Monday, January 21, 2013

Arisia Wrap-Report

My first thought, heading into Arisia, was to do a little daily report on what I was up to, panels I'd attended/participated in, that kind of thing. But I personally find it hard to sit down and write when there's a glut of things to see and do.

So instead, recorded for posterity, are my observation from three and a half days of convention:

Friday: mostly hung out with friend +Alex LaHurreau, visited a number of panels, including Science in Politics and World-Building through Soft Sciences. I appreciate a certain type of con panel: knowledgeable people discussing familiar topics in weird ways. I'd say that both of these panels were fine, they talked about the sorts of things I would imagine talking about myself if I was on the panel, but there wasn't much new. I enjoyed Alex's pick of "When Comic Creators Go Off the Deep End," but in retrospect they should have broadened the topic to include other mediums. It turns out there are plenty of crazy comic book artists (go figure) but the conversation never reached ignition point.

Saturday is the day most folks come to Arisia, I caught up with a number of friends in the panels before the Belly Dancing show, and then felt very proud watching my wife do her number to the song "Allure," by Beats Antique. In addition to performing it, she choreographed it and did the costume design for herself and her dance partner Baseema. Great job!

Beyond that, the panel I most remember was the "Cyborgs, Identity, and Ghost in the Shell," which was that happy mix of a great creative work (movies, television series, and manga) and a panel willing to explore the weird consequences of the technology the series portrays. What happens when a downloaded consciousness lacks a subconsciousness, when there is no 'deeper self.' Could a Stand-Alone Complex actually exist? Has it already happened? Anyway, the mark of a great panel isn't always the answers offered, but the questions inspired.

In general that's why I go to Arisia, to find new things to check out or explore. I was part of two panels on Sunday and both filled me with ideas to try in my own campaigns. I wrote preview postings on both earlier this week, but both panels were a surprise. Both were well-attended for one thing, but people genuinely interested in the topics, which is greatly encouraging. On the basis of this experience, I will absolutely try to join a few more panels next year. I wrapped up that day with a reoccurring panel on DARPA's 100 year starship project, which was kind of a mess but a really informative one. The sentiment I most appreciated hearing was a (paraphrased) quote from Buzz Aldrin: At the core of the risk-free society is a ... failure of nerve." Who knows if this species will ever leave this solar system, let alone colonize the Moon and Mars, but I honestly sense the pendulum has begun to swing back. Human beings need something to drive towards in order to progress, why not space?

Today I watched a bunch of movie trailers. The "How Do We Pay for the Future" panel was also pretty good, but my energy was beginning to flag by that point. Anyway, Arisia is something I look forward to each year, and 2013 was no disappointment.
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