May 28 – 30th was the Memorial Day weekend in the United States. That means Balticon was in full swing. Last year I was fortunate enough to attend, but, alas, funds to go this year were simply not available.
So, for me, and others like me, the weekend was just that, a weekend much like any other.
Except, early last week, a few people started talking about Balticant on Twitter. We moaned a little about not being able to visit New Media’s Mecca. We talked about staging a Tweet campaign to “try” and capture some of the spirit of Balticon but we didn’t do much else.
And then, Friday came, and a few of us decided to have our own, “Virtual” convention, called Balticant. The initial idea was to invite all the non-Balticon participants to do things via a uStream feed: readings, panels, etc. Unfortunately, the response was not stellar. It WAS a long weekend, after all, and very little had been done to prepare people for it. Oh yeah, and we couldn’t, quite get uStream to do what we wanted.
So, we hosted a few Skype sessions with willing participants and talked about eBooks, and the value of Conventions and how to use podcasting for promotion. We even had a uStream presentation on GetGlue. There weren’t a ton of attendees, but I met and talked to several people who, up to then, were only names on Twitter.
It did for me exactly what a convention should do. It connected me in a more intimate fashion with people I’ve never really had the opportunity to meet.
We are already planning more activities to pick up where we left off. In fact, we are already planning another Balticant. I think, with a little more notice, we can make this something big.
Who says you need a huge travel budget to go to a great convention? Why not do the virtual thing, instead? It doesn’t quite replace the handshakes and hugs that you get when you meet someone face-to-face, but it is still a valuable thing.
We recorded the few sessions we had so expect to see those come out in the coming weeks. As one of the hosts, Get Published will be broadcasting some of the sessions so even if you missed the discussions, you can still hear what was said. I also know that there are talks of starting at least one podcast based on some of the discussions, so you will likely hear more in the coming months.
It didn’t turn out quite the way we envisioned it, but given that we did less than 24 hours of planning, I think it was a success. There are a number of new connections between people. Perhaps even some new friendships.
All-in-all, a very worthwhile experiment. Thank you to all who participated. I hope you will come back again next year.