This afternoon, somewhere between 400 and 600 people crowded into a postage stamp-sized playground in Cambridge to figure out what might be implied by this particular episode of the webcomic xkcd. Would wanting something make it real?
J-Fav, Toby, and I had fun amidst throngs of people wearing clever science-minded t-shirts, female engineering majors offering "raptor-free hugs," quite a few black fedoras, and many, many cameras. The GPS location in the comic pointed to a tall Buckyball-esque play structure that was covered by people by the time we arrived:
At one point, a mattress was passed to the top of the group. A live webcam and WiFi setup were taped to a nearby swingset, broadcasting the whole affair live. College reporters, a t-shirt station, even a guy dressed in chain mail was up a tree. Sure enough, as J-Fav predicted, the foam sword people arrived.
Here's a little Picasa slideshow.
Where is this post going? I don't know, and none of us really knew where the event was going, either. A few wore the shirt, "JUST SHY - not antisocial - (you can talk to me)," which was emblematic of the mood. Lots of shy techies smiling, hoping someone will engage them in conversation. J-Fav and I chatted with one guy, Joe, from WPI, who bemoaned the f/m ratio there (pi) and held a sign aloft in the hopes of getting a date. (See the aforementioned Picasa slideshow.)
Randall Munroe, the strip's artist/author, indeed appeared and announced to the crowd that yes, sometimes wanting something can make it real. He invited the masses to help finish the comic on a string of giant white panels & provided many a Sharpie to get the job done. A good time!
Already, hundreds of photos (see link a few posts in to general Flickr group) of the event are in a Flickr pool. Here's the thread so you can see more, which put mine to shame.
Alright, that's it. No more xkcd meetup news from me.
Unless, that is, if someone can explain to me why fedoras (espcially black fedoras) are nerd chic, even outside the realm of this comic.