If you’re a Rogue Planet reader chances are you don’t need much convincing in order to be interested in something that combines the words “nerd” and “convention.” You just might not be aware of what this event is yet. NerdCon: Stories is a brand new convention coming to the Minneapolis Convention Center on October 9-10. So what’s it all about?
The same team that created VidCon is now spearheading a new series of conventions under the NerdCon umbrella. Back in 2010 Hank and John Green started VidCon in hopes of celebrating YouTube, content creation, and nerdiness in general. Since then, VidCon has become a cultural phenomenon that now attracts nearly 20,000 people a year. It gives people a unique chance to physically immerse themselves in a culture that primarily exists online. Apparently, this isn’t enough awesomeness for the Green brothers. Their next experiment is NerdCon: Stories where 3,000 people will gather for the purpose of “praising the institution of the story.” What exactly does that mean? Well, it means there will be various keynotes, panels, signings, and activities involving professional storytellers across disciplines and genres.
Of course the Green brothers will be there. They are established and creative enough between themselves that they could pretty much lead every panel on their own. Together they tell stories through YouTube videos (vlogbrothers, Crash Course, SciShow), online articles, podcasts, and various social platforms (Hank’s Snapchat stories are particularly entertaining. Username: hankgre.) Oh, and John wrote some little young adult novels (The Fault In Our Stars, Paper Towns) and signed a movie-producing contract last month. These guys basically tell stories for a living so it’s no wonder they’re hosting an event like this.
But the attendees of NerdCon: Stories will be spoiled with a multitude of other authors, performers, podcasters, musicians, and other content creators. Some confirmed guests include John Scalzi (Old Man’s War Series), Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor (Welcome to Night Vale Podcast), Darin Ross (Superfight! Card Game), Jacqueline Woodson (Miracle’s Boys, Brown Girl Dreaming), and many more. The NerdCon team has said more guests are still to be added as well.
(UPDATE: Full schedule and list of featured guests now available! Click here.)
Any time a new convention springs up there is always a bit of skepticism, but when you think about this one there’s not too much to worry about. VidCon started with just 1,000 attendees and has grown and improved every year since. With the same team putting on an artsy get-together of story-obsessed professionals and fans, there’s not much room for doubt. It’s bound to be an enriching experience for the 3,000 niche audience members packed into the Minneapolis Convention Center.
It’s really not that much of a niche audience though, is it? As we all know, being called a nerd or a geek is no longer a bad thing and it’s pretty much the new “cool.” Some of the most popular entertainment was birthed out of this culture. Almost everyone you meet is a fan of Marvel, Star Wars, or the Big Bang Theory—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Once you go deeper you see nerds and geeks succeeding everywhere. For example, as reported by Karen Hua on Forbes, educational content is twice as popular as pet videos on YouTube. People aren’t going to YouTube for cat videos, they’re logging on to learn about world history and physics. People don’t just watch TV shows and movies to be entertained, they watch to celebrate the things they like. People don’t simply read books to escape from reality, they read to become more imaginative, smart, and nuanced human beings. People are consuming content simply because they are allowing themselves to be “unironically enthusiastic about stuff,” as John Green likes to say. “When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all.” We all like stuff. So why not have a series of conventions about that?
Nerds have been telling the most important stories for all of human history and the world is paying attention now more than ever. Take part in the conversation at the first NerdCon. Learn more about NerdCon: Stories and register here.