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.

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