Celebrating Star Wars from a city far, far away

April 20th, 2015

I live in a small city in western Japan, but my heart was in Los Angeles over the weekend. In a sweltering convention center in Los Angeles, to be exact, alongside thousands of people dressed in robes or as robots. I was watching Star Wars Celebration — the biggest Star Wars convention of the year — from the comfort of my couch, living vicariously through The Verge's intrepid Bryan Bishop as he Periscoped his experiences live. I watched as he poked his way around the show's prop exhibition, followed the progress of multiple elaborate tattoos across the weekend, and saw through his eyes as he soaked in the sheer Star Wars-iness of the whole thing.

I got to live the best bits of the convention experience through Twitter's new livestreaming app, but — best of all — I didn't have to be at the convention. Bryan had to stand in vast, snaking lines just to get something to eat; I could stand up and build myself an elaborate sandwich in the time it would take him to shuffle forward two steps. I didn't have to wander the concrete halls in the center's perma-gloom, looking for a cool booth — he was doing the work for me, choosing the best and sweeping his phone across the wares for sale. A strict no-phones policy meant I missed some the juiciest events, as Bryan had to go dark for the panels that detailed both The Force Awakens, and upcoming standalone movie, Rogue One. But I got immediate reactions delivered with visible excitement from a Periscope stream that started the second he left the panel's auditorium.

Realistically, Periscope's brand of personal livestreaming won't replace actual attendance at events like Star Wars Celebration, but after Meerkat's success at SXSW, this weekend has shown that people are finding interesting ways to document their experiences live. Speed is a particularly important weapon in the fight to get news and opinion out faster: Periscope allowed me to get informed thoughts, reactions, and the hottest of hot takes from people who'd sat in on the panels I wanted to see, faster than fan blogs had their pieces written and published. Faster, even, than Twitter could post news, dissect that news, and then start making cynical jokes about it. And, unlike poor Bryan, once the panels were done, the tattoos wiped off, and the R2-D2s ranked, I didn't have to navigate a crowd of Sith lords to get back to my hotel — I could just close the app.

Five stories to start your day

  1. Star Wars: Rogue One will be a prequel to the original trilogy

    Fans here at Star Wars Celebration continue to get new nuggets of information, and today we got a glimpse of Gareth Edwards' Rogue One and the first description of the plot. During a panel, Edwards stated that the film will take place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and will be about a group of rebels banding together to steal plans for the Death Star. Those plans are what allowed Luke Skywalker to destroy the battle station in the original film.

  2. Like Google Glass for cars: I tried Mini’s Augmented Vision concept

    Announced today at the Shanghai auto show, I got to try the Mini Augmented Vision system at the company’s lavishly appointed downtown San Francisco dealership last week and get a guided tour of how they might work in the real world. From a fashion perspective, the glasses aren’t exactly subtle — they closely resemble ski goggles, or old-timey aviation goggles, but with a camera mounted dead-center to let it see what you’re seeing.

  3. Sony announces the Xperia Z4 flagship smartphone in Japan

    Sony has announced the Xperia Z4, its latest flagship smartphone, in its home country of Japan. Like the Z4 Tablet announced at Mobile World Congress last month, the Z4 isn't a dramatic departure from earlier Xperia devices like last fall's Z3.

  4. In 2017, Norway will be first country to shut down FM radio

    Norway will shut down FM radio in the country beginning in 2017, Radio.no reports. The Norwegian Ministry of Culture finalized a shift date this week, making it the first country to do away with FM radio entirely. The country plans to transition to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) as a national standard.

  5. 5 film techniques J.J. Abrams will use to showcase his Star Wars universe

    From the looks of the new Star Wars trailer, J.J. Abrams and his cinematographer, Dave Mindel, seem to be trading out the bad visual trademarks and replacing them with some of their own. Here are some examples of what we might be able to expect from Abrams’ visual take on the galaxy.

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