Like any good sequel, by Saturday at VidCon 2013, the body count is higher, the awesomeness is a bit more awesome and the kinks have been worked out that much better. By Saturday, I was ready for the crowds, the parking considerations and had a much sharper comprehension of the layout. Whereas Friday was a daunting and visceral overload of multisensory proportions (and farts), Saturday was a sort of Zen calm. Though every attraction had more crowds attached to it, and the Kia booth was playing an obnoxiously loud and bastardized version of “Duck, Duck, Goose” (Kia, Kia, Soul!), I had this sort of dragging-my-hand-through-a-field-of-wheat-as-ethereal-music-plays sort of oneness to my soul. I was no longer a newbie; I was a VidCon Veteran, battle-hardened and dead-eyed. I wore my VidCon badge like the scalp of some warrior I’d felled in combat, letting it dangle in plain sight so the security lady manning the escalator knew I was not to be trifled with. That being said, I still learned a host of new things. Here are 5 of those lessons, ranked in sequential order because I know how you hipsters like lists:
5. Saturday is the real day for Creators
What was good about VidCon on Friday got even better on Saturday as a strong majority of the fans in attendance seemed to be creators as well. It makes sense, as a Friday in the summer works for braces-sporting tweens to cruise and shriek, but a majority of YouTube creators are responsible adult-types who still have day jobs. On Saturday, the panels filled up nicely, the questions evolved in their complexity and overall it was a more interesting scene. If you have only one day to attend VidCon and you consider yourself a serious creator, Saturday, while seeming much more crowded, is also the much cooler scene.
4. You need a game plan
There is simply no way for one person to comprehensively cover all of VidCon. Like Disneyland or the Louvre, crowds are a hurdle and there is usually more than one interesting panel going at a time. So you’ve really got to formulate a map as to how you are going to navigate your days. And time flies, so if you dawdle or get stuck in an overly long line for Earth-conscious coffee, you might miss out. I spent so much of my first day going “Holy shit, it’s _______!” That I lost out on a lot of cool opportunities. With day two, I played it a little more strategically and got to take a lot more in.
3. Getting the panel line-up right is tricky
One of the things that makes YouTube so diverse and eclectic is the very thing that made some of the panels suffer a little bit — some YouTubers are MUCH more comfortable and insightful with a filter between them and their audience. That’s not to say that the panels were bad; on the contrary, each panel I attended offered up at least one charismatic and fun character who kept things progressing and lively. But when you’re doing an hour-long panel, hearing one person answering the lion’s share of the questions while other panel members do their best to not vomit from stage fright can be taxing on a busy day with lots of distractions.