An Essay on Science Fiction Fandom. I just got back from Dragon Con … 70,000 people in six official hotels. I'd say the average age was about 28 years old and the vibe was noting but electric from Thursday night to Monday afternoon. The revolution has already happened. WorldCon carries zero weight for the majority of fans – it's already seen as a niche con that caters to people over 50 and the lit-only crowd. The "modern" form of fandom – which is dominant today – began in the mid-1990s and is the result of 1) the internet, and 2) 500 channels that people born after 1980 grew up watching. When those of us over 40 years old were mere nerdlings, the easiest way to get SF content when we were younger was reading SF books and magazines. Aside from skiffy, the only reliable SF on TV was either Twilight Zone or Trek (or their late-night/weekend reruns) or Doctor Who reruns on the local PBS station. And, we'd get things that were nominally SF (Bewitched, some of the better Saturday Morning Children's programs) – or an occasional movie that wasn't complete crap. But for us old farts – the cheapest and easiest way to feed our youthful hunger for SF was through paperbacks and used bookstores or informal swaps. But, starting with the 1990s, the rise of digital cable and the bazillion Internet options led the SF cup to runneth over. The world of our childhood died because of broadband technology as surely as weekly general interest magazines our parents and grandparent enjoyed – like Saturday Evening Post, Look, and Life – were killed off by over-the-air broadcast TV tech. And with so many options after 1990, the floodgates to Millennial Fandom opened wide. Millions of people now consider themselves fans – and that fandom is usually not book-based. That's because for most 35 and younger today … reading a novel is/was likely the HARDEST way to get a youthful SF fix. Sure, there are many younger fen who are primarily interested in books, but I guess percentage-wise, it's fewer than 5% of younger fen. Most of them have TV and film as their primary fandom. Yet, many of my 45-and-older peers expect the younger crowd to adapt to our ways – to step in line and do fandom our way … because it's always been done this way and it's the "proper" way to be a fan. (Like that is ever going to happen.) For my peers, many still divide fandom into "(real) Fandom" – which is print-based – and "media fandom" for non-print SF. For example, Worldcon (and the Hugos) are set up like this – with a book focus that drills down to almost-absurd word-count minutiae – whereas non-print SF is an almost afterthought, lumped together oddly so that a multi-million-dollar TV show and a taped Con acceptance speech are in the same category. (ridiculously overbroad) This does not speak to most fans under age 35. (And probably most fans under 45 – judging anecdotal evidence from looking at my own fannish friends). So, since they cannot – by and large – relate to us, the young-uns are dumping us and our ideas and forming their own fandom – one that is not print-based; one where books are a tertiary – or minor – subset of their overall fandom. The contrast is quite stark in the hotel-based cons. (Don't get me started on convention center cons – that's a different topic.) If you wanna see a bunch of gray-hairs, go to Worldcon or Westercon (or Baycon in my home town). If you want to see a very even spread of ages, including lots of young people, go to Dragon Con or cons like DC. Fandom is changing. What fans want out of fandom is different for those Baby Boomers and older vs. those in Gen X or born later. Fandom is the ultimate in democracy as "fandom" is what fans say it is. And, as the last Baby Boomer turns 50 next year – I believe many in the new generation of fandom will increasingly see "traditional" fandom as anachronistic and quaint. And attending our cons either as backward and boring – or quaint anachronisms, like visiting an Amish community as a tourist. My instinct is that at some point – say before 2024 – Millennial fandom will absorb older fandom as the older fen die out and are replaced by a younger generation and its multi-media fandom. Judging by sheer numbers – there are many, many are more of them. They have bigger cons. Their cons get more attention in popular culture, by content creators, and news coverage. Maybe they are the culture of fandom and traditionalists are the ones who failed to change with the times and need to develop a taste for the new fan culture? This leads to a second query: Who should be doing the work here; why should they have work to develop a taste for something we like when they are perfectly happy the way they are? To me, when we have that expectation, we sound like parents reminding the kids to eat their Brussels sprouts. This is an issue we face in Silicon Valley start-up land all the time. Many companies here that fail, do so because the decision makers design a product for themselves rather than for the target audience. It's not reasonable to expect long-term success if you require the people you want to attract to all but abandon the things they already like and are used to and then do additional work to meet our needs and desires (which probably are not their needs or desires). The programming and focus should evolve to suit the interests of the target audience as it changes over the years. If cons want broader success among younger fandom, they need to change at a root level and embrace media as equal to (and sometimes better than) print. If those who run the traditional prestige cons do not want to do that, then the Powers that Be should be realistic & stop trying to achieve something they will never get. There is nothing wrong with being a niche fandom and doing it well. And, everyone will be happier for it. Do I see the death of lit-based cons? No. But I do see them increasingly become a niche form of fandom. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.)

As promised, known SFTV shows with premiere dates: Upcoming TV series & Return Days for Fall 2013: KEY: "8/7" means 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific and 7 p.m. Central time [in brackets = original country if U.S date not set] — no reality/contest shows– SUNDAY 8/7: Once Upon A Time (ABC) – Season 3 Sept. 29 9/8: The Walking Dead (AMC) – Season 4 Oct. 13 [9/8: Lost Girl (SCSE Canada) – Season 4 Nov. 10] Syfy in 2014 10/9: Witches of East End (LIFE) – NEW Oct. 6 [10 eps only] MONDAY 8/7: Almost Human (FOX) – NEW Noiv 4 9/8: Sleepy Hollow (FOX) – NEW Sept. 16 [13 episodes only] 9/8: Beauty and the Beast (CW) – Season 2 Oct. 7 TUESDAY 8/7: S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC) – NEW Sept. 24 8/7: The Originals (CW) – NEW Premieres Thurs. Oct. 3 9/8: Supernatural (CW) – Season 9 Oct. 8 10/9: Person of Interest (CBS) – Season 3 Sept. 24 WEDNESDAY 8/7: Arrow (CW) – Season 2 Oct. 9 8/7: Revolution (NBC) – Season 2 Sept. 25 9/8: The Tomorrow People – NEW Oct. 9 10/9: American Horror Story (FX) Season 3 Oct 9 THURSDAY 8/7: Big Bang Theory (CBS) – Season 7 Sept. 26 8/7: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC) – NEW Oct. 10 8/7: Vampire Diaries (CW) – Season 5 Oct. 3 9/8: Reign (CW) – NEW Oct. 17 FRIDAY 8:30/7:30: The Neighbors (ABC) – Season 2 Sept. 20 9/8: Grimm (NBC) – Season 3 Oct. 25 10/9: Haven (Syfy) – Season 4 Sept. 13 10/9: Dracula (NBC) – NEW Oct. 25 [10 episodes only] SATURDAY [9/7: Atlantis (BBC) – Nov. 23] <- premieres after Doctor Who 50th Movies Sept. 5 – 9/8 Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators (Syfy) Sept. 14 – 9/8 RoboCroc (Syfy) Other SPECIALS Nov. 23 – 8/7: Doctor Who 50th Anniversary (BBC/BBCA) Dec. 25 – 8/7 Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/BBCA)

Inspired by noted KPCB venture capitalist Mary Meeker's prediction that wearable computing will be an important new technology cycle starting this year, the German American Business Association (GABA) is sponsoring "The Rise of the Hardware Startup" conference geared toward hardware-focused startups Aug. 15 at WlmerHale in Palo Alto.

Wearable computing inspires GABA ‘Rise of the Hardware Startup’ seminar Aug. 15