by Rob Lopresti
So once again Bouchercon time has rolled around and I will not be in attendance. To tell the truth, I usually am not, because I am the worst traveler outside of a coral reef. And frankly, I am not the most social of animals. Hanging around a noisy bar for conversation is not my idea of a good time.
I do get to the occasional conference. My favorite was the Seattle Bcon, partly because of the event I described here, but also because I was the president of the local chapter of the Mystery Writers of America. That was an ideal position to have at the conference: it brought cachet and no responsibilities whatsoever.
Not long after that conference the chapter of MWA seemed to decline in membership and in the number of meetings. A few people lamented to me that things weren’t like the good old days when I had been the president.
I assured them that this was an example of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, although I don’t think I used them fancy furrin words. The varying fortunes of the chapter had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the arrival of the World Wide Web. People didn’t need meetings of people so much because they could gather with like-minded friends on Dorothy-L, and later on blogs, and then social networks.
I’m no exception. Every morning I turn on my iPad, go to Little Big Crimes, and look at my RSS feeds in the right hand column. I click on blogsites like Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine, Sandra Seaman’s My Little Corner, Criminal Brief, and now Sleuthsayers, and I can be instantly engaged in fascinating conversations in our field. No bar bill necessary.
Of course, electronic contacts are not always a substitute for face-to-face, and people seem to have recognized that. Our local MWA meetings continue, with good attendance. In fact, I hear that the speaker at an upcoming meeting will be Robert Lopresti, so get your reservations early.
As I said, I don’t often travel to Bouchercon, but my wife and I love San Francisco, so last year was an exception. And I had more friends there than I have had at most cons, because of the online communities that I have been a part of. The virtual supports the physical, and vice versa. The dance goes on.
When he received the MWA Grand Master Award Donald E. Westlake told the audience at the Edgar banquet “You are my tribe!” A tribe can be a good thing to have out in the wilderness we all inhabit.
My wish to all the brothers and sisters of my tribe is that the dance continues to take you to interesting places, be they physical or virtual, hardbound or softback.