Dragoncon 2008 was the best convention I've attended to date. To see a fraction of the awesomosity I experienced, my convention photos are available on flickr here.
After last year's convention, which I quite enjoyed, I was content to start going every other year. However, after this year I don't think I can stand to miss even one. I think the improvement comes from to two subtle changes.
The first is in regards to the space/crowding issue. To meet the growing attendance, a fourth convention hotel was added. This coincided with the completion of the renovations to the Marriott, which resulted in less congestion and aggravation. Ultimately you could actually find places to stand, sit and pose for pictures without breaking firecodes.
Secondly, every year we attend we know more and more people. Either through internet reputation, such as photognome, or through all our various communities on livejournal and flickr, we have amassed quite the fandom network. Knowing enough people means even in a +35k person convention, you are always bumping into people you know. More friends means more fun.
However, the wheel keeps turning and the greater the highs, the deeper the lows. I've spent the last week unsure as to my future role at Dragoncon. Photographer? Panel fiend? Autograph hound? Costumer? Cam-whore? I have tried to do it all every year, and I'm not sure where I'm the most comfortable. If I go to lots of panels, I miss out costuming with my friends. If I'm posing for pictures in costumes, I'm not getting autographs or seeing panels. I've been wrestling with the cost/benefit of costuming at Dragoncon for a while now, and I will explore the topic more thoroughly in my next post.