Monday, July 27, 2015

VidCon 2015: Nerdfighter Recap

A Creator panel at VidCon 2015. (Rachel Poletick / Instagram)
Take a three-story building and fill it with thousands of people for a weekend, and you can expect to see one of two sides of humanity:

1. An apocalyptic survival test in which only the most destructive, insane and sweaty competitors survive.


2. A circle of friends holding hands around a campfire and singing "Kumbaya."

At VidCon 2015, the figurative voices of thousands of nerdfighters resonated at once. Together, they united a community that has fought to decrease worldsuck, but in more recent years has struggled to decrease its own internal divisiveness.

VidCon is an annual conference asking and answering questions about the state of online video, but as of 2014 there were bigger questions surrounding the Con's very existence. With thousands of young YouTube enthusiasts gathering to storm the Anaheim Convention Center in search of their favorite creators, older viewers stepped back to observe and lament at the loss of their sanctuary. The very first VidCon had only around 1,400 attendees and was a place for the creator and the viewer to come together as friends. With over 18,000 in attendance in 2014, the event grew over-crowded and cut-throat. Coexistence seemed impossible.

From its inception in 2010 through to 2014, VidCon had two tracks: Community and Industry. The Community track focused on personality-based content for viewers while Industry gave access to more technical content for creators. As the years passed, the designations continued with few hitches. But by VidCon 2013, the tides were changing. The division between Community and Industry grew as entertainment industry professionals set their sights on YouTube as a viable media platform and snapped up the Industry passes while the Community track was flooded with viewers and creators.

This year, the creation of a third track at VidCon—the Creator pass—separated the community into its very separate constituents. This allowed a burgeoning group of content creators to have their own track focused on the art of crafting online video, while the viewers (as before) still got the fix they needed from the Community track and professionals stayed with the Industry track. The addition proved to be a step in the right direction.

VidCon in its new form is an organized and safe environment which caters directly to the attendees' needs. Depending on your desire—whether that is to meet your favorite YouTuber, learn how to make videos yourself, or begin using online video in your corporate strategy—there is a track for you.

On the Creator track, I was able to relive the fond memories of VidCons past. I took part in a breakout group to discuss gender and representation on YouTube, I sat in a story circle of my peers, I heard very niche and personal Q&A and panel sessions that I couldn't have even dreamed of getting into last year on the Community track. Rather than fight just to get into a panel (as I did last year), I could arrive 15 minutes prior and get a seat in the first five rows. There were places to lounge and opportunities to meet new people, to really feel that sense of community again.

My big "Kumbaya" moment, however, happened on the last day of the conference, away from the Creator track. As the VidCon concert ended and the setup began for VidCon Prom, a video played on the screen above the arena stage. It was a compilation video of the weirdest animal noises I'd ever heard, and perhaps the winner of the Best Non Sequitur of the Year award.

Surrounded by my fellow VidCon attendees, I laughed. I convulsed. I cried. And I felt like I was at summer camp, sitting amongst friends and telling funny stories. This was the community I joined, and this is the community to which I always want to belong. We are nerdfighteria, we decrease worldsuck through love and videos and VidCon is our home.

1 comment:

  1. Well written, a great read :) And I definitely agree! This was our first time at VidCon, so I don't know from experience how it was in years gone by, but I can say that having that creator pass available was the reason we decided to make the trip from Germany where we live all the way to LA for the event! We had an amazing time (we were also at the Women on YouTube panel), and are so grateful and happy for that creator pass :D