Def-Con, one of the world’s largest hacker conventions has officially been cancelled. In the announcement the organizer Dark Tangent states that he does not believe that such a large gathering will be possible by the scheduled date of August 6th. The official statement is here.

Dark Tangent goes on to say that even if a vaccine were to be discovered tomorrow there would not be enough time to test, manufacture, and distribute to people for them to safely travel by August. According to Tangent he decided to cancel the convention as early as last month; but did not make an official announcement until after a lengthy discussion with staff, accountants, and lawyers.

This highlights something not really talked about when it comes to conventions. The incredible difficulty and work that goes into organizing and canceling a convention. Anyone hoping that conventions will be back is in for a rude awakening. Once it’s cancelled there is almost no chance of it un-cancelling. Def-Con joins along with cancellations with such massive events such as Anime-Expo, Wondercon, and even ComicCon. Arguably the biggest convention of the year.

Safe Mode Convention. The New Norm

While Def-Con is cancelled, Tangent goes on to explain they will attempt to do a fully online convention. Dubbed ‘Safe-Mode’ with networking via a Def-Con server. The Def-Con forums will provide information on the new format. Until then the forums will act as a coordinator. Helping hosts on what to do for calendar planning, links, descriptions, and music.

As stated by Tangent the idea of a vaccine being created soon is unlikely. And even once created testing and distribution will take months. With Conventions likely cancelled for the rest of the year and possibly longer. It is time to accept that online convention may be permanent.

As I stated in a previous article many big companies are capable of making announcements via the web without the expense of a convention show. If people become accustomed to the ease and accessibility of online conventions many may not even want to go back. Habits are hard to break. If the ongoing pandemic force online conventions to be the norm for an extended period then in-person conventions may go the way of arcades.