From Hilbert Space to Dilbert Space

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Convergence 2009
Convergence 2009 was a good con, though the sheer size of it exposed a basic structural flaw. In most of my decades in fandom, the social aspects of a convention have been more important than the programming. However, the highlight of this Convergence was one of the programming tracks. It was the most interesting programming I have seen in the several Convergences we have attended. The problem was with the party space: The parties of an ever-growing convention are squeezed into a finite and now very crowded space.

I really liked the Skepchick track. I went to seven panels of it, only one of which I disliked. I don't agree with everything the Skepchicks say, but they were charming, informative, and entertaining. One of their friends and fellow panelists, Pamela Gay, seems to have beliefs that are closer to mine.

Having alluded to religion, I am reminded of a saying in the Episcopal Church: When liturgy argues with architecture, architecture always wins. The same applies to any other human social activity, at least when explosives are not involved. At Convergence almost all the parties are restricted to two floors of "cabana" rooms around the swimming pool space. Every room has a party. The noise is deafening. It is impossible to have an extended conversation. The halls outside the rooms are jammed. It is difficult to move. Our friends in local SF fandom are getting tired of hearing this from us, but the party scene in Chicagoland, e.g. at Windycon, is much better. By 11:30 Saturday night (very early by con standards) I could not take it any more and retreated to our hotel room.

The Dealers' room was, as usual, rather low on actual booksellers when Here I go again compared to Windycon. However Phil Kaveny (no website that I can find), from who I have been buying books for decades, was present with an interesting selection.

However, we have registered for next year's Convergence. Despite the party problems, it was a good con.

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I, too, asked why booksellers don't sell books at Con.

And the reasons, I'm told, is that the conventiongoers don't BUY books there, because they can do that all the rest of the year. At Con, their finite supply of money goes to the bright shinies.

Re: I, too, asked why booksellers don't sell books at Con.

Yes, it's a different world from the old days. Now anybody can buy any book published anywhere in the world at any time they want to. You don't have to wait for a *book dealer* to physically put one in front of you. That said, Greg Ketter of Dreamhaven said he did better at this con than usual--he was out of all the things I wanted to buy... :-(

Re: I, too, asked why booksellers don't sell books at Con.

This is 95% true, but the other 5% is significant. Even in SF there is a lot of obscure stuff that never makes it to Borders or Barnes & Noble, although many fans don't seem to know this or care. Today if you know what you are looking for you can get easily get it online. The trick is to find the books that you never heard of but want when you see them.

Of course, 90% of those obscure publications are crap, but this is just a manifestation of Sturgeon's Revelation.

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