Playing Devil’s Advocate Doesn’t Enlighten Anyone: By now, you may have heard the term mansplaining — explaining things as a man to a woman with the incorrect assumption that she doesn't understand — and heard of it in its most common forms. But some things that don't seem like mansplaining, but are, may have escaped your attention. Mansplaining, after all, is part of a set of cultural assumptions that place men's opinions above women's, and these assumptions are everywhere.

Linkdump for April 16th through April 19th

Sometime between April 16th and April 19th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black: Dolezal is simply a white woman who cannot help but center herself in all that she does—including her fight for racial justice. And if racial justice doesn't center her, she will redefine race itself in order to make that happen.
  • Volunteers, Professionals, and Who Gets to Have Fun at Cons: If your fun is dependent using your status as a volunteer as an excuse to not act responsibly, if it requires victims to stay quiet about mistreatment: then it’s not really a fun time for “everyone” is it? It’s not the expectation of professionalism that’s killing the fun at cons, it’s the lack of it.
  • Time to Fix the Missing Stair: It’s time to stop pretending the missing stair doesn’t need to be fixed. Relying on word-of-mouth means that the people who are new, who are just entering, are the ones most at risk of trying to step on it.
  • seriously, the guy has a point: A global investment firm has used a global advertising firm to create a faux work of guerrilla art to subvert and change the meaning of his actual work of guerrilla art. That would piss off any artist.
  • Westboro Wannabes Picket Norwescon: Thank you for proving, by your actions, the value that Norwescon (and all such fan-run conventions) have in this world. Thank you for proving that we can’t be bullied. You gave us all a teachable moment, and we learned something about ourselves.

Norwescon, Sakura-Con, and Easter Weekend

I keep seeing questions about why Norwescon and Sakura-Con are both scheduled for Easter weekend this year. Here’s my attempt at an answer, with the disclaimer that I’m not speaking officially for Norwescon or Sakura-Con. This is just what I’ve picked up while chatting with people over the past couple years, and what I can verify over the ‘net (using the past convention dates from Wikipedia for Norwescon and Sakura-Con and this table of Easter dates).

Historically, Norwescon has been on Easter weekend for the majority of its existence, and the past 14 years consecutively:

  • On Easter Weekend: NWC 1, 11, 14, 17, 19-32
  • Near Easter Weekend: NWC 2-10 (and Alternatcon), 12, 15-16, 18

Sakura-Con, which has been in existence for fewer years (13) than Norwescon’s been consistently using Easter weekend (14), spent most of its first decade using weekends other than Easter weekend, very probably in an attempt not to conflict with Norwescon, as there is a lot of fan crossover between the two conventions. In fact, the first two years of Sakuracon were held at the SeaTac DoubleTree, the same hotel that Norwescon was using at the time (and is still using now).

  • On Easter Weekend: SC 10, 12-13
  • Near Easter Weekend: SC 1-9, 11

So, in a sense, Norwescon does have the elementary schoolyard ability to stick its tongue out at Sakura-Con and stamp its feet, saying, “We were here first!” But that would be silly.

So why the change in Sakura-Con’s schedule, if (as I’m guessing) since they at first attempted to work around Norwescon’s established schedule?

Simply put, it’s business. Easter weekend isn’t one of the big travel holidays, and conventions are more able to negotiate better usage rates (in everything from space rental fees to discounted room rates). It’s a win-win for both the convention and the hotel: the convention gets to use the hotel for as little money as realistically possible; the hotel gets a huge amount of business on an otherwise traditionally slow weekend.

So, as Sakura-Con grew in popularity, and needed to expand to find more and more space, I’d be willing to bet that after a while, it simply worked out that the best deals it could get for space (claiming space at the downtown Seattle Convention Center) and its fans (it looks like at least one downtown hotel is offering discounted rates for Sakura-Con attendees) were going to be on Easter weekend.

So yes, at times, it can be a little frustrating to have two major local conventions with a fair amount of cross-pollination in their fanbase going on over the same weekend. However, it’s a friendly competition, and there are always a small number of fans who do their best to bounce between both cons, or at least stop by the other convention once they’ve established a “home base” at one. Doing so is even easier than ever this year, now that the Central Link light rail is in operation: from Norwescon, just take a shuttle from the DoubleTree to the airport, hop the Link downtown, and you can probably be at the Washington State Convention Center and in the midst of Sakura-Con in right about an hour.

Whichever con you choose, though (for me, it’s Norwescon), have fun!

UPDATE: While I’m keeping the “not speaking officially” disclaimer up, I’ve received a number of comments from various people on the Norwescon ConCom (Convention Committee) thanking me for this post, and indicating that they’ll be passing it around as an answer to this oft-repeated question. Awesome!

UPDATE #2: Former Sakura-Con staff member and con chair Isaac Alexander contacted me via Twitter with a few minor corrections to what I wrote:

The Double Tree Inn at South Center is completely different then the Double Tree Sea Tac(which used to be the Red Lion Sea-Tac). The Double Tree Inn at South Center was torn down a couple years ago to make space for the mall expansion.

You were absolutely correct about us not wanting to conflict in the early years with norwes because of the crossover with fans.