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This weekend in Minneapolis, Minn., nerds will unite for the first ever NerdCon, a new two-day event from Hank Green, centered on the topic of stories.
Usually, “nerd” conventions are centered around specific intellectual properties or themes of entertainment like sci-fi or anime. NerdCon takes a different approach to the domain of the nerd, distilling the passion of the community down to the essential component of storytelling.
“For me, a nerd is anyone who loves something so much that they can be told by everyone around them that they’re fools for loving it, and they’ll go on and keep loving it anyway,”
Green told the Daily Dot via email. “Stories, of course, are an easy thing to love. They’re how we understand the world… how we pass information from person to person. I’m serious when I say that I think stories are a bit part of what makes us human, so when I was thinking of things I wanted to celebrate, that stuck out.”
NerdCon: Stories is the first new convention from Green—who’s successfully run VidCon, the digital video industry’s premier fan and professional conference, since 2010. Green explained while he’s most obsessed with video, he’s also in love with other stuff and wants to spread that love.
“I’m hoping that I can bring some of that VidCon magic to other worlds,” he said. “I want there to be places all over the world for people to nerd out about stuff, no matter what they’re into.”
While VidCon draws from the biggest names in the world of digital video fill its roster and caters to a ballooning audiences of 20,000 annually, NerdCon has much smaller roots. For the event, Green and his team weren’t interested in the flashiest celebrities of storytelling, instead relying on a trusted team to help him find the “most talented, interesting, under-appreciated people they knew.”
“That resulted in maybe not the most star-studded lineup, but I think it will result in an experience that is unlike any other event ever,” Green said.
That’s not to say NerdCon: Stories’ lineup is small potatoes. For the inaugural event, which takes places Oct. 9-10 at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Green’s brother, author John Green, will attend, as well as The Spiderwick Chronicles author Holly Black and Fangirl author Rainbow Rowell. Internet podcast faves Welcome to the Night Vale will also appear on panels and in their own Q&A session. Some of the biggest events of the two-day conference will be mashups of various storytellers working together to create tales. Friday night sees mashups with board game culture, with live rounds of Superfight and the Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, while Saturday will welcome the New York Neo-Futurists with a performance of their longstanding and constantly variable show, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, which showcases 30 plays in 60 minutes. There will also be storytelling circles and nightly open mics, where attendees can sign up for a five-minute block to tell the story or stories of their choosing before the crowd.
With six years of VidCon under Green’s belt, it’s easy to expect NerdCon to follow VidCon’s outline or build its culture on the back of that success, but Green said he’s trying to remember that what a conference needs in the early stages is a light touch on the culture from a creator’s perspective.
“Conferences are a lot like online platforms in that their culture isn’t defined by the creators, it’s defined by the people who congregate and create in that space,” he said. “You have to create a wonderful space, but you don’t want to force your idea of what the event should be on attendees. We have to let them define it for us, and it can be hard to hold back when you have a bunch of good ideas.”
Without forcing the idea of the event, which will be defined by the 3,000 attendees in Minnesota this weekend, Green does have one thing he hopes fans take away from the weekend.
“Stories,” he wrote, adding an emoticon-punctuated aside: “Sorry with that last answer, I couldn’t help myself.”
Photo via Neil Turner/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)
A former YouTube reporter for the Daily Dot, Rae Votta has more than a decade of experience in the digital and entertainment industries. Her work has appeared on AOL, Huffington Post, Out Magazine, Logo, VH1, Current TV, Billboard, and NYMag. She joined Netflix in 2016.