Sunday, June 21, 2009

Anime Boston 2009 Recap

This post is about a month late, but i wanted to write about my experience at Anime Boston 2009 which was held May 22nd-24th. These guys could really use a lot of help in the tech department. Their website sucks. It's poorly formatted and just doesn't deliver. Much of the content was put up late, or didn't even make it up; there are dead links and content that is missing or directs you to last year's information until the website is updated (which it has not been). This says quite a bit to me, actually, but i wonder what we could do to help: maybe apply for a volunteer or staff position. Any other ideas? A solid site could do a lot for the convention, but i suspect upper management might be holding the event back.

Overall, the event had a lot of potential, but i personally don't think it was run as well as it could have been. During the AMV contest, a major event at the convention, there were some technical glitches, and at some point i heard Windows error sounds, at which point i cringed, dropped on the floor, and convulsed. The humor of a lot of the content, for example the pre-show content, was elementary, although overall i was entertained and the crowd was so enthusiastic they would have enjoyed anything, plus the interactive video was very well done. We played Sempai Says, clapped along, shouted A-M-V, sang Totoro, and counted the sexy babes.

I don't want to be overly critical of the event. Anime Boston was actually a surreal experience. Characters that looked like they stepped right out of the screen rushed all around me and i've never been immersed in such a diverse crowd gathering around something they shared such a great common love for. It really was impressive, to say the least. My suspicion about upper management, is that since it is such a tight-knit community, that perhaps the people in charge have been trying to run most of the event themself without enough help, and it's simply too much to handle at this point. If that is the case, they've done an amazing job so far, but the event has grown so large that they need to be hiring more people specialized for running different aspects of the convention. Of course, that might not be the case and nobody is to blame.

If this reaches upper management, or whoever can make this happen, here's what i think could help you a lot. First off, i think the most important thing is a new website, completely redesigned, formatted nicely, perhaps using a CMS to make things easier like Drupal, Joomla!, or Plone, with Atom/RSS feeds that people can subscribe to, and a Creative Commons, CC-BY-SA license. The anime world is all about fan creations, and copyright discourages the kind of sharing that makes the anime community what it is. All content used or shown at the convention should either be made available online, or linked to (for things like copyrighted AMV submissions that can't be made available). We should not have to ask on the Forums and scrounge the internet for this kind of information. Also, if you're using Windows, switch to Ubuntu or some other Linux distro to avoid more technical difficulties. Lastly, take advantage of social networking sites! Link to an official YouTube channel, Facebook page, Reddit,, etc. Twitter was pushed on us pretty hard at the con, so you know the value in these kinds of sites.

Less importantly, having one tiny table for flyers is simply not enough. Sure, it's free advertising, but you should have no trouble turning a profit from the ads in the program guide and registration bags, not to mention admission. Besides, this free advertising is not forced upon congoers, rather it actually attracts them. This brings me to my actual experience being dispatched into the Anime Boston 2009 convention armed with 50 copies of the Ubunchu manga and 100 Ubuntu 9.04 LiveCDs. The entire process was as follows.

First, i met with Martin to convert Ubuntchu into booklet format and get 50 copies printed at Staples for $1.00 each. Next, i took them to my schools printing department to get them staple bound and got an offer for the next batch of copies to be printed there for a fraction of the price. Then, on the first day of the convention, i stopped at the Staples across the street from the Hynes Convetion Center to print stickers (pdf, odt) to put on th Ubuntu CDs with the Masachusetts Team's info on them. Then i paperclipped the CD's to the manga's and entered the convnetion. I was actually there on behalf of a bunch of groups. I also had flyers for lojban (pdf, odt), the Embassy of Piracy (png), and polyamory awareness. Hell yeah, i was representin'!

Anime Boston 2009 Flyers

It was a huge success! There wasn't enough space on the table for all of the mangas, and they don't stack well, especially with the CDs, so i had to drop them off in small batches. It seemed to be the only thing on that table people were actually interested in. I checked back regularly, and each time i came back, all of the copies had already been snatched up. A few hours after arriving, all 50 copies had already been taken. I proceeded to leave CD's without mangas, which didn't go as quickly, not surprisingly. Convention goers are a great target audience. They tend to be slightly on the geeky side, but still cool of course, and are very passionate and open minded people.

P.S. Does anybody think there is enough interest for an Ubuntu Anime Edition? There are some good wallpapers, or the Ubuntu Linux Distro OS-Tan that could be used as the desktop background. I could see a lot of fanboys and fangirls (fanpeople?) getting into Ubuntu that way. Honestly, what's a more widespread, almost clut-ish, but not really, cultural phenomenon that we could target than anime?